“One step at a time” has become the ongoing mantra of the Houston Astros. The question remains – how long do we have to wait? True, Houston’s farm teams – the Corpus Christi Hooks and the Oklahoma City Redhawks – are dominating their respective minor leagues, but the youthful domination has to grow up.
Houston shares the worst overall record in the majors with the Miami Marlins at 11-30. Pundits discuss the possibility of finishing with the poorest record in the history of MLB. Faces have to be red, heads must be hanging low, and puzzles have to be solved. Confusing statistics such as high runs-batted-in and trailblazing double-play numbers infer that the Astros shouldn’t be sitting as muted as they are. The reality is that playoffs are not scored by incidentals numbers; they are simply wins and losses.
The Astros have succumbed to a high percentage of losses by close games, and plenty of games have been thrown away after taking the lead. The relatively decent on-base-percentage of the club does not equate to the dismal record. The ultimate question, however, comes all the way back down to pitching. Houston has a fine record of discovering great pitchers, nurturing them, and trading or selling them away; such is the economy of MLB. Elevated ERAs, a terribly low average of innings-pitched by starts, extra-base hits conceded – I could ramble on and on about the scary, ugly numbers. Truth comes calling when visiting pitchers put on a display such as the Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander or the Texas Rangers’ Yu Darvish. They step onto the mound and illustrate just what a leader’s performance should look like.
Minute Maid Park’s steadfast few will patiently wait out the prospect of future success, be it minor league development or intelligent drafting, but the responsibility lies in the achievements of this enormously big-market club. Get better or get used to facing the music.
By Daniel Jamieson