November 15, 2018

Where Is the Offense?

May 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Houston Astros have started slowly for several years (9-13 in April, 2009 and 13-16 in 2008).  However, the month of April, 2010 (8-14) was even worse.  After the Club started 0-8, there was a brief ray of hope when the team went 8-2 in the next 10 games including a 3 game sweep of the Pirates.  However, the month ended with a 4-game losing streak which is continuing into May.

The big problem has been offense, particularly with the middle of the batting order.  The Astros scored only 70 runs in 22 games, an average of 3.18 runs per game while allowing 4.50 runs per game.  The next lowest run total in the major leagues was 82 by the Pirates.  The Astros ranked last in the major leagues in April in on-base percentage (.281), slugging average (.331) and bases on balls (39).  The next lowest bases on balls total in the National League was 68 by the Giants and the Astros were the only team with an on-base percentage less than .300.

The Astros hit 9 home runs in April, the same number as the surprise league-leader, Kelly Johnson of the Diamondbacks.  No Astro player had more than two.  The offense was hurt by the absence of Lance Berkman who missed the first 14 games while recovering from knee surgery.  However, the big problem was the lack of production from Carlos Lee (.183, 0 home runs and 5 RBIs) and Hunter Pence (.232-2-7).  The top of the order was productive with Michael Bourn (.407 on-base percentage) and Jeff Keppinger (.356 OBP) providing plenty of opportunities for the hitters in the middle.

The Astros pitching was slightly better than the league average with an ERA of 3.92 compared to the league average of 4.26.  Roy Oswalt had quality starts in all 5 of his appearances but only 2 wins.  No other pitcher had more than one win.  Matt Lindstrom picked up saves in six of the Astros eight wins.

Looking ahead, Berkman, Lee and Pence are going to have to regain their previous form if the team is to be reasonably competitive.  The bottom end of the batting order has not been strong and is not likely to get much better.  The pitching staff lacks depth and can not be expected to improve upon the pace set in April.

A SABR member since 1984, Bill has written articles for The National Pastime, The Baseball Research Journal and other publications and web sites.  For the past 16 years, he has worked for Tal Smith Enterprises on salary arbitration and has attended many arbitration hearings.

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