• Don Collins

Been a While.....But Those Astros!!!

The defending world champs are at it again, leading the AL west by 4 games. There star studded lineup contains a good amount of talent, that can take them far again if the continue to stay focused. In order to stay above the Athletics, they need to continue to keep their earned run average down and their run production up. Let’s look at how they can continue to do that, or how other teams can slow them down.

Justin Verlander was an incredible addition when he came to the squad. He is now 3rd in AL earned run average (2.67) and 5th in AL wins (16). In order to have this much success, you need to have good command of your different pitches. With that being said, I wanted to see what kind of pitches he tends to throw. From the graph below, we see that he throws mainly 4 pitches, and occasionally 5. His most used pitch is the fastball, which is common, but his slider is used a lot as well. This is most likely his ending pitch, which he has solid command on and can trick the batters. He rarely uses his changeup, and occasionally used a curve ball. These pitches have a lot of movement, and he has perfected his movement.

I also wanted to see what types of pitches he throws in different counts. That fastball takes over again, which makes sense since he is most comfortable with it, so he throws it when he needs a strike. When he has two strikes on the batter, the pitch type changes more dramatically, and he throws more movement pitches. This makes sense but is different from the other pitchers I have looked at. He seems to be very deliberate with his pitch selection, which makes him even more dangerous.

Another piece of their success is Alex Bregman, who is 4th in AL runs batted in with 100. He is a right-handed batter, so I wanted to take a look at where he likes the ball when runners are in scoring position, and where he tends to hit the ball. He has a strong concentration on the inside of the plate, and they are tight inside too. This could be because the pitchers are trying to jam him inside, or his sets up wide off the plate and steps in to trick the pitchers into throwing inside. He does hit other places, but most of his hits with runners in scoring position are on the inside of the plate.

Since he likes the inside ball, you would think many of his hits are to the right side of the field, but that isn’t the case. He has a higher concentration on the left side of the field, more toward shallow left field, and even deep left field. This is crazy because he has enough power to take an inside pitch to the opposite side of the field. It is good to see that his balls are getting into the outfield, to allow time for the runners on to get home. As a field player, try to keep this in mind, so you can try to get to the ball ASAP to try to hold the runner.

Last but not least, one of the more well-known players, Jose Altuve, who is 4th in AL batting average with a 0.315 average. Altuve is a machine, as we will see in the following graphs. He hits everywhere and everything, not to mention his contribution on the field. We can see that there are only few places on the field where he hasn’t gotten a hit. He likes to hit to shallow outfield, which his swing is built for. But he can also go long as well as hit in the infield and beat out the throw to first. He is the entire package, and a threat at the plate for any team that faces him.

Since he hits all over the field, I wanted to see that types of pitches he tends to hit in each count, and again, the same story. He literally hits everything!!! This is the most in-depth pitch breakdown I have seen while doing this, and it really shows the depth of his skill. He doesn’t really have a pitch type preference, he goes for everything. He can read the movement and put bat to ball. There is little you can throw to him that he will miss.

From all these graphs, we can see that the Astros have a good squad going into October. Altuve is a machine, and hits everything everywhere. Bregman excels when there are runners on, which increases the run production, and Verlander is a boss on the mound, and has tremendous command of his pitches. They are a dangerous ball club, especially coming off the 2017 world series win. I just hope that other teams look at these graphs, to try to find small weaknesses that will help to take them down.

Work Cited

MLB Advanced Media, LP. Statcast Search. n.d.

ESPN. MLB Statistics - 2018. n.d.