The Houston Astros Are Winning Most of the Games They Should.
The Houston Astros were coming off a four-game losing streak, losing to Chris Sale and being punched in the gut by the Texas Rangers again. The Astros were ten games out of first place, and people were hovering over the panic button. Even on that Sunday’s Talking Stros, we were all frustrated where this team was with the expectations coming into the season. Last year, this team almost beat the…let’s not rehash that.
Early this year, the Astros were basically one of those lame teen movies from the 90’s and 00’s such as She’s All That. At the beginning of the movie, the Astros were this awkward team that couldn’t do anything right consistently to get wins. Then the manager gives the team a mini makeover where the team is not so awkward, but the team still needs to believe in themselves. We have not quite reached the happy ending where we dance in October, but we are playing better.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch could feel that things were spiraling out of control, so he looked for a way to get one player’s season going. While we know what we had in Jose Altuve, George Springer didn’t seem to be excelling in his role in the lineup. The second hitter has to try to make contact to move the runner over, which doesn’t really play into his skillset.
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With the type of hitter that Altuve is, he can succeed in any position in the batting order, even though he has struggled recently, he’s the best hitter in the lineup able to make contact to at least get move the runner-up another 90 feet. Springer was trying to be someone he is not, which makes him not as effective. So before the Orioles series, Hinch announced that Springer will be leading off with Altuve hitting second.
The timing was not by accident, in my opinion, Altuve was struggling, so Hinch used this opportunity to move his perennial All-Star second baseman to second. It wasn’t a negative on Altuve, but to get Springer into the place where he feels the most comfortable. Not including yesterday’s game, Springer has a career slash line of .306/ .386/ .481/ .867 hitting leadoff. He is batting .375 this year hitting leadoff.
Even though Springer has been on fire since the move, it would be unfair to say that he is the only reason for the Astros 5-1 record over those six games. Several players who have struggled for most of the season were starting to heat up, such as Luis Valbuena, Evan Gattis, and Jason Castro. The pitching staff, especially the bullpen has become more reliable.
But one bat that has been here and there had been the boy wonder Carlos Correa, who got his second day off yesterday before entering the game as a pinch-hitter in the thirteenth to hit the winning go-ahead homer. Maybe this will be the return of confidence in Correa to do what he does best, crush the ball.
We talked Springer leading off om Talking Stros.
As I wrote before the Angels series, these next seven games (10 at the time) could decide the fate of the 2016 Astros playing against teams below .500. The Astros need to make a run now, with a win in the next seven games, and the Astros will be back to .500. I’m not expecting them to accomplish this so quick, but with the way things have gone recently, anything is possible.
Let’s take it one game at a time and focus on series wins in three-games series and ties in four-games series, then the rest will happen on its own.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***