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.