By this time of the offseason, talking about how many times the Astros will strikeout in 2015 is similar to asking Marshawn Lynch a question right now. Instead of focusing on the negative, let’s look at whether or not the Astros have really upgraded their run production for 2015. Let’s start off by looking at the 2014 team offensive stats and where they ranked in the league.
In 2014, the Houston Astros hit 163 home runs, which was 4th highest in MLB. Looking at the projections from Steamers from Fan Graphs, the Astros are projected to hit 199 home runs in 2015. This is a 22% increase or 36 more home runs than 2014. This increase is due to the addition of Evan Gattis (28 HR), Colby Rasmus (23 HR), Luis Valbuena (10 HR) and Jed Lowrie (11 HR). That many home runs would have put the 2014 Astros in second place to the Orioles (202 HR), who lost some power when Nelson Cruz left.
Grade: A +
In 2014, the Astros were tied for 28th place in doubles hit with 240, which was near the bottom of major league. Why was this? With the Astros hitting a lot of home runs in 2014, you would think that some of those long fly balls would have fallen in for doubles. However, with a home run hitting team, most of those would-be home runs are caught on the warning track. Steamer projections have the Astros hitting 267 doubles, if true this would represent an 11% increase from 2014.
Altuve is projected to lead Stros with 37 doubles in 2015.
Grade C +
With the speed the Astros demonstrated last year on the bases, that normally translates into more triples by taking the extra base. Other causes for triples are hard hit balls that get by the outfielders. Hard hit balls should be the Astros theme this year with Evan Gattis, Chris Carter, and George Springer on board. However, the Astros were tied for 28th place in 2014 with 19 triples.
Based on prediction from Steamer, the Astros will hit 21 triples, which only represents an 11% increase. This may move them up to the early 20’s, but that’s not enough growth to receive a positive grade.
Besides Jose Altuve and Springer, the current Astros lineup does not have enough speed.
With more home runs projected to be hit in 2015, the number of runs scored should increase from the 629 runs scored in 2014. The projected runs scored in 2015 should increase to 700, based on Steamer projections.
There are more power hitters in the Astros lineup in 2015, so hopefully this will lead to less runners being stranded in scoring position as well.
Runs are the hardest thing to predict in baseball, because they are dependent on other events such as stolen bases, hits, extra base hits, and who is hitting behind a player.
Runs scored are probably where the strikeouts will probably effect the Astros the most in 2015. The predicted increase to 700 runs scored increases by 11%, and would move them up to 8th place on the list in 2014.
Grade B –
The team batting average will probably take the biggest hit with the high amount of strikeouts in 2015. Last year the Astros had the 25th highest batting average in 2014 with a .242 team average. However, Steamer predictions has Astros batting average reducing to 0.237 in 2015, which shows a decrease of 2 percentage points in batting average.
While it’s only a 2% decrease in batting average, this would drop the Astros to second to worst batting average in 2014. This is the first category that the Astros are predicted to lose ground in. When you have players like Jon Singleton, Chris Carter, and George Springer all projected to hit below 0.230, batting averages will not always be there.
While A.J. Hinch‘s quote still rings true so far, the “Astros players have yet to strikeout in 2015.” Ironically, the number of strikeouts according to Steamer projections will decrease in 2015. The Astros finished behind the Cubs in strikeouts in 2014 with 1,442 strikeouts, but projections show the Astros striking out fewer times in 2015 with 1,382 strikeouts.
This would represent a 4% decrease in strikeouts, and would move the Astros down to fourth place in most strikeouts. Most likely the strikeouts will increase in 2015, but only time will tell.
While the 2014 Astros were tied for third place in stolen bases with 122, I don’t see them stealing at the same pace with their current lineup. Steamer projections have the Astros stealing 98 bases in 2015, with Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Jake Marisnick doing most of the damage.
There will be a predicted 20% decrease in stolen bases in 2015, with 24 less steals. With the exception of the three listed above, speed might be the stat that will have the most regression in 2015. Marisnick is not an everyday player on this roster, but he could see a lot of playing time in 2015 as a 4th outfielder.
Grade D +
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- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
It will be very interesting to see if Jeff Luhnow’s strategy pays off in 2015. Last offseason he tried to limit strikeouts. He has changed course for the 2015 season, adding more power/strikeout players. Only time will tell what the final verdict will be, but the increase in home runs and runs scored is a telling stat to me that the Astros will win more games. I see the Astros reaching 0.500 in 2015, but we may still be a year away from playoff contention
With a good rotation and what looks to be a good bullpen, the Astros might be a surprise team in 2015 as Jason Burke wrote on Saturday.