I didn’t see Geoff Blum’s alleged double that got called a flyout. Even so, I doubt it was a game-changer. The Astros allowed 15 baserunners Saturday night, so they were fortunate to hold the Rockies to 3 runs.
It is funny how a poor team’s weaknesses get exposed so quickly once the season starts. Here’s a list of the Astros’ weaknesses:
1. Getting on base: I love Michael Bourn and think he will be a good player, and they can’t live without him — they’re barely living with him — in center field. But his OBP is .307, which admittedly is better than they were getting out of the leadoff spot last year, but still is a number that needs to rise 50 points.
2. Defense: Wow, this is an awful defensive team. Here are some defensive categories and the Astros’ ranking in them:
- fewest runs allowed, 84, tied for 11th in the league.
- fewest hits allowed, 181, 15th.
- fewest hits minus home runs, 157, 14th.
- fewest home runs allowed, 24, 15th.
- batting average against, .288, 14th.
- OBP against, .338, 13th.
- SLG against, .468, 16th.
- SLGBIP against (slugging percentage on balls in play), .410, 13th.
Here’s a table showing NL pitching as batting statistics, thanks to Baseball-Reference.com with a few tweaks on my part.
But this is the gamble that Ed Wade took — that the offense would be strong enough to overcome some weak defense, and that the division would be weak enough that he might luck into a playoff spot. And so far the gamble is not paying off — he may well have already lost it. The offense is not scoring with any consistency, and the division is turning out to have a few good teams in it so far. Baseball Prospectus has the Astros’ chances of making the playoffs at less than 6 percent, already.
3. Offense: Cecil Cooper is tinkering with the 3-4-5 guys. I honestly have no idea why this would change anything. What I would do: Pull a page from the Cardinals’ book and hit the pitcher eighth. Move Bourn or Matsui into the 9 hole, and bat Pence second. Hit Towles sixth — it looks like he can actually hit. So 1-9 the order would look like this: Bourn-Pence-Berkman-Lee-Tejada-Towles-third baseman-pitcher-Matsui. Or you could hit Towles second. So far he looks like a poor man’s Dwight Evans, and Dwight Evans would be in the Hall of Fame if it were up to me.