This is the second installation of our series of deep dives on depth charts around the league. I use the term ‘deep dive’ very loosely as I examine specific questions for each team because that will allow me to do as little research as possible. Thanks for reading, make sure to click on the ads or at least view them a handful of times 🙂
QUESTION: WILL THE ASTROS LEAD THE LEAGUE IN DINGERS?
You can’t look at this depth chart and act like this isn’t a possibility. There isn’t a guy who is going to hit 40 bombs but almost every player in the lineup has significant pop. You can make a case that Josh Reddick, George Springer, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yulieski Guerriel, Evan Gattis, and Brian McCann will all hit over 20 home runs this season.
They’ve also removed that god-awful Tal’s Hill and reduced the distance to the center field wall by almost 30 feet. Not only should that help George Springer not hurt himself while trying to play a new position, but it should also add a dinger or two to each guy’s total home runs for the year.
QUESTION: CAN DALLAS KEUCHEL PRETEND TO BE AN ACE ONCE AGAIN?
Sorry, Houston, but Dallas Keuchel is not an ace. Which means the Astros don’t currently have an ace on their staff, which means Dallas will have to pretend to be an ace again if they’re going to have a deep playoff run. During his Cy Young winning 2015 season, Keuchel ran into some extreme luck with opponents having a BABIP of an ungodly low .269, which means he gave up like three bloop hits throughout the year. He also had a career-high K/BB ration of 4.24.
However, it’s not as if he can’t return to top-of-the-rotation form. Last season Keuchel relied more heavily on his slider, possibly because his fastball velo was down a tick from about 89-90 to 88-89 MPH. His fastball/changeup combo led to success in 2015, but given he threw 230 innings its possible that fatigue played a part in his reduced velocity. It’s reasonable to expect his fastball to be back to form this season after only throwing 168 innings in 2016.
But he’s still not an ace.
QUESTION: HOW MUCH EVAN GATTIS WILL WE SEE?
I hope the answer to this question is “as much as possible” because we need more men with giant beards swinging a tree trunk without batting gloves. It likely depends on how the season goes. After signing Carlos Beltran to DH and Brian McCann to catch, the depth chart is getting crowded from Gattis’s point of view. He’ll get his AB’s against right-handed starters, but after that I’m not sure how AJ Hinch is going to spread the wealth.
QUESTION: IS THE DECISION TO OPEN-SOURCE THE NAMING OF THEIR MINOR LEAGUE AFFILIATE THE COOLEST THING EVER?
The Houston Astros, which owns the Single A club, wants to begin crafting a new name, logo and uniforms the team will use beginning in 2019.
“We want to brand this new team to Fayetteville,” David Lane, the general manager of the minor league team, said Monday. “We want it to be the hometown team and represent Fayetteville, not the Astros.”
Residents and baseball fans can suggest a name at a website the Astros and Minor League Baseball released Monday afternoon: http://www.fayettevilleastros.com.
I sort of want to move to Fayetteville temporarily so I can participate in this and perhaps launch a very specific career as a minor-league baseball branding executive.
QUESTION: HOW MANY WINS/WHAT’S THE BEST POP-CULTURE REFERENCE?
I ask these questions in every deep dive because it’s the easiest way to end these posts. Plus if I nail a win projection I can ride it to fame and glory. As far as pop-culture, the Astros aren’t a big hit in movies so I’ll have to fall back on Paul Wall throwing out the first pitch in 2007:
To his credit, Paul was way ahead of the MLB in terms of speeding up the game. There’s no hesitation on his part to getting on the mound and firing a pitch right away. I also respect the jorts game, tough to pull off (though maybe not in Houston). Supremely disappointed that he didn’t have a grill in, though his breakout song with Nelly wouldn’t come out for another two years. I’ll give a pass to the Ice Man Paul Wall, for his mouth not looking something like a disco ball.
I’ll go with 94 for the win total. Because things.