Houston Astros go from ‘Crush City’ in 2015 to ‘OBP City’ in 2017.
The Houston Astros are now 22-11 on the season, with a decent six-game lead in the AL West. Not going to count the chickens before they hatch, but the Astros are winning with a different game plan than in 2015. Through 33 games that year, the Astros were 20-13 after a two-game losing streak. They finished 2015 with an 86-76 record as a wild card team.
The 2015 season for the Astros
In 2015, the Astros were dubbed ‘Crush City’ unofficially by fans as a team that was all or nothing. They finished in the middle of the pack in batting average at .250. I know, who cares about batting average in the Statcast era? That team’s OPS was second in the American League with a .752 OPS. They were second in homers with 230 and fifth in runs with 729.
In other words, they hit for power, but they were middle of the pack with an on-base percentage of .315. Unfortunately, they would strand many runners on base by striking out. In 2015, the Stros led the AL with 1392 strikeouts. The 2015 Astros were basically a team of Chris Carters. I don’t mean that as an insult, but it is a great comparison of the team. Sit back and wait for a homer.
The 2017 Astros
Granted, it is a small sample size so far in only 33 games. However, they are second in the AL to the Yankees with a .275 team batting average. They have scored the third most runs with 161, on pace for 790 runs in 2017. This will easily help the Houston Astros win the AL West. With 45 homers, the Stros are on pace to score 220 runs this year. With the additions of Brian McCann, Josh Reddick, Nori Aoki, and Carlos Beltran, this is a dangerous lineup.
One big glaring difference is the number of strikeouts the Astros have. They have the second least number of strikeouts with 230 at this point. That’s on pace for 1,129 strikeouts for the season.
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One thing that helped the 2015 team was they hit into the second fewest double plays with 102 of them. This year with more runners on base, the Astros have led the AL by grounding into 44 double plays. The next highest is the Red Sox with 37 GDP and lead in BA and OBP. If you remember back to 2015, the Stros led the world in solo homers because we didn’t have runners on base. If no one is on base, there can’t be a double play.
All about the OBP?
The Houston Astros are currently third in the AL with a .343 on-base percentage and second in the AL in OPS with .788. This is a better all-around lineup that gets on base more than the 2015 squad. You have Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman still developing to an extent. The influx of veteran talent also helped. The offense is a strong point this year even if they are not hitting homers as often.
This is not your Chris Carter team any longer! We can no longer say all that we do is hit home runs. Instead of waiting for the homer to score, they are making other things happen. Don’t get me wrong, the Astros are third in homers with 45. They are getting on base more and striking out less. That’s a win for me!
***Stats from ESPN team stats page and Baseball-Reference team encyclopedia***