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What is Wrong with the Astros Bats?

Today, I will give you what NO ONE ELSE will- REASONS the Astros bats are cold. To be clear- this is my opinion. It is based on data as are most of my opinions.

First, let me say this. We are analyzing too small of a sample size to be statistically different. The Astros could score 7 runs today and make everything below irrelevant, but I don't think it is.

What I have done is compare the 2022 Astros postseason stats to their 2022 season statistics.

Some of this data does not surprise me. The Astros are hitting 0.694 for the postseason. I did project the Phillies pitching staff to make the batters a very average 0.312 xwOBA and the Yankees and Seattle staffs projected to do better than that. At a 0.694 OPS they are currently batting 12 points below the league average 0.706. This is probably close to what one would expect.

However, do pay attention to the BABIP columns. The 0.251 BABIP does feel unsustainably low if we had a long sample time. It's a sign of bad luck and that has hit several of our hitters. We don't. We have four more game at best.

Those are the team stats. The individual player's stats tell a much different story.

In this table there are five players who are ice cold when comparing their postseason OPS to their regular season OPS. Those players are

- Mancini - 610 points below

- Altuve - 512 points below

- Diaz - 474 points below

- Vazquez - 282 points below

- Alvarez - 261 point below

All of these COLD OPS gaps are worse than ANY of the hot gaps. WHY? Why are all of these guys so cold? I think the answers are different for each of them.

I said this on Twitter and this article is partly here to back this up

Fans there are 3 primary reason the bats are in a funk

- Altuve is HURT

- Yordan’s hand issues are back

- the manager ignored the front office’s help for this team and that help went cold

Is Altuve HURT?

One of my good friends asked did I know this. No but I am about to show you why

I think this. I asked several folks what they are seeing and I got this clip.

Harold Reynolds mentions the earlier hamstring injury and the power loss for Altuve. Further in this clip before this World Series, Harold says he thinks Altuve is fixed. Aster Game 2 we probably all agreed. Now I 'm not sure.

No one on the Astros ever is honest about injury issues until after the season. I think something is wrong with Altuve. I am not sure if it is his right knee, his right ankle, or his core. He is NOT generating power. The table above shows it. He is down 512 points in OPS. his ISO is down from 0.233 to 0,044. He is having SOME BABIP unluckiness but not like this.

Let's Compare the Statcast hit data

Maybe it is better in the World Series.

Here is one more data point for optimism. Altuve has not struck out since his first PA in the World Series.

Is he hurt? Has he been unlucky? Will he generate power? Something is wrong.

At some point this team NEEDS Altuve. Let's hope he is not hurt.

Are Yordan’s hand issues back?

On September 3rd, JoshuaTheAT said this about Yordan's right hand here.

In June the prospect of not having Yordan for 2+ months may have been too long of a time for him to miss. Especially after he was seemingly pain free in just a couple of days. But over time with all the impacts of swinging, that inflammation has seemed to come back and the pain is present again. If this is what is going on with Yordan, I hope he and the Astros are able to successfully get the inflammation to calm down and have him ready to go come October.

Folks, we WARNED you.

The last time Alvarez had a slump this bad was 7/30- 8/27 which was significantly worse. After that stretch the Astros had Yordan take 7 days off and he seemed to be fine when he came back. He had a great ALDS for 3 games. Since then not so much. Folks, Alvarez's hand was a time bomb. He knew it and the Astros knew it.

His OPS is down 261 points. However, he is having terrible BABIP luck. Here is his Statcast Data

Has Yordan's hand issue reappeared? They arent going to tell us but this data does not look good.

The truth is if Altuve and Alvarez are not right, this team will not win the World Series.

Here is the thing that PISSES me off the most. This team WAS built by the front office to weather an Altuve and Alvarez slump. The manager rejected the help.

The manager ignored the front office’s help for this team and that help went cold

Eighty percent of you just stopped reading. You do not want the truth but as long as I have my own website, I am going to tell the truth.

This team had two GLARING offensive issues. Both were addressed by James Click with arguably the BEST player he could get that would not mortgage the future. Dusty IMMEDIATELY said he would use them as PINCH HITTERS and spot starters.

Here is actually what happened.

Mancini arrived in Houston as a 0.751 OPS hitter this year that everyone said was being statistically dragged down by his reconfigured home ball park. He had been starting NINETY percent of their games with about half of those at DH, and almost 30% at 1B. This was in the exact period Yordan was slumping and could have been sent for surgery.

For the next 24 games Dusty started Mancini 71% of the time and his performance was actually BETTER than in Baltimore. It didn't matter, he started 3 TIMES at 1B while Gurriel was in an epic tailspin (OPS 0.579). After 3.5 weeks of career abnormal use in a season where he was massively outperforming the other first base option, Mancini went into a slump.

Dusty himself realized how asinine his usage pattern had been a bumped Mancini to 82%. It was too late. Dusty had ruined Mancini's timing, confidence, and performance.

Why? Because Dusty is stubborn and never wanted Mancini here and ignored the issues he had in Gurriel and Dubon (CF moving McCormick to LF) playing so dang much.

Vazquez arrived in Houston starting 76% of the time hitting a 0.759 OPS. Similar to Mancini, Dusty did massively slash his playing time to 35% with the excuse he did not know the pitchers. As if sitting on the bench was going to help. Let me say this again, for the first 23 games Vazquez was in Houston he started 35% (THIRTY FIVE! Less than half) of the time. He only got one start at DH and none at 1B - Boston gave him 5 GS at 1B to keep his starts at 76%.

Just like Mancini, Vazquez performed early but then after 3.5 weeks of career abnormal use in a season where he was massively outperforming the other catching option, Vazquez went into a slump.

Dusty himself realized how asinine his usage pattern had been and bumped Vazquez to 46% (how about 60-70%?). It was way too little and way too late. Dusty had ruined Vazquez's timing, confidence, and performance.

Why? Because Dusty is stubborn and never want Vazquez here and ignored the issues he had in Maldonado.

Folks, you may not think this characterization of how the Astros ruined Mancini and Vazquez is fair. I don't care. I watched it happen in real time tracked it and NOW in the postseason Dusty has two unproductive players so he can play HIS boys. his usage of these two now is either more egregiously stupid or completely justified in your mind depending if you accept my paradigm or not. It makes me sick and I have no time for the Dusty apologists that don't see this.

So there it is. This offense is good enough that it should NEVER get shut out. This team has systematically destroyed two options that could have been helping. Don't come at me with your emotion based opinion about my data based opinion here. After over FOUR months of trying to get the Astros to address these issues, I don't want to hear it.

So here we are last night.

Hitting is hard. Hitting when down 4-0 is really hard. Hitting when down 7-0 is damn near impossible. Why? Because we as humans when encountered with a problem want to fix it and fix it as fast as we can. Batters press and try to play hero ball. They swing for the fences vs. taking the pitch to the opposite field or even taking a walk. Batters fail 70% of the time normally. When batters press, they fail even more. THAT is why some were so pissed off last night to see Dusty Baker not be aggressive in slowing down the Phillies when he has possibly the deepest bullpen in MLB postseason history with THREE SP that he could have turned the game over to and changed what was not working.

What is the answer when you get down? You need an aggressive manager or SOMEONE to remind this team how GREAT they are. Remind them to work the walks, go the other way. Does ANYONE remember Verlander the cheerleader in 2017? WHERE was that moment last night? No the Astros manager was too busy munching on toothpicks.

Here is the reality as we wait for a must win Game 4 or Game 5. EVEN, with everything I said, the rest of this lineup CAN carry them. The pitching is so good they CAN put the Phillies in the deep freezer. So all in not lost. It is just harder than we wanted.

Go Astros! Level Up!

I am not sure I want to do a watch with Larry tonight. Reach out to me your thoughts on Twitter and Facebook.


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