Pitching wins championships, but the Astros need a more consistent offense to reach the playoffs.
As a Houston Astros blogger, you get to hear many fans opinions through interactions through social media. This is what is good about most of the bloggers out there. They are passionate about the team they cover. Fans are seeking more than what the beat writers write which leads them to us. Sometimes I feel like a particular producer on a local drive home radio show who agrees with everything the hosts says.
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However, I am getting frustrated with how many people are saying the Astros don’t need offense. Instead of going after Edwin Encarnacion or trading for Miguel Cabrera, we need to add pitching. I agree but to a certain extent. The pitching depth was challenged in 2016 to injuries to Lance McCullers and Dallas Keuchel. Brad Peacock was getting critical starts down the stretch. We need a starting pitcher and a power reliever.
The 2016 versions of the Astros were not ‘Crush City.’ While we had arguably the best hitter in the game in Jose Altuve, the offense was very streaky. George Springer, despite scoring 100+ runs, is misplaced in the batting order leading off. Carlos Correa had some growing pains but still finished with 20 homers and 96 RBIs. Alex Bregman, Evan Gattis, and Yulieski Gurriel emerged in 2016 to deepen the lineup, but you can never have too much offense.
Let’s take a look at where the Astros as a team finished in the AL in each category via ESPN.
Batting Average: .247 (13th of 15)
Runs: 724 (8th of 15)
Hits: 1367 (12th of 15)
Homers: 198 (9th of 15)
Total Bases: 2310 (10th of 15)
OPS: 0.735 (9th of 15)
Strikeouts: 1482 (2nd of 15)
With Colby Rasmus and Carlos Gomez‘s departure, there are a few jobs open this offseason. The Astros did go out and bring in Nori Aoki, but he is not the everyday answer. We are not sure what to expect from A.J. Reed, but first base has been a black hole for several years. I still have faith in Reed and I know he is seeking help this offseason.
Jason Castro, most likely, is not returning. We will need a catcher to team up with Gattis at catcher. We need at least one outfielder, a proven first baseman, and a starting catcher. The Cubs were able to load up via trade before the 2016 season, which led them to the World Series win. Put Encarnacion or Cabrera in the lineup batting third, could he do what Kris Bryant did with the Cubs?
Yes, this would push Altuve back to leading off with Springer dropping down to the fifth spot. Let’s do a hypothetical batting order with perspective additions.
While this would be a tall task for Luhnow to pull off, look at how deep this team would be. I know pitching wins championships, but having a more consistent offense couldn’t hurt. As my Talking Stros co-host, Brandon said, I’ll believe it when I see it.