Here are some interesting small-sample numbers from the first 12 games of the Houston Astros 2021 season.
It’s been an up and down first 12 games of 2021 for the Houston Astros, to say the least. The team is 6-6, having gone from looking like a juggernaut in the season-opening road trip to looking like a mess during the first homestand. Getting swept by the still-rebuilding Tigers isn’t the path to another World Series.
Still, it’s 12 games in a 162-game season, so it’s far too early to sound the alarms. It’s also far too early to put any stock in players’ individual stats, as those will often level out over the course of the year. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look at those numbers and take note of the curious, the abnormal and the unexpected, even if we know they’ll likely change soon.
So as the Astros embark on their second road trip of the season, here are a few interesting stats that may or may not continue as we progress through the team’s schedule.
Yuli Gurriel is off to a scorching start, hitting .429/.547/.595 through 53 plate appearances, leading the league in on-base percentage. His 11 walks are one fewer than his total in 230 plate appearances in 2020 and exactly half of his total in 564 plate appearances in 2017.
Kyle Tucker leads the team in home runs (four) and RBIs (11) but has only a .241 on-base percentage, which is second-worst on the team. In spite of that, his slugging percentage is higher than that of Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman. It helps when seven of your 10 hits go for extra bases.
Jason Castro has only two hits in 15 plate appearances this season, but both of those hits are home runs. That has helped him tally an OPS of exactly 1.000, which is 73 percent better than league average right now and third-best on the team. Not bad for a guy who’s hitting .167.
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In the team’s first 12 games, only three times has the Astros starting pitcher completed more than five innings — Zack Greinke did it twice and Jose Urquidy did it once. That’s why Cristian Javier, who has the best ERA among the team’s starters, was sent to the alternate site to get stretched out more.
The team leader in saves is not closer Ryan Pressly; in fact, Pressly has yet to register a save despite making four scoreless appearances thus far. The only Astros pitcher to record a save is Brooks Raley, who got the last five outs of a 9-1 win on April 3 (he got out of a jam in the eighth and the Astros scored four runs in the top of the ninth). Raley has a 9.00 ERA and 1.600 WHIP but leads the team in saves.
Here are some really unsustainable numbers. In his first seven innings, Ryne Stanek has allowed only one hit (a solo homer) and one walk, giving him a 0.286 WHIP. He has as many strikeouts in seven innings as Greinke has in 17.2 innings. Joe Smith has given up 21.6 hits per nine innings and a 2.700 WHIP. Enoli Paredes has allowed 40.5 walks per nine innings and a 6.000 WHIP.
Yes, I know Smith and Paredes have only combined to throw 4.2 innings, so it’s an incredibly small sample. All these numbers are. Who would’ve thought that Stanek, Bryan Abreu and Brandon Bielak would join Pressly as the team’s best relievers while Smith, Paredes and Blake Taylor struggle? It’s a long season so things may not stay that way, but it’s fun to point out.