Here we look at what the San Francisco Giants can learn from the Houston Astros and their run through the playoffs and a World Series championship.
It certainly was a magical run for the Astros to their first ever World Series championship. And it started a long time ago, with a few changes along the way.
The Astros were considered to be a very analytical team, but in the end it was the same thing that has always won baseball — pitching, defense and timely hitting.
A few years ago the Astros thought they were ready to compete. They brought in a bunch of big power hitters and had some decent arms in the rotation.
In 2014 they were fourth in baseball in home runs, but had the second most strikeouts. As a result they finished that season 70-92. On a side note, that netted them Alex Bregman in the 2015 MLB Draft.
They built too much of an all-or-nothing lineup, and it was a disaster.
The following season they finished second in home runs and second in strikeouts, but did make the playoffs. However, their hitters were exposed against good pitching in the postseason.
In 2016 they dropped all the way to 14th in home runs, and were still striking out a ton. Still, they managed to win 84 games that year but missed the playoffs.
Finally in 2017 they figured it out and put it all together. They finished the regular season with the second most home runs in all of baseball, while having the least number of strikeouts.
That almost seems impossible in this age of the three true outcomes (home run, strikeout or walk).
A lot of people think that having a bunch of home run hitters in your lineup means you are destined to have a ton of strikeouts.
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The Astros only had one player hit more than 24 home runs. They were spread out evenly throughout the entire team. Eleven players hit double-digit home runs, with seven of them hitting 18 or more home runs.
And they had just two players who struck out more than 100 times, with one of those being the one player who had 34 home runs.
The key is not just building a lineup with one guy capable of hitting 30-plus home runs and striking out 100-plus times. You have to build a lineup that from top-to-bottom is capable of hitting double-digit home runs, while putting together good at-bats.
You saw in the postseason how anyone in that lineup was capable of going deep. Eight different players hit a home run for the Astros in the playoffs. And four of them hit four or more home runs.
Yes the Giants need more power in their lineup, but that doesn’t mean they have to become an all-or-nothing offense. That Astros gave us a perfect framework for how we need to build our team for the future.