Here’s What the Resurgent Astros Are Doing Right – MLB BaseballTuesday, October 13, 2015 21:00
The Houston Astros are surging.
Here’s What the Resurgent Astros Are Doing Right
The Houston Astros are lucky to be in the playoffs – and they’re playing like they know it.
Sure, the Astros had a good year, but they didn’t end the season where many thought they would. The Astros led the American League West for much of the season, and at the height of their powers they enjoyed a better than 90% probability of taking the division crown. Instead, they spiraled downward over the last quarter of the season. It wasn’t until the Angels lost on the last day of the season that the Astros finally clinched a Wild Card spot – and they did so on a day that they themselves lost, which cost them home field advantage in the single-elimination Wild Card Game.
Then, suddenly, the Astros turned it back on again. Cy Young frontrunner Dallas Kuechel led a resurgent squad past the Yankees with ease, and the Astros attacked the Royals in the ALDS with a newfound passion.
The Astros have their hands full with a tough Royals team right now, but they’re hardly outclassed. The Astros have hung tight with the winningest team in the American League, taking a game in Kansas City and a game in Houston. They even had the Royals on the ropes in Game 5, until the Royals’ remarkable 8th-inning comeback forced a decisive Game 5 in Kansas City. Whatever the outcome of that game, you have to hand it to the Astros: they’ve come a long way. So what are they doing right?
Hitting the Long Ball
The Astros aren’t really a team that hits for average. As a team, they had a .250 batting average this season, which was 21st out of MLB’s 30 teams. They were only a little better in OBP, with a .315 mark that was good for 16th in MLB. But hitting for power? They can do that. Their .437 slugging percentage was tops in the National League and second in MLB (only Toronto had them beat).
In a good game for the Astros, they’ll get a decent performance out of their starting pitcher and then win the game with homers, preferably of the milt-run variety. And that’s exactly what Houston has done in this October: they’ve sent 6 balls out of the park, the most of any team this postseason.
Quieting Those Bats
It was Houston’s bats that went quiet at the end of the regular season. Now that we’re in the postseason, it’s their opponents who can’t get the offense going.
Of all the postseason teams, only St. Louis can boast an ERA lower than Houston’s (and the Cardinals have only played two games at the time of this writing, while the Astros have made use of their entire rotation). Houston’s strong 2.31 ERA is thanks in a large part to ace Dallas Kuechel, who has pitched 13 innings with a minuscule 0.69 ERA.
Relying on Colby Rasmus
Yeah, we’re giving LF Colby Rasmus his own section. He’s been that good this postseason. Rasmus is batting an absolutely bonkers .500/.667/1.429. That’s not a typo – his slugging percentage starts with a 1 before the decimal point. That makes his OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) a 2.095. Unreal.
Did we mention that Rasmus has four of the team’s six postseason home runs? He’s the major contributor to the homer-happy style that the Astros have rediscovered of late.
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