Updated: Feb 24
What was the greatest Astros team ever?
How do the 2022 Astros compare with the other great Astros teams?
This will be a two-part series where we answer what Astros season had the best team ever.
In part one, we are going to compare the teams most current Astros fans know- the 2017-2022 teams- the Dynasty Era. Today, we will explore which of these teams was the best.
We are going to follow a similar methodology that was described in the 2023 Astros Graded Depth Chart article. Click the button to read those details.
For THIS analysis we will
use wRC+ and FIP- as the basis because those will translate performance over seasons
NOT include the minors
score based on
the top three position players based on playing time at each position (except where no reserve had sufficient PA to be considered)
the top seven starting pitchers (except where extra SP did not have sufficient IP to be considered)
the top five high leverage and/or late game relief pitchers (same exception)
the top five lower leverage and/or mid game relief pitchers and/or long relievers (same exception)
For the scoring system for this looks like this
For the position players the grades are based on wRC+
The backups have an adjustment which slides the scale to reward good backups.
Catchers also have their own scale due to the dearth of offense at that position.
The defense is set up as an adder or subtractor of one letter grade depending on defensive WAR
For the pitchers the grades are based on FIP-
The different pitching roles have their scales.
Here is the data for the 2022 Team.
The wRC+ batting data
The green cells earn a defensive upgrade, and the pink cells earn a defensive downgrade.
Therefore, here are the position player letter grades.
For the position players
The starters grade is B+
Altuve, Bregman, Brantley, Tucker, and Alvarez were ALL A or A+ grades
Pena scored a B
Maldonado and McCormick earned Cs
Gurriel rates out as an F
I know typing that will be extremely unpopular but that is how the scoring came out.
Perhaps this illustrates what I have been trying to say for months. I will just leave it at that.
The FIP- pitching data
I also included the FIP numbers so you can see how the two align.
Therefore, here are the pitching letter grades.
For the pitchers
The starters grade is A-
Verlander was the lone A+
Valdez and Javier rated As
McCullers scored a B
Garcia, Urquidy, and Odorizzi earned Cs
The high leverage RPs grade is A+. The bullpen was INCREDIBLE.
Pressly, Neris, and Abreu all scored A+
Montero rated an A
Stanek earned a B
The low leverage and long RPs grade is B-
Brown showed promise and scored A+
Martinez rated a B
Maton and Smith earned Cs
Taylor was the lone D
You will notice each letter grade below will have an associated color. Similar to most heat charts you see on this website Red is GREAT. For this scale Blue is bad and Purple is terrible. You can see the color scale to the left and the score associated with each grade.
Comparing the 2017-2022 Astros Teams- Which was Best?
So, that is how the 2022 team graded in detail, but how good was that team vs. the other teams in the Astros dynasty run?
Let me start with the data at the highest level.
This graph shows the relationship between the ratings score from this analysis and the win total from that season.
Let's focus on the position players grades in more detail.
The Astros offenses in 2017, 2019, and 2021 graded the highest with the 2019 offense being the best. All three of those hitters were in the top 3 in run production in their seasons. The 2019 offense scored the most runs per game. The 2019 Astros scored the second most runs in any season. The 2017 Astros scored the fourth most runs in any season.
The 2022 Astros hitters are the second worst on this list. As 4.55 runs/game the offense scored the least runs/game in this era. However, the 4.55 was still above the league average 4.28 runs/game. The lack of league wide runs should be considered when evaluating the Astros pitching as well. This is why we are using wRC+ and FIP-.
The relative runs scored rank is the best data point to compare to our grade.
The complete detailed grade grid for the hitting looks like this. You can see where each year excelled and lagged behind.
Let's focus on the pitcher grades in more detail.
The pitching in 2018, 2022, and 2019 were all incredible and ranked in the top two in runs allowed per game. This validates the great scores they got in this system. The 2018 pitching was the best of this era.
The 2022 pitching scored the second best, and this is validated by the 2022 pitching giving up the FEWEST runs in a 162-game season in franchise history (518). The 2018 Astros only gave up 534 runs (second fewest). As shown the league average runs allowed in 2019 were a lot higher than runs allowed in 2018 which was higher than the runs allowed in 2022.
As we discussed in the hitting summary the relative rank is the best to compare to the score from this method. The grading system ranked the 2022 Astros as the second best in this era and that would appear to be correct.
The complete detailed grade grid for the pitching looks like this. You can see where each year excelled and lagged behind.
Overall Grade Summary
The grades say the 2022 Astros were the third best team in this era behind the 2019 and 2018 teams. The 2019 Astros were the best. It is crazy that the two championship teams are probably the third and fourth best teams in this era.
Let's say this
The 2022 Astros Team was the BEST Astros team to win the World Series.
That sounds pretty good, right?
Next Time- How does the 2022 Astros team line up with the other GREAT Astros Teams in franchise history? Tell me what teams you want me to compare to.
Future- How does the 2023 Astros team compare to these dynasty era teams?
How does this Astros dynasty era Compare to other dynasty eras?
Needless to say, this data and grading system is going to give us lots of content all the way until opening day.
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