Thursday, February 14, 2013

The K-Stros?

One thing the Astros recent acquisitions have had in common is a tremendous ability to strike out. Depending on who wins the positions battles this spring, there is a legitimate chance that the Astros could field a team with 7 of the 9 starters who had a strike out rate greater than 20% last year (Castro, Wallace, Greene, Carter, Maxwell, Ankiel, Pena). There is a strong chance that the everyday starting lineup could have 4 players with a strikeout rate greater than 30%.(Carter, Maxwell, Ankiel, Pena).

We could be looking at a historic strikeout team. Only 12 teams in history have struck out greater than 1300 times. The all time record was set by the Diamondbacks in 2010 with 1529. No other team has exceeded 1400. The American League record was set by the Athletics last year with 1387. Using Baseball Prospectus's depth chart, combined with 2012 strikeout rates, the Astros project to strikeout 1556 times. That is a very rough projection, but I think its fair to say that the Astros will at least join the 1300 strikeout club, and potentially threaten the AL and possibly the ML record.

But what does that mean? The list of high strikeout teams includes some truly abysmal offenses, including the 2012 Astros, who were dead last in the majors in runs scored. However, it includes a number of league average or better offenses as well. I don't think you can say that if the Astros increase their strikeouts from a year ago, they will necessarily decline offensively. Carter might strikeout at a higher rate than anyone and still be the best offensive player on the roster. However, its worth paying attention to as the spring develops, to see whether an effort is made to minimize the effects of these high strikeout additions in the final roster construction.