Thursday, April 4, 2019

Four Stats That Won't Hold Up

The Houston Astros are 2-5, the worst seven-game record to start a season since 2013's 1-6 start. While the 2013 Astros were almost literally hopeless - they didn't win their 10th game until May 8, the 2019 Astros simply had a bad week. In a season that lasts 26 weeks, it happens from time to time. I can't believe I'm actually doing this, but here are four statistical reasons to chill out:

53 Hits / 15 Runs

Across MLB, the 30 teams are averaging 1.82 hits/run scored. The Astros are averaging 3.53 hits/run scored. A complete list of teams with fewer hits and more runs than the 2019 Astros is as follows:

Pittsburgh (29H/17R), Kansas City (40H/26R), Atlanta (41H/25R), Chicago White Sox (41H/26R), Arlington (44H/34R), New York Yankees (44H/20R), Minnesota (44H/24R), Toronto (45H/23R), Philadelphia (45H/39R), San Francisco (46H/17R), Colorado (46H/17R), Baltimore (47H/25R), Tampa Bay (48H/22R), St. Louis (48H/30R), San Diego (52H/23R), Milwaukee (52H/28R).

That's 16 teams that have fewer hits and more runs than the Astros. Houston's 2.14 runs/game is 29th in MLB - only Detroit's 1.71 runs/game is lower, and those idiots are 4-3. Not sustainable.

The Astros are hitting .095 w/RISP

This does not happen. The Astros currently sport an .095 average with runners in scoring position, collecting four hits in 42 opportunities. The Padres had the worst batting average w/RISP in baseball in 2018, at .230. Here's the worst Avg w/RISP across MLB in each season since 2010. Why 2010? Because that's when I stopped wanting to look these up:

2018: .230 - Padres
2017: .227 - Rays
2016: .226 - Mets
2015: .218 - Reds
2014: .220 - Padres
2013: .218 - Cubs
2012: .232 - Cubs/Braves
2011: .219 - Giants
2010: .226 - Mariners

Notice that the lowest Avg w/RISP has increased since 2015. Literally no team can sustain such a poor average in these opportunities over the course of a season. It. Has. Been. A. Week.

Jose Altuve is hitting .222

Jose Altuve had 200+ hits four seasons in a row (winning three batting titles), from 2014-2017, and was well on his way to a 5th 200+ hit season in 2018 before being limited to 137 games because he broke his kneecap. PAs per hit, Altuve, from 2014-2018:

2014: 3.14
2015: 3.45
2016: 3.32
2017: 3.25
2018: 3.54
2019: 4.83

From 2014-2018, Jose Altuve leads all of baseball in total hits with 1014, 85 more than 2nd-place Charlie Blackmon (shout out to Charlie Blackmon - I had no idea he raked liked that). But that 2019 number - six hits in 29 plate appearances - just isn't Jose Altuve, especially after having surgery in October and playing all Spring. He is a career .340 BABIP hitter suffering through a .238 BABIP week. I refuse to believe that Altuve is suddenly Billy Hamilton.

Justin Verlander has a 4.84 FIP

Verlander's 4.09 ERA is the result of one bad start against the Rangers, coming one start after dominating the playoff-hopeful Rays on Opening Day. Verlander is currently sporting a 4.09 ERA to go with a 4.84 FIP and a 3.34 xFIP (what is expected). Verlander has never in his 13-year career posted a FIP higher than his xFIP. This 4.84 FIP would be the highest FIP of his career, even in his two-start debut in 2005. Not sustainable.