Can the Houston Astros Get Their Groove Back?
- Created on Monday, 20 July 2015 20:50
- Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 July 2015 02:06
- Written by Travis Pulver
The Houston Astros were not expected to do much this season so the fact that they led their division for most of the first half of the season means they have surpassed expectations. However, the problem with surpassing expectations is that people start to raise them even higher.
With the way the team limped in to the All-Star break with a 6-game losing streak fans began to wonder if the team was falling back down to reality. Has the team been playing above and beyond expectations all season? Is this what the norm is going to be?
Can the team get that winning groove back after the All-Star break?
A lot of the talk surrounding the team has been the need for pitching, but during the losing streak the pitching wasn’t the problem. In the six losses the team gave up just 19 runs (two, four, three, three, three, and four). That’s not bad.
What is bad is the offense the team supported the pitching staff with—seven runs in six games. Twice they were shut out and in another two games they only scored a single run.
Batting has not been a strong suit for the Astros in recent years and it really hasn’t been their best trait this year either. On the season they are hitting .241 (No. 25 in the league). The team’s batting average for the month of July leading up to the All-Star break was actually a little higher (.249).
Hmm….so what has the problem been?
It seems there has been a power outage. On the season the Astros have a slugging percentage of .420 (No.7 in the league) helped tremendously by 161 doubles (No. 6 in the league) and a league leading 128 home runs (yes, sports fans, the Houston Astros are the home run leaders in baseball). During the month of July that number has dipped to .388.
When you are hitting nothing but singles if enough of them are not stringed together in an inning it is pretty hard to score. Over the course of the losing streak the team scattered its 31 total hits across each game rarely getting multiple in a given inning. Without extra base hits that makes it kind of hard to score.
Since the break (all three games) the team appears to be getting back on track. They broke the losing streak in a 3-2 win over the Texas Rangers that saw the team make 15 hits (including five in the decisive third inning). That was followed by a 7-6 loss the next night, but of their eight hits four were extra bases (two home runs and two doubles).
In the series finale the power offense came. The Astros clobbered the Rangers 10-0 behind 13 hits of which six were extra base hits (four doubles and two home runs).
While the power display in the final game against the Rangers was nice over the course of the series it dipped even further to .372, but their average improved to .300. So when the power wasn’t working they were still generating enough offense to score runs (lead league in OPS since All-Star break .892; No. 10 before the break, .723).
Will it continue? Hopefully, and with the surge the Angels had before the break the team will need to do so if they are going to take back the division lead.