Astros Countdown: Top Five Second Half Storylines
The first half was good for the Houston Astros.
With a record of 60-29, the Houston Astros are running away with the American League West. With the second half starting July 14th against the Minnesota Twins, the Astros are 16.5 games ahead of the second place Los Angeles Angels and the Texas Rangers for first place.
Even with the historic first half, the Astros have some things to keep an eye on going into the second half. Here are the top five storylines for the second half of the regular season.
Signing a one-year $16 million dollar deal with the Astros before the season started, Carlos Beltran was not expected to be the offensive force that he was during the Astros run in 2004. However, he has been disappointing during his 40-year-old season.
After hitting .295 with a .850 OPS just a season ago, Beltran has a .227 batting average, the lowest of his career, with a .690 OPS, his lowest since 2000. In 75 games, Beltran has 11 home runs with 35 RBIs. This is the first season in his storied career in which he has an OBP lower than .300 and a slugging percentage under .415, which has only happened four times in 20 seasons.
One of the reasons behind his offensive struggles is his strikeout numbers. He is striking out a career high 21.1 percent of the time with 66 strikeouts in 286 at bats. This would only be the second time in his career that he would strike out more than 20 percent of the time in a season.
The best Beltran is coming up?
That is the bad news. The good news is that Beltran has always been known as a second half batter. Take away the .926 OPS, the 23 home runs and seven triples hit in an Astros uniform back in 2004. The last time Beltran’s OPS was lower after the All Star break than before it was his 2013 season with the St. Louis Cardinals.
After Beltran had been traded to the Texas Rangers in a trade deadline deal on August 1st, 2016, he was a solid contributor to that offense. He hit seven home runs and drove in 29 RBIs with a .280 batting average and a .776 OPS in his 52 game stint in Arlington.
These are not the kinds of numbers he may have put up with the New York Mets or the New York Yankees, but, with an offense at the level of the Astros, it will help if he does more than he is doing now.