ATTENDANCE MATTERS

How Astros historic benchmarks are in some ways being overshadowed

Astros Martin Maldonado, Dusty Baker, Yainer Diaz
It's time for some Astros number crunching. Composite Getty Image.

Let’s crunch some Astros numbers.

With five home games left in the regular season – and the American League West pennant still up for grabs – it’s practically guaranteed that the Astros will top 3 million attendance this season for only the fifth time in their history.

But unless the fire marshal looks the other way, the Astros will fall just short of breaking their all-time attendance mark of 3,087,872 fans set in 2004.

The other years that the Astros topped 3 million fans were 2007 (3,020,045), 2006 (3,022,763), and 2000 (3,056,139). The Astros moved into Minute Maid Park, capacity 41,000 fans, in 2000.

The Astros played their first three years as the Colt .45’s in steamy, mosquito-plagued, open-air Colt Stadium from 1962-65. The first MLB team in Texas wasn’t exactly an instant success. While Colt Stadium held 33,000 fans, the team drew an average crowd of only 11,274 its debut season. Attendance dipped below 10,000 per game the next two seasons before the Colt .45’s became the Astros and moved into the world’s first multipurpose domed stadium.

Despite the Astrodome holding 52,000 fans for baseball, the Astros never drew 3 million fans to the Dome for indoor baseball.

Proving that size doesn’t matter (thank goodness), the MLB team with the current largest-capacity stadium is the Oakland A’s. Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum holds 56,782 fans. The MLB team with the smallest attendance this year … the Oakland A’s, averaging only 10,509 fans.

Crunch on: beating the dead horse that Yanier Diaz should be the Astros everyday catcher instead of Martin Maldonado.

Maldonado is batting .191. Diaz is batting .321 when he gets to play catcher. While objects may be closer than they appear and your mileage may vary, if Diaz had been behind the plate during games that Maldonado played, he would have swatted 46 more base hits than Maldonado managed.

With the American League West bunched up for first place, I’m sure Dusty Baker would trade his stubbornness for 46 additional hits (instead of outs) this season. Every inch counts in a pennant race and Diaz is a miles better hitter than Maldonado.

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Will all the Texans playmakers be satisfied with their roles in the offense? Composite Getty Image.

ESPN Texans reporter DJ Bien-Aime joined The Mina Kimes Show this weekand shared his thoughts on the Texans outlook this season.

When looking at the Texans offense, Bien-Aime pointed to Houston's play calling as being a possible issue in 2024. Bobby Slowik did a terrific job in his first season as an offensive coordinator. But he will have his hands full keeping all his playmakers happy with Stefon Diggs joining the team, and Nico Collins expecting a ton of looks after signing a massive contract extension.

Which got us thinking, are there enough catches to go around?

We took a deep dive into the 2023 numbers and here's what we found. CJ Stroud averaged 21 completions per game. And here's a breakdown of how many catches his receivers averaged last year.

Nico Collins 5.3 catches per game

Stefon Diggs (with Buffalo) 6.29 catches per game

Dalton Schultz 3.93 catches per game

Tank Dell 4.27 catches per game

Texans running backs 3.05 catches per game

If we add those up, the total is 22.84. Which means the Texans top receivers should expect a similar amount of production compared to last season. Of course, players like Noah Brown, Robert Woods, and Brevin Jordan will take targets away from Stefon Diggs and company from time to time.

But it's good to know that the Texans top pass catchers should produce numbers close to their 2023 averages. Which is a big deal for a player in a contract year like Diggs.

Another thing to note. We're factoring in that the Texans are expected to run out of 11 personnel most of the time. Which means Diggs, Collins, Dell, Schultz, and Mixon will be the only pass catchers on the field the majority of the time.

Are there concerns about the defense?

Both Kimes and Bien-Aime designated Houston's secondary as the big x-factor this year. Bien-Aime named cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. as the only player in the secondary that he truly trusts. Is he right?

Be sure to watch the video above as we react to Kimes and Bien-Aime's outlook for the Texans this year, and share our thoughts on the possible pitfalls the team will have to navigate in the short and long-term.

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