Thank God We Don’t Let Pitchers Hit

added 4/8/2013 by Bob Hulsey

There is not much to be thankful for after the first homestand as an American League team. After a stunning 8-2 win on Opening Night, the Astros found little to celebrate the rest of the week as they dropped five straight games to the Rangers and Athletics.

But we can all be thankful for one thing - thank God we no longer have to watch our pitchers flailing away helplessly at the plate, striking out most of the time as their batting averages plummet below .200. We no longer have to see pitchers embarrass themselves doing something they aren't skilled at doing. Yep. This new Designated Hitter thingy has really jacked up the offense now that we are in the Arena League.

What's that? We still have hitters striking out constantly with embarrassing batting averages? That can't be!

Or maybe it is. Through the first week of the season, eight of the 13 Houston hitters sport averages under .200 and three are already in double-digits for strikeouts after six games.

What in the name of Mike Hampton and Brandon Backe is going on around here? There are more fans at the plate than there are in the stands. At this pace, they will destroy the big league record for most whiffs in a season.

Welcome to Luhnowball, 2013.

Leading the Can't-Hit Parade are Brett Wallace (.059 average, .170 OPS, 13 Ks in 17 ABs), Chris Carter (.091 average, .312 OPS, 11 Ks in 22 ABs), Rick Ankiel (.083 average, .417 OPS, 10 Ks in 12 ABs) and the Designated Non-Hitter Carlos Pena (.158 average, .316 OPS, seven Ks in 19 ABs). Apparently, Pena is getting paid like Bud Norris to hit like Bud Norris (.135 average, .324 OPS in his big league career).

But those four aren't alone. All the hitters fanned at least twice during the homestand and the entire team is averaging 12.3 strikeouts per game. That's like facing an in-his-prime Nolan Ryan every night.

Only four Astros have an OPS above .600, a Mendoza Line for utility infielders (our utility infielder, Marwin Gonzalez, is one of the four above the line at .641, and gets a gold star for breaking up the Perfect Game bid of Yu Darvish in a do-or-die situation).

So how about the pitchers?

The starters weren't so bad the first time out and were the only ones keeping the games close, but they've stumbled a bit their second times out. The bullpen, meanwhile, has landed more pitchers on the disabled list (three as of Monday) than in the save column.

Meanwhile, Owner Jim Crane continues to sound tone deaf when he talks about buying a AAA team and bringing it to Houston while refusing to acknowledge that he already owns one. It's like rubbing salt in the wounds of fans who want to watch a major league-quality team in the nation's fourth-largest city. Of course, maybe he'll buy a AAA team and then staff them with AA players.

One has to wonder how long it will be before Bo Porter becomes Bo Postal the way this team is poised to struggle all year. A coach of fiery intensity, will he be able to stomach the type of season he is no doubt headed for? When Bo turn 41 in July, a thoughtful birthday gift would be a case of Maalox.

Will the Worst Team In Baseball (tm) become the Worst Team In Major League History WTIMLH? It's too early to say. The 1988 Baltimore Orioles started the year 1-22 yet still managed to salvage a 54-107 record. Of course, that club had future Hall-of-Famers Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken, Jr. in their lineup. Murray and Ripken might make better contact even now than most of the inmates at the Luhnow Bin.