added 5/27/2008 by Scott Barzilla
Managers and general managers obsess over balance in the lineup. They want a good balance of lefties and righties. They want a good balance of power hitters and speedsters. They love players that can do both. However, when you look at the Astros current team you can see balance in terms of patience and aggression at the plate. Moreover, it is extremely important to make this work to your advantage.
Plate discipline is something some fans and scouts don't appreciate. In point of fact, it is something very few hitters truly master. If you are too patient you wind up like Morgan Ensberg with a ton of walks, but even more strikeouts. Watching Ensberg in action was enough to drive fans to the free swingers. The trick is to find a balance in between those. A quick look at the regular lineup reveals that.
BB SO OBP Michael Bourn 16 46 .277 Kaz Matsui 21 21 .361 Lance Berkman 31 30 .471 Carlos Lee 13 25 .318 Miguel Tejada 8 25 .365 Hunter Pence 14 41 .342 Ty Wigginton 6 16 .348 J.R. Towles 11 25 .260
Obviously, Bourn and Towles need to do better, but the rest of the lineup has picked up the slack. Tejada and Lee might look bad, but they generally make a lot of contact. When baserunners are on, that is generally a good thing. Now that Hunter Pence has gotten hot it has helped tremendously. So, how has all of this extra running and better lineup construction helped the team?
Runs BR PCT 2008 253 640 .395 2007 723 2059 .351 2006 735 2065 .356 2005 693 1953 .355
The Astros have definitely been more efficient at getting runners home. Will this trend continue? It's hard to say, but if it seems like the Astros offense has been more efficient lately you haven't been imagining things. So, people will ask why this is happening. It could be the more aggressive base-running. It could be a stronger middle of lineup as well. Either way, it has been fun to watch.