September 19, 2012
What the Hell Has Gotten Into the Astros?
The Houston Astros topped at least one power-rankings list last week. The fact that it was my personal Power Rankings List that I keep in my journal is not germane; the once-lowly Disastros have gone 8-7 since the beginning of September. That’s better than .500 -- a winning record within these arbitrary endpoints! -- and the eight wins is as many games as Houston won in July and August combined (h/t @cantpredictball).
They also took three of four from the Phillies over this past weekend and all but ended that team’s Wild Card hopes. As this goes to press on Tuesday night, they open a three-game set against the Cardinals, and the Astros can play spoiler again against a St. Louis team that has lost seven of its last 10. If I were Mike Matheny, I’d be preparing for these games (and next week’s series in Houston) like each one was a one-game playoff. There’s nothing scarier than playing a team with nothing to lose, and the Astros are the nothing-to-losiest.
One of the crazier things in this “hot streak” has been the teams the Astros have beaten. Since our arbitrary September 1st start date, Houston has won series against the Phillies and the Reds, while losing series to the Cubs and Pirates. (They also lost an August/September series to the Reds, but that first game falls outside of my self-selected timeframe, so I get to ignore it.)
But the Astros are objectively terrible! I mean, they’ve lost 99 games, which is almost 100, and 100 is a round number that, when seen in the loss column, tells us that a team is really, really bad. So how can they be good? It’s probably just luck, but let’s look at the data anyway, because, frankly, what else do you have to do?
At 29 years old, Lopez is among the oldest players on the team and probably never has to carry his own bags. (I assume he just rests them on Jose Altuve’s head while they walk to their hotel rooms.) Lopez has put up decent numbers this year, including a 3.88 FRA and 0.6 WARP, and became the closer after Brett Myers was shipped to the White Sox in late July.