Astros 2022 Mid-Season Report

We have reached the halfway point in the season. Overall, the Astros are doing GREAT and have a large lead in the division. So let's review what is going well and where the team needs to improve to make a run at the World Series yet again.


This mid-season report will include a refresh on a lot of the same info we had in the opening day season guide. We don't hide from what we predict here, so you can review what we said in April here.


The data here is based on 81 games of the first half of the season. Some players have had a really good performance in the last two games.


Here is the structure of this mid-season report.

  1. Analysis of the Astros Current Roster

  2. Heat Map Projections and Position by position ratings

  3. 1H Batting Statistics

  4. 2H Batting Projections

  5. 1H Pitching Statistics

  6. 2H Pitching Projections

  7. Summary

  8. Revised Season Prediction


Analysis of the Astros Current Roster

(per Roster Resource on Fangraphs.com)


Heat Map Projections and Position by position ratings- Those familiar with what we produce at LarryTheGM.com will recognize the following heat map. These are how Fangraph.com projects each team will deliver WAR for the rest of the season by position and we highlight where the Astros compare.

The key for this table is to understand where the Astros rank by position to understand their relative strengths and weaknesses as a team to the league. In short, the top team will be deep red, and the bottom team will be dark blue. The table attached is sorted by overall WAR.


The Astros project to have the third highest WAR. Here are the rankings by position in the 1H and where the statistical projections believe the Astros will be in the 2H.

Overall the Astros are projected to continue to produce the third best WAR but down slightly from the 1H.


  • The Catcher position has been a value added disaster so far this season at -0.8 WAR. The projection systems believe Maldonado will recover some but sill deliver the worst value in the league.

  • First base also lags far below average as the 23rd most production. This might be the best potential spot to materially improve the offense in the 2H.

  • Altuve is projected to deliver the BEST WAR in the MLB in the 2H.

  • Pena is expected to cool off significantly as the league learns how to adjust to his strengths. If he does go from the 4th highest WAR at SS in the 1H to the 18th highest WAR at SS in the 2H, the team will need to improve in other areas.

  • Some of the improved production is projected to come from Bregman at 3B. He projects deliver the 5th highest WAR in the 2H at 3B.

  • Brantley and Alvarez and others split time in LF and delivered the BEST production at that position in the 1H. The Astros project to deliver the 4th best LF value in the 2H.

  • Center Field is transitioning from a McCormick/ Siri timeshare which was 14th best in the 1H to a primarily Meyers starting and similar production in the 2H. Meyers currently seems to be ready to over produce this projection.

  • Kyle Tucker has been an All-Star level performer in RF producing the 2nd best WAR in the 1H and projecting to do the same in the 2H.

  • Despite Alvarez playing quite a bit in LF in the 1H, the Astros DH has been 2nd best in WAR in the 1H. Alvarez is not likely to slow down and projects to deliver the BEST WAR in the 2H.

  • The Starting pitching has been very good in WAR. They project to continue to be the 6th best SP in the 2H but deliver less WAR.

  • The relief pitchers are doing well delivering 8th best WAR and continue to project to deliver at that level.

1H Batting Statistics


Here are the details of the 1H Batting Statistics. The data follows the bullet points above. I have detailed what I call the wOBA gap which is a measure of how lucky a batter has been. A large positive wOBA gap means a player has been performed better than what one should expect from the quality of the contact he has made (exit velocity, barrel rate, etc.) as reflected in his xwOBA. Conversely, a large negative wOBA gap would indicate a player has been unlucky. Due to a deader ball this year the league average is a -0.019 wOBA gap. Anyone with a gap smaller than that (more negative) should be expected to perform BETTER in the 2H assuming they maintain their contact profile.


The players that should perform better- < -0.04

Alvarez (!), Tucker, Brantley, Maldonado, Castro (if he plays)

The players that should be about the same- > -0.04 and < 0.2

Altuve, Bregman, Pena, McCormick, Gurriel, Diaz, Siri

The players that should perform worse- > 0.2- NONE

Too small of Sample Size- Meyers, Matijevik, Goodrum


This would say the team is ready to explode offensively.


2H Batting Projections


How does Fangraphs project the 2H for the Astros Batters?

One can see the projected stats for the 2H and whether that is an improvement or a decrease over the 1H.


Projected to cool off- Alvarez, Altuve, Pena

Projected to get better/ even hotter- Bregman, Gurriel, Dubon, Siri, Diaz, Goodrum, Castro, Maldonado


Through either projection, the Astros offense is likely to get better.


1H Pitching Statistics


This is going to be a ton of numbers. The thing to remember always is RED IS GOOD.

Just at a glance you can see why the pitching has been good.

  • Verlander is the Hall of Famer that he is

  • Valdez and Javier are pitching like Aces

  • The bullpen has been good and balanced with surprisingly great performances from Stanek, Martinez, Montero, and Abreu.

  • Pressly has been good not great which means relative to expectations it has been a little short of them.

  • Neris's FIP indicates indicates it could be better than it has been.

One issue the Astros have had over the past couple of years is the tendency to have very high platoon splits. A pitcher has been good from one side or another but not both.


Maton and Urquidy are really the only two experiencing this as reflected in the wOBA. Oddly, both are struggling vs. RHH. This has been true of them before at times.


Pitching statistics often take time to reflect true performance and it helps to consider xwOBA here as well.


We are going to look at the xwOBA stats to see if they indicate more of a worrisome platoon split.

Urquidy and Maton have the same bad split vs. RHH in xwOBA. Taylor (who is likely done for the year) is consistently poor vs. RHH. Odorizzi xwOBA vs. LHH is worrisome. Pressly is also significantly worse vs. LHH in xwOBA. (Pressly was one of the few Astros pitchers that did not have this issue last year.


Also, the wOBA split also indicates a measure of luck of the 1H pitching stats. If the wOBA gap here is really low (a bigger negative number- BLUE) it indicates the current performance may not sustain in the 2H.


You see all of the blue in both the xwOBA vs. LHH and vs. RHH. That indicates the xwOBAs of the staff are generally not as good as the wOBAs indicate. They are likely to pitch worse in the 2H. This is the data I have not wanted to publicize too much yet hoping it might normalize.

  • Verlander, Valdez, and Odorizzi are likely to do worse vs. LHH.

  • Urquidy and to a lesser extent Verlander and Garcia are likely to do worse vs. RHH.

  • It is a challenge to apply this to the relief pitcher because the sample size is small.

  • If the gaps are right the relief staff as a whole is going to be significantly worse vs. LHH

  • Stanek and Pressly may be worse vs. RHH


The application of this analysis makes it very clear that while the pitching has been awesome in the 1H, it is NOT likely to do so well in the 2H. There are likely still some of the platoon splits that the pitching staff had last year. What do the projection systems indicate about each pitcher in the 2H?


2H Pitching Projections

The projection systems expect the Astros pitching to more normalize and be fairly consistent throughout the staff.

In general, most pitchers project to do worse with the biggest drops in performance to Martinez, Stanek, Montero, Abreu, and Verlander on an ERA basis. The drops in FIP are less pronounced.


McCullers will return in the 2H and should perform well. I am not sure I agree with the projection system that he will start 7 games. I can see him being used as the long relief pitcher for the rest of 2022.


I conclude the Astros DO need some help from a strong LHRP.


Summary


I suspect that the projections and the wOBA gaps indicating that the pitching will be good but not as great as the first half and that the offense may lead the league in runs scored will be true. I look for the offense to lead the Astros to many victories in the 2H. This will be especially true if a strong position player is added.


Season Prediction


As currently constructed, I would project the Astros to win 98-104 games and finish first in the AL West. I will say 101 wins and a loss in the ALCS.


Please give me your thoughts on this guide and any questions you have in the comments below.


You should check out the articles on Catcher and First Base. I lay out some specific trade targets I would go after. Soon, I will be publishing an article on the possible relief targets.


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