In Zach Levine's post on how walks aren't exactly happening, he has this quote from Brad Mills:
“We’re getting there. Plus a little bit of credit to them as well. But the good quality at-bats is something we want to continue to get. We’re hoping that it does breed into better on-base percentage and more walks, and I think it has to.”
I'm guessing "them" means, "the Phillies." And he's right. There's no shame in losing to Halladay, Lee, and Oswalt. But quality ABs?
In the three games against the Phillies, the Astros had 27 plate appearances lasting one or two pitches. They were swinging on ten first-pitch PAs, going 2x8, getting an HBP and a sac fly in the two unaccounted-for PAs.
They started out 0-1 in 53 of 101 PAs, and were ahead of the pitcher (as Baseball-Reference defines it) in just 33 of those 101 PAs.
They worked a three-ball count in 15 PAs over three games, for a 5.0/gm average. The Reds, who begin a series with the Astros tonight (and are 3-0), worked 27 three-ball counts - just for example. Atlanta leads the NL in three-ball counts with an average of 9.25 three-ball counts per game. Only the Brewers have fewer three-ball counts, with 13 in four games.
This isn't good news for the Astros, as the team that delivered those 13 three-ball counts - fewest in the NL - is the Reds.
Are we talking about a ridiculously small sample size between two teams with wildly different opposition? Sure, but patience hasn't been a virtue for the Astros over the course of the past couple of seasons, and three pitching coaches. So are the Astros getting those quality ABs? If we're quantifying in terms of pitch counts, then no.