Monday, October 10, 2016
The Houston Astros missed the playoffs by 5 games this year. And instead of being upset by that, I am happy. Why? Because the team was a flawed team and is showed during the last 2 weeks. In the final 10 games, the team went 3-7. Against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim they went 2-5. The Angels finished 21 games back of the West winners, Texas Rangers. When you are fighting for a wildcard spot, that cannot happen. The Astros also played the Mariners who were also fighting for a wildcard spot. The Mariners took 2 of 3. It hurt, but this will help the Astros for the future. There are three things that need to improve. 1) Beating the Texas Rangers. 2) Improve the batting average. 3) Improve the starting rotation. I believe that the Astros are figuring that out.
1) Beating the Texas Rangers. This year, the Astros went 5-14 against the Rangers. If the Astros went 9-10 against them, they are 1 GB in the wildcard and maybe, just maybe the Angels would have faced a different team in those last 10 games. In 2015, they were abysmal against the Rangers as well. If your biggest rival continuously beats you, you need to figure out how to change to beat them. Jeff Luhnow will figure that out. Maybe we can get a couple of veterans to help with that.
2) Improve the batting average. This needs to happen now! We have the batting champ, Jose Altuve hitting .338. The next highest is Carlos Correa at .274. We only had 5 players achieve 400 AB. That hurts with hitting, but that doesn't explain everything. When a starting outfielder and your catcher are below the Mendoza line, you have problems. Just to show you the problems with the Astros line up, Jose Altuve lead in average, RBI, OPS, hits, steals, doubles and slugging. The 1B and 3B of the future did not live up to the hype when promoted to the big leagues. In fact, AJ Reed went about .160 on the batting average. For a 1B, that still sucks.They both became injured during the year. Being a young team, this is a definate area to work on.
3) Improve the rotation. The reigning Cy Young award winner went 9-12, battled through injuries throughout the year and finally went down with a shoulder for the rest of the year in August. Lance McCullers started 14 games for this year. That is your #1 and 2 starters. Most teams cannot make it through that. Houston is one of those teams. Collin McHugh, Doug Fister, and Mike Fiers are not beginning of the rotation starters and everybody knows it. They could not pick up the slack and the team paid for it. Everybody besides McCullers who started at least 10 games for the Astros had an ERA over 4. You are not going to make the playoffs like that.
In 2015, the Astros started fast and faded. In 2016, the team went 5-15 during April. Eliminate that start, you have a team that went 79-63 for the rest of the year. That is a .556 clip. That is good enough for the 1st wildcard in the AL. It shows that the Astros aren't that far off. Let's put it this way, if the Cubs can eliminate the curse of the Billy Goat and all the other curses that go along with being a fan of that team, then the Astros can win their first World Series in the near future and shake the disappointments of playoffs past. All the team needs is some fine tuning.