Astros fans would do well to Forget Los Angeles.
Forget Paris is a… well, forgettable 1995 movie about two people meeting in Paris, having a whirlwind week-long romance and then running full-speed into a wall of domesticated misery once they return to their home in the United States.
After rampaging through an exhilarating postseason that culminated in the Astros hoisting their first World Series banner, the team has stumbled out of the gate in 2018 and has now lost four in a row and six of their last ten. Overall, they’re 10-7 and are in something called “third place” in a division they were supposed to have already clinched by now.
Where are the Astros that confidently quieted a raucous Fenway crowd? Where are the Astros that crawled back from the dead to vanquish the anointed Yankees? Well? Where are the Astros that swaggered into Chavez Ravine like a boss? Those are the Astros we remember! Those are the Astros we love! We want those Astros back!
Yeah, well, sorry if this is insulting “duh” obvious but given the depth of panic after 17 games – 17! – it needs to be said: there was zero chance the Astros were going to roar into 2018 and pick up where they left off last fall. Turns out early April Tuesday night games against the San Diego Padres just don’t carry the same weight as game 7 of the World Series. Who knew?
That’s not to say all is well; it’s obviously not. After a four-game win streak, in which the team scored 36 runs, the Astros have scored just 27 in their last ten. Already, the Astros have scored one or no runs in five games; they didn’t hit that milestone last year until May 20.
So, yeah – the Astros are not off to the best start.
But to be genuinely worried about the Astros, and specifically, their offense, you would have to believe that:
- The team will continue to post a .636 OPS at home this year. Do you remember the 2013 Astros? Yeah, that’s right – the team that lost a franchise-record 111 games. That team posted a .668 OPS at Minute Maid Park and they, uhm… you know, LOST 111 GAMES.
- Jose Altuve, who roughly 55 minutes ago, was named the best player in the American League by unanimous consent, will continue to slug .377, down 119 points from his four-year average, including .539 the past two years. As of this glorious morning, Max Stassi has as many doubles (2) and more home runs (1).
- Alex Bregman, who currently lists an 84 wRC+ on an admittedly ugly early stat line, is a below-average Major League hitter.
- George Springer – our World Series MVP who before this year, posted a career weighted on-base average (wOBA) of .364, will continue to produce at his current wOBA of .337.
- The Astros will make a habit of losing games in which their starting pitchers strike out 43 and walk six in 29 innings while allowing just seven earned runs (a collective 2.17 ERA), which is exactly what their starters have done during this four-game losing streak.
- Small sample sizes are relevant and should carry more weight than, say, a championship season that’s not even five-and-a-half months old.
- Baseball makes rational sense
The point isn’t to fire rainbow-colored missiles of unbridled optimism at your pessimistic defenses. If you want to rant and rave about Derek Fisher’s or Jake Marisnick’s or Brad Peacock’s troubling starts, you’ll get no argument from me. They’ve been terrible.
But Altuve, Bregman, and Springer haven’t suddenly forgotten how to hit. We need to remember that the regular season is a laborious, up-and-down slog, not a pulse-pounding, heart-racing 18-game season in which the lone survivor gets to throw itself a downtown parade.
In other words, we need to Forget Los Angeles.
***Stats via Baseball-Reference prior to last night’s game***