Friday, April 26, 2013

Astros Stats

The beginning of the Astros season has been at time as bad as expected, and at times pleasantly surprising. Of course, we would all like to forget the beat down at the hands of the A's, but the 4-2 start against the Mariners has been fantastic, most notably because of the weeping and gnashing of the teeth it has caused among the Mariner's fanbase. Other than those teams, the Astros have gone 1-2 in every other series. Not world beaters, but if the Astros continue to take a game in most series, while winning the occasional series as well, it will end the "worst team ever" meme pretty quickly.

In this week of Astros stats, lets look at the whole team, and see how this 7-15 record came to be.

- In the "pleasantly surprising" category, the Astros offense has been league average in nearly every way (except, of course, for k-rate). In runs scored, they rank 6th in the AL, 13th overall. In wOBA, the Astros rank 8th in the AL and 12th overall and in wRC+ they are 6th and 10th. The team's on base percentage is rather low, only coming in at 18th, but the added power in the offseason has helped to support the improved offense, ranking 9th in slugging, and  tied for 6th in HR.  Unfortunately, these numbers are buoyed by the second highest BABIP in the league, which indicates a regression is potentially coming. Still, the Astros have already scored nearly 16% of the runs from last year's league worst 583.

- On the other side of the coin, the pitching, across the board, has been much worse than expected. Or at least, worse than I expected. I'm not going to run through the list, cause I don't really have to. Think of a pitching stat, either standard or advanced, and the Astros rank at the bottom, and usually by a lot. Their league worst ERA of 5.31 is supported by a league worst FIP of 5.25, a league worst xFIP of 4.83 and SIERA of 4.80. And that, my friends, is how a league average offense goes 7-15.

- I want to highlight one prospect down on the farm who might be improving on his one major flaw. Marc Krauss has always had power, and has always struck out a ton. At almost every stop over his minor league career, Krauss has posted a ISO over .200 (per Fangraphs, a .200 ISO is considered "great") and a K rate over 20%. This season, however, Krauss has only struck out 10 times in 75 PA, for a 13% k-rate. K-rate is one of the first stats to stabilize, requiring only 100 PA to begin to offer predictive power.* If Krauss really has improved his k-rate to the extent shown in the early going, he could become a very useful part in the Astros future.

*(Not that you can take k-rate at face value after a certain number of at bats, but the regression necessary is much lower earlier than for a stat such as BABIP or ISO. A good explanation for stat stabilization can be found here).