Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Morning Hot Links

The Astros were off yesterday hopefully showing an acceptable level of regret for their performance in the Minnesota Frozen Tundra. Check Jexas' recap of the Twins series. Meanwhile the 11-3 Angels have a 1.5-game lead on the Astros. How the hell are they doing this?

1. The Angels haven't played anybody.

-They won three of four from Oakland to open the season (same way the Astros won three of four from West Terrell).
-They won two of three from Cleveland at home. One was on a walk-off. To be fair, the Astros needed a walk-off to win the series against San Diego, but Cleveland is expected to be a good team that has started slow.
-Then they got Oakland again, and took two of three while somehow outscoring them 22-17, so I'll do the math for you and say that's a +5 run differential.
-And then they swept the West Shreveport Rangers on the road.
-Now they get the Royals. And, of course, they dominated them last night 7-1.

It's not a stretch to say that eleven of their 14 games have been against teams that aren't really trying this year. It's not a stretch to say that ten of the 13 games the Astros have played are against teams that aren't really trying. That's a negligible difference.

2. The Angels offense has been better than the Astros' offense.

The Angels have scored 6.64 runs per game. Boston is 2nd in the AL with 5.75 runs/game. The Angels' offense has scored almost a full run per game better than the 2nd-most prolific offense of the young season. That's stupid. Their .828 OPS is the highest in the League by 71 points. Their OPS+ is 18 points higher than 2nd in the AL. That's all - say it with me - UN-SUS-TAIN-A-BLE.

The Astros, meanwhile, at 117, have the 3rd-highest OPS+ in the AL. Their .389 SLG is 9th in the AL. Oakland has a higher OPS+. So do the White Sox. So does Toronto. I doubt that holds up. And if it does? Then whatever. Got that RANG.

3. Might be worth mentioning the Astros' pitching staff vs the Angels' pitching staff:

Angels ERA: 3.22. Angels FIP: 4.18
Astros ERA: 2.57. Astros FIP: 2.82

I'll take a rotation of:

Verlander / Cole / Morton / McCullers / Keuchel over Tyler Skaggs / Garrett Richards / Shohei Ohtani / Jaime Barria and the other two dudes who are on the DL. Yeah, that's four starters. Former Astros Great Nick Tropeano returned from Tommy John last night and threw 6.2 scoreless IP. Again, it's the Royals.

Astros pitching has "allowed" a BABIP of .306 - 4th-highest in baseball. The Angels' pitching staff has allowed a BABIP of .249 - 3rd-lowest in baseball. One of those is going to regress to the mean, and it's not the Houston one. I'll let you guess which one it is.

Look, I really like to watch Ohtani. He's a good player who is good for baseball, and to pair him with Mike Trout? It's exciting. Looking forward to April 23-25.

*Not in the Rangers' lineup today because of DL stints: Elvis Andrus, Rougned Odor, Delino DeShields. Gerry Fraley has the five-point game-plan for the Rangers to stay with the Astros this weekend.

*Today is the first day of the season that players not on the 40-Man Roster can be added without becoming a Super Two player (KYLE TUCKER cough).

*Chandler Rome would like to remind you that the offense took a little while to warm up last year, too.

*As expected, the Astros optioned J.D. Davis to Fresno to make room for Yuli Gurriel.

Links You Should Pay To Read

*Jake Kaplan: Examining the impact of Gurriel's return.

*Jake Kaplan: How Max Stassi delved deep into the data and saved his career. Stassi, on data:
They're facts. To look at it that way, to know that you can improve in certain areas that are (based on) actual facts rather than somebody's opinion, is what I really enjoy. I gives me clarity to try and improve on my game.

*Jim Ralph Bowden: A Q&A with Jeff Luhnow. Devastated to hear that Luhnow's favorite band is The Cure. This is now a Phillies blog.

*Jayson Stark: Alex Bregman's pop-off against the Padres was the shortest walk-off hit since they've been keeping track of things like that. NOTE: You have to wade through a whole lot of Shohei Fellaciohtani to read that nugget.

Back To Free Links

*Richard Justice says Ken Giles is the Astros' X-Factor.

*The Hooks are debuting the Dallas Keuchel Smoke Stack 60 Food Challenge. Eat this 6-pound burger with sourdough bread, prime rib, brisket, sausage, onion rings, mac & cheese, cole slaw, pickles, and bacon in 60 minutes or less and you get $60. If you don't, you're out $14.50.

*The Astros' valuation, according to Forbes, ranks 11th in baseball at $1.65 billion.

*Here's a story about the Cubs' Eddie Butler, who was traded last Spring Training from Colorado for a guy who has since retired and has a temper that is endearing.

*"Every day is the craziest:" What it's like to be on the Shohei Ohtani beat.

*The cast of The Sandlot reunited for its (gulp) 25th anniversary.

*Millenials are forgetting about the Holocaust, which probably says more about their history teachers than Millenials.