Offensive Woes are the Early Recurring Theme for the Astros
By Cody Poage
This Astros offense has the potential to amongst the best in baseball. It would be misguided to believe otherwise just five games into the season.
If you are on social media any decent amount of time as an Astros fan, you can’t help but notice the negativity surrounding the team’s offense. And the complaints seem to grow louder with each passing game that the Astros fail to capitalize at the plate.
Frankly, I shouldn’t be surprised by this reaction. There are times I catch myself thinking some of the exact same things. But then I have to remind myself that the season is still young, very young. Five games total to be exact. Thirteen runs in the first five games, though, does warrant a pause and time to think.
The one hitter who is standing out like a sore thumb thus far has been Jose Altuve. The usually consistent hitter for the Astros has looked out of sorts in the first five games. For example, the strike outs and double plays have been an issue early on.
It also doesn’t help that Altuve has grounded into three double plays in the past two nights. Nothing halts an offense’s momentum like a double play.
Another batter that possibly stands out more than Altuve is Yulieski Gurriel, who has posted a .067 batting average and .134 OPS. This breaks down into just one hit, a single, in 15 at-bats. Once again, though, this remains a small sample size.
Other Astros hitters are struggling as well like Alex Bregman (.600 OPS) and Carlos Beltran before his two-hit performance last night. But it remains just too early to write this off as anything other than a slow start.
For example, Craig Biggio in 1993 didn’t get off to a great start to his season that year. Now, I am not saying the these players are equal to Biggio, even though Altuve may make it an interesting argument if he continues to play well for an extended portion of his career. Anyway, inn the first five games that season the Hall of Fame second baseman slashed .200/.304/.250 in 23 plate appearances. His ending slash line that same season was .287/.373/.474.
In case you need another one, let’s look at Jeff Bagwell in 1999. The soon-to-be enshrined Hall of Fame first baseman slashed .167/.250/.167 in his first 20 plate appearances that same season. You see, even the Hall of Fame-caliber players had rough starts to a season every once in a while. They were able to rebound, and we should expect the same from the majority of the Astros hitters. If not, then we may have to start testing the water coming from Minute Maid Park.
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I cannot emphasize enough about the small sample size. In fact, it feels like I am wasting my time even writing that sentence. But it must be said. The best advice I can give you is this: take a breath, find solace that the Astros are 3-2 thus far, and that the pitching has been relatively solid. Especially the starting rotation in particular. Once the offense finds its groove, this team shouldn’t have an major issue. Of course, this is baseball and I am sure another area of concern will appear sooner rather than later.
**Statistics courtesy of MLB.com and Baseball Reference**