Overreactions to things both good and bad are part of the fun of being a fan, but don’t lend themselves to the most insightful of discourse. There was some excessive fanboy and fangirl gloating over how the “Astros were back!” after they swept their last homestand. The Astros did a fine job of handling the business at hand but taking three from the not good Cubs and three from the almost inconceivably awful A’s did not mean the Astros were back in juggernaut mode. But then they hammered Brewers’ ace starter Corbin Burnes Monday night. Eight straight wins! Sweep the Brewers then this weekend the Astros could take aim at the franchise record 12 game winning streak! The Astros haven’t scored since Monday night.
Overall the Astros are fine entering the weekend at 28-21. Thank goodness for a pitching staff which has the best earned run average in Major League Baseball, because the Astro offense remains impotent too often. There are only five American League teams scoring fewer runs per game than the Astros (White Sox, Royals, Tigers, Athletics, Guardians). They are the five worst teams in the American League. The Astros’ back-to-back shutout losses Tuesday and Wednesday in Milwaukee coupled with a pair of Texas Rangers’ wins in Pittsburgh have the Astros back to three games off the lead in the AL West.
This while Martin Maldonado is actually having a strong May offensively, batting .298 with an OPS of .845. No misprint there. Alas, it’s not as if as he approaches his 37th birthday Maldy has figured out things and projects as a strong offensive player going forward. Bad hitters have good stretches just as good hitters have bad stretches. But credit is due where credit is due.
So, when will Alex Bregman be due some credit? He certainly has earned very little so far this season. Overall, Maldonado’s numbers are still weak with the batting average .216, OPS .637. Forget Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker, Maldonado’s OPS is now closer to Bregman’s than Bregman’s is to Jake Meyers’s. Bregman has a history of slow starts. Monday is Memorial Day. We’re past slow start. “Breggy Bomb” carries a different connotation right now. The good news is that with just over two-thirds of the season remaining there is still ample time to take off. Last season as late as June 16 Bregman’s OPS was under .700. The rest of the season he posted a .902. Bregman has a very discerning eye at the plate. He draws lots of walks and strikes out very infrequently by 2023 MLB standards. The walks have been his saving grace this year.
Even with Bregman’s batting average at a puny .219, his on-base percentage is .326. That OBP is only three points lower than Mauricio Dubon’s despite Dubon’s average being 78 points higher. Still, Bregman may be too discerning at the plate. It could be more perception than reality but Bregman seems to be complaining incorrectly about strike calls against him pretty frequently this year. He has played in every game yet is on pace for a meager total of 43 extra base hits. In 2019 Bregman hit 41 home runs among his 80 extra base hits. In 2018 he had 51 doubles among 83 extra base hits.
Then there’s Jose Abreu who continues to show zero signs of getting it going. Zero. Like his home run total. From Jeff Bagwell as he subbed for Geoff Blum on the Astros’ telecasts from Milwaukee: “Abreu cares.” Gee, that’s comforting. How pathetic would Abreu’s numbers be if he didn’t care?
Jeremy Pena is three for his last 24. He last drew a walk May 12 and had only drawn one before that this month. He last homered April 29. Pena’s sophomore campaign is disappointing to date. At the start of the season any notion that Mauricio Dubon would be having the Astros’ best season among their infielders heading into Memorial Day Weekend would have justified a drug test. Yet here we are.
Bring on the A's!
For the second consecutive weekend the Astros have the opportunity to whip up on the A’s. Oakland woke up Thursday morning with 10 wins and 41 losses. The A's have won consecutive games once. If you and several thousand of your good friends can catch flights to Oakland, tickets are available. Announced attendance for the A’s last home game, 4159. And that was the biggest “crowd” of a three game series following gates of 2064 and 3261.
The Astros come home for three vs. the Minnesota Twins starting with a holiday matinee Monday. Hope you didn’t buy tickets to watch Carlos Correa play. Correa has left foot problems, a muscle strain and plantar fasciitis. That is not the leg that caused Correa to flunk Giants and Mets physicals and forced him to “settle” for six years and 200 million dollars with Minnesota. Correa has not been good this season, batting .213 with a .699 OPS.
Listen to Stone Cold 'Stros every week
Stone Cold ‘Stros is the weekly Astro-centric podcast I am part of alongside Brandon Strange and Josh Jordan. On our regular schedule it goes up Monday afternoon on the SportsMapHouston YouTube channel, with full audio available in podcast form at outlets galore. Such as: