Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Good Lord, this outfield is brutal

Outfielders are supposed to be your power guys, right? So how do we explain what's happening with the Astros outfield? Aside from Jordan Schafer, who isn't looking as impressive lately (hitting .219/.278/.315 with 24Ks in 79 plate appearances since April 21), the outfield has been a black hole, "hitting" a collective .221/.316/.315. That .631 is bad. How bad? Well, it's 15th out of 16 in the National League, and 29th out of 30 in All O'Baseball, with only the Cubs' outfield faring worse than the Astros' outfielders, with a .240/.307/.317 line (.624 OPS). The Indians (.641) and Nationals (.639 OPS) are right there with the Astros, as well. Except the Nationals are leading the NL in ERA at 2.80 and WHIP at 1.10, and are 2nd in the NL with a 2.97 K:BB ratio. I don't think anyone knows how Cleveland is doing what they're doing. Perhaps a deal with Satan is involved.

So what about the Astros? How do they fix it? I honestly don't know that they can. Brian Bogusevic is the Old Man in the Outfield, at 28. J.D. Martinez, who, despite getting two hits in his last 42 plate appearances, has the highest OPS of any Astro to see time in the outfield, at .688 (and, as I type this, he just got a single).

Justin Ruggiano has a .997 OPS in 35 games (126 PAs), but the 30-year old probably isn't in the Astros' long-term OF plans. However, Fernando Martinez - at 23 - is raking at Oklahoma City, hitting .326/.376/522, with 25K:1BB in 153 PAs (coming into the afternoon game today). He's 21st in the Pacific Coast League in OPS with 100+ PAs, and only Anthony Rizzo, Mike Trout and Adam Eaton are younger than Martinez on this list.

Consider that Martinez has a career .276/.337/.475 line in parts of four seasons at Triple-A, and the average hitter in the PCL is 26.6 years old. Over 2010-11, Martinez struck out in 23.3% of his plate appearances, which right now (prior to today's game) is sitting at 16.3%. Can that translate into Major League success? It hasn't so far for Martinez, albeit in 145 injury-riddled plate appearances.

Is he an option for the Astros? That would involve doing something with Bogusevic or J.D. Martinez. With J.D. Martinez' iffy knees, that would likely push Fernando Martinez to RF (even though he's spent most of his outfield time in LF), which would involve moving Bogusevic...somewhere. And there's also the issue of Justin Maxwell.

There's just not a clean answer here.

1 comment:

Terence said...

I think the answer is to make a decision and stick with it for more than a day. This casting lots to determine the batting order every morning has to stop. If the players are given no consistency from Mills, Mills will receive no consistency from them. Put your best players in the lineup and let em play. Don't platoon them. Don't ask them to bunt. Don't sit them in weeks where they've already had a day off. And for God's sake don't bat Maxwell and Downs 2 & 3!!