Halfway Heroes

added 7/8/2001 by Raymond Desadier
It’s July. It’s hot. Let’s look at who has been hot and who has not since April 3rd.


It would probably be sufficient to just simply write, “Lance Berkman and Moises Alou” under this heading but it just wouldn’t be fair since it does take 9 guys to play a game. Therefore, you can read about them everywhere else while I turn the spotlight to the rest of the team.

Craig Biggio leads the team in AB’s (332) and HBP’s (19) and if he does half as good in the second half, he will undoubtedly win the Comeback Player of the Year award.

Daryle Ward has an 8% double play percentage, which ties for third best on the team.

Richard Hidalgo leads the club in sacrifice flies (8) and ranks third in game winning RBI’s (6).

Charlie Hayes has not committed an error in 19 total chances.

Jeff Bagwell leads the club in walks (56), ranks second in home run ratio (15.57 AB) and third in RBI percentage (11.3%).

Julio Lugo leads the club in steals (8) and is second in sacrifice flies and bunts (5 of each).

Chris Truby is tied with Lance Berkman with the lead in double play percentage (4%), and only 4 have a better HR ratio (17.14 AB) or RBI percentage (9.8%).

Jose Vizcaino has the second lowest strikeout percentage (.118 ).

Vinny Castilla has the fourth highest batting average among starters (.291).

Brad Ausmus is 3 for 4 in stolen base attempts, second to only Bagwell.

Roy Oswalt has the lowest starting ERA (2.39) as well as the lowest relief ERA (1.93). He also has a .500 BA and an RBI.

Shane Reynolds averages 6 2/3 IP per start for second on the team. He is the only pitcher with a home run making it his third consecutive season to hit one.

Wade Miller has the lowest first inning ERA (1.00), longest distance average (6.72), leads all pitchers with 5 hits and leads the team with 9 sacrifice bunts.

Tim Redding is third on the staff in strikeouts per 9 IP (9.87).

Scott Elarton has contributed 3 runs offensively.

Billy Wagner has stranded all 5 runners that he has inherited, retires the first batter 79% of the time (team best for 4 outings or more) and hasn’t allowed an earned run in 76% of his outings.

Nelson Cruz leads the team with 37 appearances and is second best at retiring the first batter he faces (76%).

Octavio Dotel has the second lowest relief ERA (2.08), third best overall ERA (3.22) and his start on April 6 ties for the second best start with Wade Miller’s June 25 start (7 scoreless IP). Who had the best (8 scoreless innings)? Hint – It’s Dotel’s buddy who is currently pitching for Detroit.

Mike Jackson is second on the staff with 4 saves and 36 appearances.

Dave Mlicki has retired the first batter in all 4 of his outings as an Astro.

Ron Villone has stranded all of 3 of his inherited runners since becoming an Astro.

Orlando Merced & Tony Eusebio – mentioned below.


Areas with room for improvement.

Striking out as much or more often than you get a hit is not a desired feat, but Charlie Hayes and Chris Truby have accomplished just that: Hayes - 16 whiffs to 10 hits, Truby – 33 to 16.

Have less home runs than Mike Hampton in more AB’s: Orlando Merced, Tony Eusebio, Jose Vizcaino, and Brad Ausmus. But then again, no one on the team has a better ratio (7.83 AB’s per HR).

Octavio Dotel’s only weakness has been his inherited runner percentage (30%) which is even lower than Jay Powell’s.

Tim Redding, Shane Reynolds, and Scott Elarton have very poor ERA’s in the first inning (15.00, 6.00 and 5.00). Reynolds and Elarton’s first inning earned runs account for nearly a run of their respective ERAs, and for Redding nearly 3 runs.


Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle gave the usual report card for the team in the July 1 edition of Sports 2. For the most part he did a fine job, but I have to disagree with a few of the grades given:

Richard Hidalgo and Jeff Bagwell: C and B+ respectively.
Neither had an A performance by any means, but I think the spread between these two is a little steep. Their batting averages, home run ratios and RBI percentages are all very close and neither has kept an edge over the other in these categories. Yes Bagwell has been slightly better but considering he is making 3 million dollars more than Hidalgo who happens to have two more game winning RBI’s than Bags (6 vs. 4) you would have to give them the same grade. Taking their abilities into consideration, a B+ is a little high, but they haven’t been horrible so a C is being harsh.
Rainman’s grade: B for both

Orlando Merced: C+
I can see no reasoning as to why you could give him anything below a B. Here is a guy who wasn’t even supposed to make the team and has been the team’s best pinch hitter (7 hits, 2 HR, 6 RBI in 27 AB). Furthermore, Daryle Ward made a B- and Merced has a higher RBI pct (12.3 vs. 10.1) and has the same number of game winning RBI’s (2) in nearly 100 less AB’s! I’m sorry, Orlando Merced has been quite a contributor with his bat and has also been superb defensively.
Rainman’s grade: B

Tony Eusebio: B-
Compared to Brad Ausmus, he deserves an A++. However, when grading on the same scale as everyone else, Subie was slighted a bit by Joe D. Let’s look at Jose Vizcaino’s rating: .276 BA, 2.7 RBI pct, 1 HR in 116 AB’s, and 0 Game winning RBI’s got him a B. Tough Tony had a .282 BA, 8.5 RBI percentage, 4 HR’s in 207 AB, one of which was a game winner, against the first place Chicago Cubs no less. True, they are two different kind of hitters, Vizcaino a slap hitting plate setter and Eusebio an RBI hitter, but shouldn’t Vizcaino have the higher BA? Tony has done quite well and I am going to give him his due by removing the minus.
Rainman’s grade: B

Overall, you can’t help but be at least moderately excited about what this club will do in the second half.


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