Astros: Five things the team did well in 2018

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CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 08: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros celebrates with teammates in the dugout after scoring a run in the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians during Game Three of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field on October 8, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 08: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros celebrates with teammates in the dugout after scoring a run in the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians during Game Three of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field on October 8, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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BALTIMORE, MD – SEPTEMBER 29: George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros hits a two-run home run in the sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles during Game One of a doubleheader at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 29, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

Limited the strikeouts

Remember when there was a concern about the number of strikeouts the Astros were accumulating early in the season? Let’s just say that the worrying didn’t last long. All in all, Houston finished with the second-lowest total strikeout total (1,197) and second-lowest strikeout rate (19.5%). Only their ALDS opponent, the Indians, finished lower in both categories.

When the Astros’ historic offense in 2017 was all said and done, the lack of strikeouts was viewed as a key byproduct of their approach. The change in approach is something fun to watch in recent seasons, despite a slight uptick in 2018.

Team strikeout rate

  • 2015: 22.9% (2nd)

  • 2016: 23.4% (4th)

  • 2017: 17.3% (30th)

  • 2018: 19.5% (29th)

Will less strikeouts from year to the next the only way to improve an offense? Nope. In fact, it is not a given that an offense would actually improve by striking out less. But the Astros continued to do something well that was a key change to the formula from years past. Gone are the days, at least temporarily, of high strikeout hitters like Chris Carter and Colby Rasmus.

As most of the position players are returning in 2019, the Astros ability to limit strikeouts may come in handy next season. In this era of the three true outcomes (walk, strikeout, or home run), the ability to get the ball in play could help quite a bit in the postseason.

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