Thursday, May 16, 2019

7-8-9 in context


Any Astros fan over the age of 25 remembers Everett-Ausmus-(Pitcher) in the Astros' lineup. [Stares out window] Those were the days, huh?

Back in 2004, the bottom third of the Astros' lineup produced a .242/.305/.341 slash line, which was a significant dropoff from the top two-thirds of the lineup in which each spot posted an OPS over .800. 7-9 combined to hit 23 home runs all season.

Obviously the Astros' game has changed since 2004 - both with analytics from a smart front office, and with the switch to the AL and the designated hitter. But still. Let's look at recent history to see how the bottom third of the 2019 Astros' lineup stacks up:

Production, 7-9 in the order, 2019:

Season
Slash Line
OPS
K:BB ratio
2019
.272/.348/.471
.819
2.34
2018
.230/.301/.388
.689
2.92
2017
.271/.329/.481
.810
2.52

Whereas the 2004 Astros got 23 home runs from the bottom-third of the lineup, the 2019 Astros have already gotten 19 home runs from their 7-9 hitters. Again, the game has changed. Still, last night after Marisnick went 2x3 with a single, triple, and 2RBI, he had this to say:
It's a testament to how good this lineup is. I mean, it's a dangerous lineup. It's long. We make pitchers work all the way through.

One of the hallmarks of the 2017 Astros team was their depth. 44 games into the season, the 2019 Astros team is deeper - and better offensively - than the 2017 World Series Champion team. This is of course a credit to both Robinson Chirinos and Jake Marisnick: Chirinos’ 155 wRC+ is far and away the best of his career, his previous high was 124 wRC+ back in 2017, and he’s posted 1.4 of his career 4.8 fWAR in 33 games this season. Chirinos is absolutely an upgrade over Martin Maldonado, who’s hitting .191/.288/.255 in 34 games for Kansas City.

Marisnick’s hot start is nothing new – he swung the bat well early in 2017, posting a .917 OPS in April before finishing the year with a .239/.310/.488 line. Marisnick is just hitting the ball harder this year – his 34.8% Hard-Hit rate is the highest of his career. The strikeouts are still there for Marisnick, at 30.1% of his PAs, but that’s still his lowest K-rate since 2016.

So how does this stack up to the rest of the league? Again, the bottom third of the order, 2019:

“Team”
Slash Line
OPS
K:BB ratio
Houston
.272/.348/.471
.819
2.34
American League
.230/.302/.383
.685
2.93
MLB
.232/.306/.381
.687
2.80

Well I certainly didn’t expect the American League, with the DH, to have worse bottom-of-the-order production relative to the rest of MLB.

Coming into the games of Thursday, May 16 there are only six AL teams at or above .500. How do those six teams stack up, depth-wise?

Team
Slash Line
OPS
K:BB ratio
Minnesota
.275/.354/.509
.864
2.38
Houston
.272/.348/.471
.819
2.34
New York
.270/.344/.452
.796
2.60
Tampa Bay
.232/.303/.363
.666
3.55
Cleveland
.209/.290/.333
.623
3.14
Boston
.201/.289/.315
.604
2.48

Again, did not expect to start this as a “look how deep the Astros’ lineup is” piece and halfway through writing it have to stop and tip my cap to the Twins. But here we are.

Since expansion (1962), these are the teams with the highest sOPS+ from 7-9 in the lineup:

Team
Slash Line
sOPS+
K:BB Ratio
2019 Twins
.275/.354/.509
149
2.38
1965 Reds
.275/.349/.437
148
1.59
1963 Twins
.280/.346/.431
142
1.54
1964 Red Sox
.275/.349/.435
141
1.50
2003 Red Sox
.281/.353/.490
141
1.97
2016 Cardinals
.273/.346/.479
139
2.26
1977 White Sox
.278/.356/.446
137
0.98
2019 Astros
.272/.348/.471
137
2.34

To put it another way, the Astros have the 6th-highest sOPS+ from the bottom of their order in the last 57 years of the American League.

Overall, the Astros’ lineup is incredibly deep. They have a 134 wRC+ top-to-bottom (the Twins sit at 117 wRC+). The previous record for a season since integration (1947) was 122 wRC+ set by… the 2017 Astros. Or we can go back to 1900 and see this:

Team
wRC+
2019 Astros
134
1927 Yankees
126
1930 Yankees
124
1931 Yankees
124
2017 Astros
122

Those are the top five wRC+ in baseball since 1900, and the 2019 Astros are smoking Murderers’ Row. Yes, the 1927 Yankees had their Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Earle Combs in the same way that the 2019 Astros have their Alex Bregman, George Springer, and Carlos Correa. But the ’27 Yankees needed Joe Dugan and Pat Collins like the Astros need Chirinos and Marisnick.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Any theories on why Marisnick starts hot most years it seems like, and then fades towards the end?