Astros ailing against lefties
April 27, 2005
By Mike Merlet
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ASTROS ARE OUT IN “LEFTFIELD” WHEN FACING SOUTHPAWS
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One early season trend that we have noticed is that the Houston Astros flat out stink vs. left handed pitchers. They are by far the worst in the Major Leagues vs. southpaws. Their team batting average vs. lefties is just .195.
On the road vs. left handers their team average drops even further to .151. On the road, they are averaging just 1.13 runs per nine innings vs. LHP. Away from home Houston is 0-5 vs. LH starters with a -$575 loss based on $100 per game.
The next worst overall team batting average vs. lefties in the Majors is 15 points higher than Houston (Arizona at .210). This isn’t a small sampling either. Thus far this season, the Astro hitters have had 194 at bats vs. left handers picking up just 38 hits. They’ve scored only 14 runs during those at bats vs. southpaws.
Houston has faced seven left handed starting pitchers this season and in four of those contests, their overall team batting average for that particular game has been .161 or less. Their most recent two games vs. left handed starters the Astros have been shut out both times (1-0 vs. St. Louis and 2-0 vs. Pittsburgh).
Plus, with the exception of Mark Mulder for St. Louis, we’re not talking about world beating starters here. Their loss to the Pirates on Tuesday night was against Oliver Perez who has struggled all season long. Going into that game, Perez had given up 19 earned runs in just 19 innings pitched. He completely shut down Houston giving up just 4 hits in 7.2 innings holding them scoreless.
Before that it was Kaz Ishii (4.82 ERA) of the Mets and Eric Milton (6.75 ERA) of Cincinnati putting the kibosh to the Astro offense. The strange part of this whole situation is, Houston is not a left handed dominated line up.
They have only 3 position players that hit from the left side of the plate (Mike Lamb, Luke Scott and Orlando Palmeiro). Plus, only two of their top eleven hitters when it comes to at bats this season, are left handed (Scott and Lamb). Thus they are a predominantly right handed hitting team.
Their top players are right handed including Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Morgan Ensberg, Jason Lane, Adam Everett and Willy Taveras. Thus, one would assume that they would be fine against southpaws. That has not been the case so far this year. That could change, but as of right now, they really struggle in that regard.
Thus, when handicapping Houston, we will keep an eye on potentially going against them when facing a left hander (especially on the road). You may even get a good underdog situation if Houston has either Oswalt or Clemens on the mound.
With Clemens on the mound this season, Houston has lost both of their games vs. opposing LH starters. With Oswalt on the mound, the Astros are 0-1 vs. lefties. A look at UNDERS in these situations might also be the way to go.