The Colt 45s Astros lineup

Last night I labeled the Astros’ lineup a “AAA lineup”. That might be a stretch, but it’s not much more than an expansion lineup. The Astros had one ex-superstar on his last legs (Biggio), a couple of decent young regulars with no star potential (Ensberg and Lane), a couple of young defensive specialists (Taveras and Everett), an old defensive specialist (Ausmus, who really was an expansion player once), and two utility players playing out of position (Lamb and Vizcaino).

Honestly, Biggio, Ensberg, and Lane are the only regular-quality Major Leaguers in the lineup last night, though Taveras might make it someday. It’s very likely that he’s the only player from the bunch that’s going to be around the next time the Astros are competitive.

The team’s marginally impressive offensive stats are solely due to their ballpark. As a team, the Astros have hit .286/.358/.445 at home and .215/.285/.339 on the road. (There’s a reason they’re 1-11 on the road; really, they “should” be 3-9 or something like that.) Some of the splits are remarkably ugly. Biggio has a .701 OPS on the road but a 1.031 at home. Taveras’ are even more dramatic:

HOME: .368 .439 .491
ROAD: .150 .190 .200

Ensberg is the only player hitting better on the road than at home, and it’s close; Lane is the only other regular with an OPS above .721 on the road. Basically, on the road they’re a team of Raul Mondesis. They’re the Rockies plus Roger Clemens. Interestingly, other than the Rockies there are two other teams with splits nearly as dramatic; the second-place Diamondbacks… and the first-place Braves.

Lance Berkman is supposed to play tonight, which gives them one good hitter.

18 thoughts on “The Colt 45s Astros lineup”

  1. I don’t know if it’s fair to say Jason Lane has “no star potential”. He has done nothing but hit since he has been in the league, and hit well in the minors if I recall correctly. Give him 500 ABs and he might surprise you. He’s not walking as much as he should this year, but he’s hitting OK in a small sample size and he’s not a defensive liability.
    I’d love to have him on our team.

  2. Hey, he’s a lot better than the guys we have on the outfield corners. But he’s also a 28 year old corner outfielder. If he hasn’t reached his peak yet, he’s close to it. Which is a solid player who could help 25 other teams but isn’t going to make the big money.

  3. A 28 year old corner outfielder with about a 120 OPS+ and a career slugging percentage over .500 over almost 300 at bats. Bottom line, he gets on base at about an average level and has significant power.

    He’s 4 months older than Andruw Jones and their numbers are very similar, with a slight edge to Lane over an admittedly small sample size. Would you say Andruw Jones has “no star potential”? I wouldn’t.

  4. That comparison is so completely out of left field that I don’t know how to respond. Comparing two 28 year olds with similar rate stats, but one who has done it over 5000 plate appearances and one over 300? Great googlie mooglie Batman, I think we have a sample size problem. Obviously John Paciorek ( is far, far greater than Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, or Ted Williams could ever hope to be. Lifetime batting average of 1.000 baby! Per 162 games, he drove in 486 runs and scored the same.

  5. “Left field” is pretty key there as well. You have a gold glove centerfielder versus an ordinary corner outfielder. Big difference there.

  6. What do you mean by “big money?” He’ll probably make more money than all of us put together.

  7. Speaking of small sample sizes, Mac, do you think the Braves will send Langerhans back down so he can get more at batsand bring someone else up for a small sample size?

    One more question. Would you take Gary Sheffield for Andruw Jones, straight up? I think George is apt to do anything if they don’t get out of the cellar quickly. We might be able to get Tony Womack and Sheffield for Andruw.

    Who has a BA/OPB/SLG of .236/.320/.382? How about .208/.394/.347. Combined, these 2 players are making almost $21,500,000/year and one of them is a corner outfielder.

  8. I wouldn’t do that even if the Yankees didn’t throw in Womack. I wouldn’t take Womack if you paid me. Sheffield is still a fine hitter, but he’s ten years older than Andruw, has no defensive value, and is a pain in the ass. Womack is a terrible player, an overpaid, bad glove, old version of Pete Orr.

    Langerhans is out of options, and someone (the Devil Rays? The Astros?) would surely claim him if the Braves DFAd him.

  9. I’m not saying Jason Lane is as good as Andruw Jones. Present day, Andruw’s defense is better and at a more useful position. Careerwise, there is no comparison because Lane only has about 280 ABs in the majors. I also included a caveat about sample size in my earlier comment.

    The following is true, however:

    1. So far, in limited appearances, roughly half a season, Jason Lane has hit at a level slightly better than Andruw Jones has over almost a decade.

    2. They are the same age.

    3. One does not have to be as good as Andruw to have “star potential”, and just because you’re too old to turn into a Hall of Famer doesn’t mean you can’t be a star for a few years.

    4. Offensively, a guy who puts up an 850 OPS and plays decent defense is a guy with star potential.

    If Lane keeps up his current level of production, which his minor league numbers suggest is likely, you have Eric Byrnes with more power. If he takes a half step forward (for instance, 10-20 more walks per season), you have Trot Nixon or Shawn Green. These guys are stars, and at their peaks, were elite level players.

    Jason Lane has star potential.

  10. Moises Alou would be a good comp for Lane too. I’d call him a star, back in the day.

  11. 4. Offensively, a guy who puts up an 850 OPS and plays decent defense is a guy with star potential.

    Last year, Jason Lane was roughly equivalent to Charles Thomas, Ray Lankford, and So Taguchi. “star potential”? The guy is 28, plays corner outfield, and hits decently but he’s nothing special. A guy that you’re better off in the lineup than without, yes, but not someone who’ll make big money or be one of the top 10 players at his position.

  12. I can simply say that Matt Davis and I have a very different definition of “star.” Mine is much more restrictive than is his. No one is right or wrong when discussing free floating definitions, but I really don’t think of Trot Nixon as even remotely approaching “star” let alone “elite level.” To me, he is an oft injured player with brief flashes of high level performance, but has never shown anything like the consistency that I demand before declaring a player to be a star.

    Anyway, points 1 and 2 above are undoubtedly true, 3 and 4 are definitional differences. I’d like to have Lane, but I still agree with how Mac has labeled him.

    And as an aside, I place a LOT of blame for Lane’s (and Ensberg’s) slow development on our former coach Jimy Williams. He farted around with them, putting them in and out of the lineup and up and down to the minors, never giving them the protracted opportunity to perform that most non-Albert Pujols youngsters need.

  13. Simple test: Can you imagine Lane making an All-Star team in any role other than Token Astro? (Or token some other team once he’s traded.)

    By the time Moises Alou was 28, he had three major league seasons under his belt and was coming off of a year of .339 .397 .592 ball. And that was playing his home games in Montreal, which was a neutral park at the time, not the Juice Box. Lane’s more Al Martin than he is Moises Alou. That’s not such a bad thing (as long as you’re sane and a monogamist) but it’s not a star.

  14. Alou had a lot of years at 100-120 OPS+, with 3 or 4 great seasons around 150 OPS+ (such as the season you refer to).

    My point is not that Lane is a star now, but that he has the “potential” to have a couple of those great .290/.390/.570 OPS years, and thus be a “star” at least to me.

    By the way, Bamadan: Trot Nixon 2002-2005 vs. RHP: .299/.385/.561. That’s not a star? I guess we do disagree.

  15. So he’s a star 2/3 of the time? Hell, Andruw’s only 1/6 of the way away from superstardom, I guess.

    Alou has had six seasons of an OPS+ 128 or better. Let Lane do it once before you start talking Cooperstown, huh?

  16. By the way, Bamadan: Trot Nixon 2002-2005 vs. RHP: .299/.385/.561. That’s not a star? I guess we do disagree.

    That “vs. RHP” kinda kills the argument as far as I’m concerned. But it goes even farther for me. In those three seasons before this one, he has played in 152, 134, and 48 games. This year, he has played A platoon player who can’t stay healthy, to me, can not be a star.

    Roughly speaking, to me, a “star” is one of the 3-4 best players at a position in MLB and top 10-15 best pitchers. Lane, to me, while having the potential to be a solid contributor, has no chance of becoming a star.

  17. Godzilla Matsui and Jason Juice Giambi are the two in question with the respective Mondesi – like numbers but getting paid 8 and 13 times more money to do it.

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