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Astros: Barrel the Baseball!

The Astros struggles with RISP come down to being able to Barrel the Baseball.


Let's start with establishing what it really means to barrel a baseball. From MLB.com:


Let's review one of the biggest issues the 2024 Astros offense has - hitting with runners in scoring position.

The Astros are hitting 102 wRC+ with RISP and 111-112 wRC+ in every other opportunity. The team is second best in the league hitting when the bases are empty and is 16th best with RISP.


The team of largely the same players was third best in wRC+ with RISP last year.


Why is this happening? Let me invite you to explore the Astros ability to barrel the baseball. We will compare:


  • 2023 barrel rates- overall vs. RISP

  • 2024 barrel rates- overall vs. RISP

  • Overall barrel rates- 2023 vs. 2024

  • RISP barrel rates- 2023 vs. 2024


Data here is from Fangraphs.com and BaseballSavant.com

Let's start with last year's full season data.


2023 barrel rates- overall vs. RISP

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The Astros were a little better barreling the baseball with RISP than they were overall last year. The split of players better and worse was fairly even.



2024 barrel rates- overall vs. RISP

This table tells the 2024 story. The 2024 Astros are NOT barreling the baseball with RISP. It is almost not like the same team! Among the regulars only Singleton has been better this year barreling the baseball with RISP. The players down include:


  • 1st in the order Altuve down 3.7% (-63%)

  • 2nd in the order Tucker down 2.8% (-30%)

  • 3rd in the order Alvarez down 2.4% (-25%)

  • 4th in the order Bregman down 2.5% (-60%)

  • 5th in the order Pena down 2.9% to ZERO (-100%)

  • Diaz down 5.4% to ZERO (-100%)

  • Meyers down 2.3% (-35%)


It is a team wide problem. Is there an approach issue? Are they pressing?


Overall barrel rates- 2023 vs. 2024

As a team the 2024 vs 2023 overall barrel rates have not changed. However, a majority of players are worse. Tucker and Meyers are better.



RISP barrel rates- 2023 vs. 2024


The RISP yearly barrel rate data is quite alarming. Some players clearly had a better result with RISP last year.


Are they swinging at pitches outside the zone? Unfortunately, I cannot find O-swing data for only the RISP PAs.


This is definitely an issue to address and to monitor progress.


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