Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense

Joe Fernandez
HOUSTON, TEXAS - JUNE 22: Yordan Alvarez #44 of the Houston Astros high fives Kyle Tucker #30 after hitting a solo home run during the first inning against the New York Mets at Minute Maid Park on June 22, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - JUNE 22: Yordan Alvarez #44 of the Houston Astros high fives Kyle Tucker #30 after hitting a solo home run during the first inning against the New York Mets at Minute Maid Park on June 22, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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The Houston Astros starting rotation and bullpen have been nothing short of magnificent the entire 2022 season. The offense however has had its fair share of ups and downs, looking nothing like the previous five seasons of offensive juggernauts Houston fans have become accustomed to.

The Houston Astros should shuffle the lineup to ensure their top four hitters are in the top four spots.

The Astros are averaging 4.49 runs per game, good for 10th in MLB.  However now that October is approaching it’s time to start looking at how they stack up against the competition. And of the 12 teams currently in position for the postseason they rank eighth in runs per game.

The lack of production can be traced to Michael Brantley’s absence at the two spot in the lineup. The vacancy left there has been filled by Jeremy Pena in the past month and he’s done a fine enough job filling in.

That said he certainly doesn’t have nearly the command of the strike zone that Michael Brantley had.  Brantley rarely struck out and was always able to barrel the ball up pretty well when he did swing.  His numbers this season bare out the professional hitter that he was.

In 64 games he hit .288 with a .370 on base percentage and walked 31 times to 30 strikeouts. He was also posting the highest hard hit rate of his career with 45.8 percent of his balls put in play at an exit velocity of 95 miles per hour or above.

Compare that to Pena who has hit .247 with a .284 on base percentage and despite having played in 43 more games than Brantley has walked just 19 times. He also leads the team in strikeouts with 118 and his hard hit rate this year is 35.4 percent, a full 10 percent behind Brantley.

The best fix for this lineup is getting the top four hitters the most at-bats. Hence the Astros ideal offensive lineup should be shuffled to the following:

  1. Jose Altuve 2B
  2. Kyle Tucker RF
  3. Alex Bregman 3B
  4. Yordan Alvarez DH
  5. Yuli Gurriel 1B
  6. Trey Mancini LF
  7. Christian Vazquez C
  8. Jeremy Pena SS
  9. Chas McCormick CF

The New York Yankees hit Aaron Judge second in their lineup. The Los Angeles Angels do the same with Mike Trout. Those are the best and second best hitters on those respective teams. And while it’s debatable who the best hitter on the Astros is right now considering Yordan Alvarez’ recent struggles, it only makes sense to get your best four hitters the most at-bats by putting them all at the top of the order

It also returns the righty-lefty-righty-lefty dynamic in the top four that fell apart when Michael Brantley was lost for the year.

And while Tucker lags in comparison to Michael Brantley’s plate discipline and high contact rate, he makes up for it with a huge upgrade in power and the ability to steal bases leading the team with 22. The next highest stolen base total is Jose Altuve with 15.

Tucker would also have better protection in the lineup with Bregman and Alvarez lurking behind him giving him better pitches to hit rather than a pitcher being able to pitch around him due to the Astros lack of depth in the lineup.

Considering their huge lead in the division and a pretty solid lead for the number one overall seed in the American League it’s certainly worth experimenting with. Anything is worth trying to jump start the offense before playoff time.

Moving Tucker to the two spot, Bregman to the three and Alvarez hitting cleanup could be the best possible option heading into October.

"Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title"

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