For the Houston Astros, Multi-Homerun Games is not a Problem


Last night, well before Pat Neshek had a chance to come in and break the Houston Astros winning streak by doing what he’s been doing all September. The broadcast on ROOT Sports flashed a graphic I found fascinating.

It essentially showed their record when the Astros hit at least one home run in a game, and looked something like this:

And while Bill Brown and Geoff Blum were oohing and aahing at their record when they hit at least two home runs, the pessimist in me (that’s what you’d call it, I’d call it pragmatism) was laughing about what the converse meant.

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We can often learn a lot by taking what someone presents us and asking about the converse. In this case, if it’s true the Astros are 54-11 when they hit at least two home runs, what are they when they hit less than two home runs?

And that question tells us a lot more about Houston’s season than the graphic that ROOT showed because it turns out the Astros are 29-64 when they hit fewer than two home runs. That’s astoundingly terrible.

I know I’m not telling you anything new, as anyone who has watched the Astros for any amount of time this year could say that they live and die by the home run. But seeing it in perspective brings to stark reality just how awful that is.

Naturally, most teams do better when they hit a lot of home runs. But the Astros are in a class all by themselves when it comes to home run reliance. Take how all of the American League playoff contenders fare when they hit fewer than two home runs:

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Look at the massive difference there. If the Astros were marginally less dependent on home runs, just marginally better at finding another way to score runs, their current situation would be very different.

If they managed just to have the same win percentage as the next team up, the Texas Rangers at .384, the Astros would improve to 35-58 with less than two home runs. A 6-game difference that today would put them 3.5 games up on the Rangers for the AL West lead, and no longer fretting about missing the playoffs entirely.

So, yes, it is thrilling that they hit so many home runs. It’s thrilling when they win hitting 3+ home runs. But if they could win just a handful of those other games, their situation would be entirely different.

The pessimist in me could look at that and bemoan the way their season has played out this year. The optimist in me looks at it and realizes they are just a minor adjustment (and maybe a full season of George Springer and Carlos Correa) away from being able to run away with the division.

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