There’s been a lot of discussion about the “decline” in the Astros’ offensive production in 2018. This discussion ignores the fact that Houston currently has the third best offense in MLB by wRC+ and that last season’s offense was historically good.
Through 2483 plate appearances, Houston has earned collectively hit .258/.329/.421 with a wRC+ of 109. Now those numbers look bad in comparison to the first half of 2017 — where the Astros hit .289/.355/.500 with a wRC+ 130 — but the Astro’s offense is still one of the best offenses in baseball as the wRC+ of 109 is the third highest this season. A lot of their offensive success has been driven by a high line drive rate that has constantly been finding holes in opposing defenses; which is confirmed by an above average BABIP of .307.
As for scoring runs, the Astros’ offense is not struggling in 2018 as they’re averaging 4.94 runs per game…that’s the fifth highest run scoring offense in baseball — in 2017 they led the league by averaging 5.41 runs per game.
The only peripheral that could be cause for concern with Houston’s offense is 2018 is that its batters are striking out in 21.7% of their plate appearances — in ’17, they struck out in 17.3% of their trips to the plate. Houston’s strikeout problems this season are because they’re making contact on less pitches inside the strike zone than they did last season; especially since they’re swinging at a similar number of pitches outside of the zone. There really isn’t a lot for Houston fans to complain about in their team’s offensive performance…after all it’s not the primary reason their currently trailing the division leading Mariners by one game.
Even compared to last season, Houston’s offense is still chugging along rather nicely. Position players have been worth 11.5 wins so far (fifth best in MLB) and they’re still scoring a bunch of runs a game. But it’s still going to look like this offense is struggling compared to where it was last season.
“Dating back to 1903, the year of the first World Series, only three teams have posted a higher wRC+ than these Astros. All of them were Yankees teams in the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig era, in 1927, 1930 and 1931.” – True Blue LA
It’s almost impossible for a team to put together the type of offense Houston put together last season — the only three offense’s to record a higher wRC+ since 1903 involved two of the best hitters in the history of baseball. So can we please stop this idea that Houston’s offense is struggling or “declining” this season because it can’t match its historically great production from 2017?