Thursday, March 28, 2019


Our long time readers will remember that we've put together our own season projections every season since 2012 (except 2013, when the team briefly made me lose my will to live). It's that time again, and, if you remember last year I decided to give it a catchy name, complete with random capitalization changes, just like wRC, ZiPS, and other fun baseball acronyms. The Astros County annual projections are henceforth known as LEMoNGELLO, or Latest Extrapolated Mishmash of Numbers Guessing Everyone's Likely Latent Outcome. Rolls right off the tongue, right?

To recap prior seasons, in 2012 we projected 74 wins and the team actually won 55. In 2014 it was 72 and 70. 2015 was 81 and 86, 2016 was 93 and 84, and 2017 we had 94 against 101 actual. Last year, we projected 103 wins, and the team won 103 games. Not too shabby. We're not pretending to be rocket surgeons, but this is just a fun exercise to try to get a general idea of how the team might do.

The same general disclaimer still applies: Anytime we put together projections the goal isn't to be perfect. While we're looking for a likely outcome for each individual player, the goal is more to get an idea of the team as a whole. Some players will have career years, while others will get injured or collapse unexpectedly. If I could predict those things, I'd be in a front office somewhere. We're just trying to get a reasonable baseline of expectations for the team.

Last year, the offense didn't quite meet expectations. Correa's back issues were a big part of that, but Reddick, McCann, and Marwin also came up short, relatively speaking. That was mitigated to a certain extent by Bregman continuing to stake his claim as one of the new faces of MLB.

On the other side, the pitching staff was one of the best we've seen in recent history. Verlander found the fountain of youth, putting up arguably his best season ever. Gerrit Cole was more than even Jeff Luhnow probably hoped he would be. The bullpen was mostly trustworthy, which is really all you need following the rotation Houston put out there last season.

There are a couple questions coming into this year. The hopes that Correa would be back to full health were thrown into question late in Spring Training with his current neck issue. Only two of last year's five starting pitchers are returning, due to injury and free agency. Can McHugh return to the rotation without missing a beat after a year in the bullpen? Is Wade Miley the next Charlie Morton? Will the Peacock fly? Part of the reason I waited until the last minute to publish this year's LEMoNGELLO was because I kept hoping the team would add one more pitcher. I'm showing 350 innings that will be thrown by seven pitchers who have less than one year of major league experience. That's nearly a quarter of the total innings needed by a major league team in a season. 

So, how does this season shape up?

As usual, there is some rounding, so individual totals may not quite add up.

Some of you may be saying "Batguy, you have a run differential that's 60 runs worse than last season, how are they winning more games?" Believe it or not, the 2018 team under-performed their Pythagorean record by six games. 

There's still obviously a ton of talent on this team, and it continues to be a great time to be an Astros fan.