The Houston Astros Hitting Woes
So far this year, I think it is safe to say any Astros fan is disappointed with the way the season has gone. As of April 28th, the Houston Astros are 7-15 and last in the AL West. A lot of the fans have been looking at to the lack of production from the lineup with runners in scoring position, or RISP. While that concern is very warranted, the issue is a lot bigger than just that. Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Colby Rasmus are delivering, but what about the others?
The issue is also the Astros lack of moving runners over, or what is also known as a “productive out.” For anyone unaware of what a productive out is, it is basically whenever a runner is moved over, whether it is grounding out to the right side of the infield to advance the runner to third with no outs, or even something as simple as a sac fly or a groundout scoring a runner.
Looking into the statistics, the Astros have the 3rd worst productive outs percentage in baseball. They only convert their opportunities 21% of the time, well below the 44% conversion rate the Pittsburgh Pirates have. Looking at runner advancements with a man on third with less than two outs, the Astros have the 22nd best percentage in the league at 47%. With no outs and a runner on second, the Astros only convert moving the runner over 38% of the time, which is the 4th worst in baseball.
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Obviously, the .201 average with runners in scoring position is a problem that needs to be improved, but there are other ways to manufacture runs without getting hits. Teams with really good lineups like the Rangers, the Cubs, and the Giants are all in the top ten in productive outs percentage and rely on these plays to be successful.
With the Astros being below the league average in each category given, the one thing they can do to improve in each area is the approaches and the players being put in the lineup every day. Situational hitting is something that is worked on every day in high school. It is something Astros hitters and the coaches need to take more seriously. Also, some hitters in the lineup will never be able to learn or adjust to putting a productive ball in play.
Guys like Evan Gattis and Carlos Gomez, who have struggled to put the ball on the bat consistently, might have to end up being replaced by guys who can get the job done, especially when the team is struggling to win guys. Everyone loves the home run ball in high doses.
It is what makes them so entertaining and fun to watch. But to realistically want to contend and win a World Series, the lineup is going to have to change their approach a little bit to consistently get more opportunities to score runs.
**Stats by Baseball-Reference**