Astros in the 90th percentile in Offensive Categories

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Some fans find the plethora of numbers on Baseball Savant overwhelming, confusing or perhaps even useless. I’m not one of those.

Baseball is a game that lends itself to analysis by numbers, and I find it helpful in confirming, or rejecting, what you think you’re seeing with your eyes and helps me balance my inherent biases.

For example, we know Houston Astros Yuli Gurriel won the American League batting title, but would you be shocked to know that another American League player had a “better” season at the plate? How about another player on his own team?

I’ve detailed the difference in Gurriel’s batting average and his expected average before, but find it interesting that it’s Michael Brantley, not the batting champion Gurriel, that led the league in expected batting average.

Gurriel won the batting title and had a fantastic season, I’m not disputing that – the things that actually happen on the field trumps the “expected” – but I think it’s fair to point out the season Brantley had, too.

It was clear to anyone who watched more than a few Astros games last season, that Kyle Tucker had an incredible season and the numbers below put that into context when measured against the rest of the league.

Tucker was in the 90th percentile or higher in five categories, xWOBA, xBA, xSLG, xISO and xOBP.  It was a remarkable year for Tucker and my interpretation of the advanced metrics is there’s room for more.

Yordan Alvarez is in the top 10 percent in 7 of the 11 categories that an Astro made the 90th percentile in, led by top three percent finishes in exit velocity and HardHit%. Alvarez also had top four percent finishes in two other categories, xISO and the number of barreled balls.

One thing the 2021 Astros were very good at as a team is putting the bat on the ball.

Brantley, Gurriel, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman all were well over the 90th percentile in K% and Whiff% – that’s four ninths of the lineup on any given day in the top 10% of the league in both categories, with the duo of Brantley and Gurriel leading the way.

While it appears the chances of Carlos Correa returning to the Astros are slim, I found his offensive numbers intriguing, especially the 96th percentile in xBA. Correa batted .279 on the season, with an expected batting average of .296.

On the other hand, according to Correa is a lifetime .277 hitter with an expected lifetime average of, wait for it, .277. It appears Correa hit in some bad luck in 2021.

There were no Astros in the top 10 percent BB%, with Correa leading the way at the 84th percentile, followed by Bregman and Martin Maldonado in the 77th percentile.

A good example of using these numbers to rethink my position is in centerfield.

Neither Jake Meyers or Jose Siri had enough at bats to qualify for the metrics above, but those two were the only Houston batters in the 90th percentile or better in speed with Siri coming in at 99th percentile and Meyers at 95th.

Chas McCormick just missed out at 89th percentile.  I had no idea Siri was that fast and that’s definitely a plus for him, perhaps because I was biased towards McCormick.

On the defensive side, Correa, McCormick and Aledmys Diaz were all over the 90th percentile in outs above average at 98, 97 and 95 respectively, with Altuve and Tucker just missing the cut at 89th percentile.

Diaz’s is an interesting case and his overall outs above average number is somewhat misleading if anyone is thinking of him as a replacement for Correa.

In 59.1 innings as a shortstop in 2021, Diaz was one out below average, while in 248 innings at third base he was eight outs above average and that’s where he earned his 95th percentile ranking overall.

Next. Astros Prospect Catches Padres’ Yu Darvish. dark