On Sunday, the Astros were forced to play a double-header at Yankee Stadium after a rain-out on Saturday afternoon. In the first game, they scored six runs by way of nine singles and five walks, recording no extra-base hits. In the second, they amounted 10 runs, on nine hits again, but with five extra-base hits, including four home runs. After ending the second game late, they traveled to Miami for their fifth road game in a row. And scored seven more runs, by way of home runs, base hits, and walks.
The Astros have the best record in the league at 27-12, and are being paced by a great offense along with good pitching. Most important to their offensive success, though, has been their incredible balance. Here is a table of how the Astros compare to the MLB average in some major offensive categories, along with their rank in parentheses:
|Houston Astros||3.98% (6)||8.50% (18)||18.4% (2)||.273 (2)||.340 (4)||119 (2)|
They are hitting for average and power, all while striking out at a very low rate. And it’s not like they are struggling to draw walks, either, as they are still a middle-of-the-pack team in that regard.
The past two seasons, the Astros have blinded us with home runs and strikeouts. Guys like Chris Carter, Luis Valbuena, and Evan Gattis made the ‘Stros a hit-or-miss lineup, but the Astros have completely transformed their offensive profile.
In a league that is striking out more every season, the Astros have dropped their strikeout rate immensely from their 2015 – 16 rate to their 2017 rate. With a 4.8% decrease, they have lowered their strikeouts more than anyone else. The next-best is the Rays at 3.7%. Behind the Nationals, who have increased their 2017 average .029 from 2017, the Astros are second, with a .025 positive increase. They have done this while continuing to hit home runs, sitting at sixth in home-run rate in 2017.
The Astros added balance to their lineup with their offseason additions of Josh Reddick, Carlos Beltran, Nori Aoki, and Brian McCann. And now, the Astros are looking like a top-three offense in baseball, and perhaps like the league’s most complete.