Before every series I will post these charts to help you get ready for the games, The methodology is described below.
I apologize for being a day late with this. I have been busy with other content for you. Here are some of the articles you may have missed the last few days.
Seattle turned out to be pretty tough on our Astros. Now the team heads to Anahein to take on the Angels.
The Astros roster should be in flux this series.
While in Seattle the Astros added JP France and Brandon Bielak to replace the injured Urquidy and Garcia.
McCormick returns tonight and Bannon returns to AAA
Brantley is likely to return tomorrow. I assume it will be Salazar to go back to AAA.
The Angels announced today that
Transferred LHP José Quijada to 60-day injured list
Placed LHP José Suarez (left shoulder strain) on 15-day injured list
Selected the contract of RHP César Valdez
The Angels are 19-16 and the Astros are 17-17. The Astros are tied for third place in the AL West. This is probably news to those who swore to me that the 2023 Astros were better than last year's team.
So, how do these two teams matchup?
Overall Preseason WAR Comparisons
Before the season this is how the two teams compared from a projected WAR standpoint.
The Angels projected to be an average team. In a matchup with the Astros they had advantages at catcher, CF, and SP.
Here is our modified table that shows the WAR by position so far, the projected WAR for the ROS, and then what the cumulative total WAR would be.
From an ACTUAL WAR delivered standpoint overall, the Angels have a 9 to 7.5 advantage. Trout has been Trout. The Angels bullpen has been twice as good as the Astros. Hard to do.
The rest of the season projections are consistent generally with the preseason numbers. The Astros have the advantage, but it is shrinking. Again, these are the season projection numbers and NOT my opinion.
By the preseason WAR method, Los Angeles would be predicted to win 84 games in 2023 vs. the 89 for the Astros. Projected after their starts, the Angels would track to win 81 games and the Astros have fallen to project only 83.
Let's compare the competition these two teams have faced.
According to the website MLB Strength of Schedule Rankings (powerrankingsguru.com),
The Angels have played the 25nd rated schedule so far in the MLB. Don't worry they have the seventh rated remaining schedule.
The Astros have played the seventh rated schedule so far. Their remaining schedule is only the 19th rated schedule.
NOTE- the projection numbers have now been updated to the projections as of May 1st. This shifts several of the baseline Astros grades too. The defensive projections also were updated which affected the full season defensive WAR and the defensive grade bumps up and down.
Chart 1- Position Player Roster
Defensive Positions and rosters with bench and key minor league players. Who is injured? Then, the relative scores to arrive at who is better.
The issue for the Angels offense over the past few years has been durability and injuries. If the key players are healthy, they are good. For this series, the key players are healthy.
This is why the matchup grade here is basically break even between these two teams. It is not clear when Brantley returns but it isn't today according to Dusty.
As shown in this article, the team entered this series in a team wide hitting funk except for Alvarez and Pena.
So far this season, the Angels bats have been significantly better than the Astros bats.
How will the bats play out? It is too close to be definitive.
Chart 2- The Projected Batting Orders
In this section I predict the general batting order I expect both teams to use this series. I MIGHT update this as the series progresses. You also see how the batting lineup compares with the 2023 projected grades.
This will be an interesting but not impossible test for the Astros pitching. It really depends on containing Trout and Ohtani- not easy to do.
Chart 3- Pitching Rosters
Starters and Relief pitcher rosters with key minor league players. Who is injured? Then, the relative scores to arrive at who is better.
The report card projections say the Astros have a significant pitching advantage mostly in the bullpen.
The reality of the season so far is that the Angels bullpen has been GREAT and as we showed the Angels bullpen has delivered twice the WAR that the Astros relievers have. Both teams have a lot of pitcher injuries.
I have to trust that the Angels bullpen is NOT this good.
Chart 4- Starting Pitching Matchups,
In this section we look at the SP matchups by game.
The pitching advantage is also somewhat muted by not getting Adnderson. The Astros are scheduled for their top 3 to pitch however.
Tuesday's Valdez vs. Ohtani is must see baseball.
Series Prediction- I need to address this. THIS Article is about the matchup and not a prediction. Predicting three games series results is nearly impossible. I do these predictions as a SUMMARY of what I think all of the matchup data is saying.
I believe the Astros will take one in this series but almost any result COULD happen. The Angels are a better team than you probably believe.
As we have discussed in the previous Astros Report Card Articles here is the grading scale for the position players.
To account for the value of defense a player can get a letter grade bump up or down based on their projected defensive WAR (or actual defensive WAR for 2022) for their primary defensive position.
For the pitchers we will use these two scales- one for 2023 based on projected FIP and the other for the 2022 actual FIP- data.
The overall score will be based on the point values to the right. The differences are tallied in the columns to the right.
Overall Score = Starter Differences + Bench Differences / 2 + MiLB Players Differences /4