Every Wednesday, the Rambling takes a youthful turn…
Let’s focus on some hot Astros rookies...
Two weeks ago, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman was stumbling to a .143/.213/.196 line. You were told in this column at that time that he had simply been unlucky; that good times were coming. Here is his line since then: .316/.355/.614 with five doubles and four homers in 13 games. This guy is going nuts on Major League pitching and it’s 100% for real. Enjoy it if you have him; beg for him if you don’t.
His teammate AJ Reed (1B) has also made a bit of a resurrection, though far less spectacularly. Grooving an exciting .133/.243/.233 line through his first 70 PA, Reed has put up a respectable .263/.364/.421 over his last 44. The horror of his initial volley can be somewhat attributed to bad luck as well, and that second set has been a bit of a correction of his earlier woes. Over those last 44 PA, he has also chipped in a homer and three 2Bs.
However, the truly exciting part of his resurrection is the fact that three of his other key numbers - Hard-Hit Rate, SwStr Rate and Contact Rate - have all dramatically improved. Those first 70 PA had the Hard-Hit Rate at 27.8% -- unimpressive for a slugger like Reed. He also had a SwStr Rate of 15.4% (very high) and a paltry Contact Rate of 67.2%. So, he wasn’t just unlucky - he was truly struggling. But those last 44 PA have those numbers at 40.7%, 8.1% and 79.7%, respectively. Those aren’t incremental improvements - he’s like a completely different hitter. Those waiting patiently for Reed to come around may have to wait no longer: if he can keep up his current numbers - and that’s still an “if” - this is going to be a great finish in 2016, both for Reed and the Astros offense.
Outfielder Teoscar Hernandez (given that first name, I assume, so that all internet searches will exclusively return Teoscar Hernandez info), has made a nice splash since being brought up. Less heralded than his two teammates above, but still somewhat heralded, Teoscar has made the transition to the bigs with ease. Amazingly consistent, Te (as I will now call him) has hit 17, 17, and now 13 homers in each of his last 3 years. He has also stolen 33, 33, and now 34 bases in that time. Interestingly, he has no steals yet in his 40 MLB plate appearances. This is sure to change at some point. Te also has 3 homers already, though his 27.3% HR/FB Rate is sure to go down. We can reasonably assume that he will annually hit homers in the 15-17 range, with room for growth (due to his current 37% Hard-Hit Rate). And amazingly, he has a .257/.350/.543 line despite a .250 BABIP, so he actually can get better, if you can imagine. The SLG is probably at its peak, but his terrific 12.5% BB-Rate says that with better BABIP luck, the AVG and OBP will go up. Pretty impressive start, and the Astros have to be excited.
All stats through Tuesday, August 23rd.
You can contact Geoff on Twitter @gigglebowl