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Houston Astros series preview: Houston Trivia Edition

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Because the baseball of the present offers little solace, we’ll look at the city instead

Division Series - Houston Astros v Kansas City Royals - Game Five
Happier times
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Since the games on the field have pretty much become academic at this point to the Royals, we’re going to take this preview a different direction. As I’ve lived in Houston a total of about 15 years of my life, I thought I’d share with you some things you may or may not know about Space City, the Bayou City, H-Town, or whatever you choose to call it (some less polite than others).

* Yes, I know this series is at Kauffman. But this week I’m covering for OMD and he’ll be back for next weekend’s series in Houston.

A Little About Houston

First off, it’s officially the 4th largest city in the USA but, really, the 5th largest. If you’re using city population and not MSA population, you’re doing it wrong. When you talk to out of state folks about Kansas City, are you referring to KCMO proper? Or are you including OP, Lee’s Summit, Liberty, etc? It’s almost always the latter so use MSA not city population.

In short, Houston is big by any measure: behind only NYC, LA, and Chicago in both metrics and the DFW metro in MSA. Our mass transit is pretty bad. We have a very small light rail system that is barely over a decade old and only has 22 miles of track. Everything else is a concrete jungle with awful traffic. Houston is also the largest city in the US without zoning regulations. At the end of the day when my wife interviewed for her job here, she remarked “it’s so ugly” (and that’s from someone who A) is from rural Iowa and B) doesn’t care that much about aesthetics). Yeah, we’re a lot of concrete and swamp.

Speaking of swamp, there’s the matter of our climate. I’m going to let Grant Brisbee take this one (the backpack thing is not a myth; I still do this):

There’s no reason this city should exist. It’s hot and sticky. It’s where the kids invented the trend of wearing backpacks with one strap, because wearing them the way they’re intended will make the backpack squish-meld into your skin through your shirt. It’s hot and sticky, and calamity will occasionally shoot from a fire hose out of the Gulf of Mexico. Why is this place here?

We get about 50 inches of rain a year... unless it’s like last year where I personally saw 38~42 inches of rain in about 5 days and some fared even worse. Thanks for nothing, Harvey!

It’s also hot. By the time you’re reading this, we’ll have hit our 23rd straight 90 degree day and 35th overall this year. We’re only halfway through June. We get about 100 of these days a year. So, yeah, basically a third of our year is in the 90s. We rarely get over 100, though. Summer is very consistent: we’re either in a “cooler” pattern of the low 90s with scattered monsoon storms in the afternoon or in the upper 90s and no rain. Either way, we’re humid. Ask anyone who has been here. In fact, just throw out the word “Houston” in conversation and it’s one of the first things that will come up.

Actually, my favorite creepy weather fact is about lows. After our last one in May, we just don’t get cold fronts until sometime in September so there will be 3 straight months where it’s never below 70. Not for a single minute of the “coldest” day for 3 months. 11:23pm on June 2nd? 70s. 5:32am on September 9th after raining all night? Still 70s. If you go outside at 3 am any day during the summer months, you’re going to be sweating within seconds. Not only is it in the 70s, but 100% humidity.

But you know what we don’t have? Winter! We had snow last year and the city practically closed down. There were all sorts of goofy pictures of us building snowmen that might have been a foot tall. We get an ice day or two most years, same thing: city closed. The city is built on overpasses that become the equivalent of an icy bumper cars rink (over 400 accidents in a recent ice storm). The months from October through April can be pleasant. There’s going to be a lot of rainy 50 or 60 degree days in “winter” and many of those days are going to be in the 80s. But it sure as heck beats scraping ice off the car.

We also have lots of mosquitoes. I mean, our AccuWeather literally has a Mosquito Activity report. We also have awful air pollution. Along with the miserable traffic, we’re a city that was built because of oil (and the availability of air conditioning). I feel that one truly hasn’t seen all that Houston has to offer until you’ve driven over the Ship Channel Bridge: in a lot of ways, it looks like a post-apocalyptic industrial hellscape.

I have no way to verify these claims from 1995 (but also no reason to doubt them). On Michael Moore’s short lived show TV Nation, they filmed people from many cities across the country bragging about being #1 in dubious categories. Houston was #1 in convenience stores and sending people to death row. Houston also ranks highly among strip club aficionados and the scene is popular with some of our city’s professional athletes.

But it’s not all bad. Obviously Houston is most known for NASA and the Johnson Space Center is worth a visit. I will always steer visitors towards one of my favorites, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, which boasts one of the top dinosaur collections in the country (ahead of LA, Chicago’s Field Museum, and The Smithsonian). We have Galveston beach nearby, even if it’s a big news story when the water is actually blue (no joke, seriously). Finally, if you’re here in February or March, go to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. It is the largest in the world, drawing more than 2 million visitors annually.

Last but not least, the city is extremely diverse. Many people are surprised to know that Houston is the largest city to have had an openly gay mayor. The diversity also plays into an excellent local food scene. However, if you’re looking for BBQ, you’ve probably come to the wrong part of Texas. You’re better off in Austin or Lockhart. The best BBQ I’ve had in Houston is actually from the suburb of Pearland (though Killen’s is legit and I’ll stack it up against much of the KC que I’ve had).

Series History

If we must talk baseball, let’s do a little walk down memory lane with selected moments in Astros-Royals recent history:

First they were rebuilding while the Royals were peaking. Guess who is starting a long, arduous rebuild? Guess who has the best run differential in baseball and one of the best records, coming off winning a World Series?

Pitching

How’s the starting pitching? ”Astros’ rotation making case as best ever” Eep.

Actually, looking at the matchups, this could be worse:

  • Fri: Morton vs Junis
  • Sat: Keuchel vs Duffy
  • Sun: McCullers vs Keller

ASTROS

Team Pitching
Rk Pos Name Age W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
3 SP Dallas Keuchel* 30 3 8 .273 4.45 14 14 0 1 0 0 85.0 90 44 42 12 22 0 66 1 0 7 365 85 4.18 1.318 9.5 1.3 2.3 7.0 3.00
4 SP Lance McCullers 24 8 3 .727 3.83 14 14 0 0 0 0 82.1 66 37 35 8 32 0 81 3 0 6 336 99 3.66 1.190 7.2 0.9 3.5 8.9 2.53
5 SP Charlie Morton 34 7 1 .875 2.82 13 13 0 0 0 0 76.2 57 26 24 11 29 0 96 8 0 0 318 134 3.90 1.122 6.7 1.3 3.4 11.3 3.31
Team Totals 30.2 45 25 .643 2.94 70 70 67 3 2 17 630.0 486 217 206 68 176 2 719 26 0 25 2524 129 3.17 1.051 6.9 1.0 2.5 10.3 4.09
Rank in 15 AL teams 2 12 1 2 1 5 2 2 1 1 2 2 1
Rk Pos Name Age W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/15/2018.

ROYALS

Team Pitching
Rk Pos Name Age W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2 SP Jakob Junis 25 5 6 .455 4.05 13 13 0 0 0 0 80.0 76 36 36 15 19 1 76 5 0 4 337 103 4.52 1.188 8.6 1.7 2.1 8.6 4.00
3 SP Danny Duffy* 29 3 6 .333 5.28 14 14 0 0 0 0 76.2 81 46 45 16 37 1 64 1 0 5 343 79 5.62 1.539 9.5 1.9 4.3 7.5 1.73
7 RP Brad Keller 22 1 2 .333 2.31 24 3 2 0 0 0 35.0 30 9 9 1 13 1 23 1 0 3 144 182 3.34 1.229 7.7 0.3 3.3 5.9 1.77
Team Totals 28.7 22 46 .324 5.27 68 68 68 0 0 16 606.0 662 374 355 99 217 12 491 24 1 24 2664 80 4.78 1.450 9.8 1.5 3.2 7.3 2.26
Rank in 15 AL teams 14 2 15 10 6 9 11 13 15 15 15 8 14
Rk Pos Name Age W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/15/2018.

Hitting

What about the hitting? I heard the team got off to a slow start.

Per The Crawfish Boxes: “The Astros have exploded to near the top of the leader board in hitting with a 114 WRC+, second in MLB behind only the Yankees, and 6 points higher than last week.”

Talented and on a roll. Excellent!

ASTROS

Team Batting
Rk Pos Name Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB
1 C Brian McCann* 34 40 143 125 16 27 3 0 5 16 0 0 13 25 .216 .308 .360 .668 91 45 2 4 0 1 0
2 1B Yuli Gurriel 34 54 233 222 28 67 17 0 2 28 2 1 7 25 .302 .322 .405 .727 107 90 11 1 0 3 0
3 2B Jose Altuve 28 70 310 284 43 96 17 2 5 35 10 2 22 42 .338 .388 .465 .853 144 132 8 2 1 1 1
4 SS Carlos Correa 23 63 272 232 41 63 14 1 11 43 2 0 33 68 .272 .360 .483 .843 139 112 9 2 0 5 2
5 3B Alex Bregman 24 67 301 256 38 67 20 1 8 33 6 3 41 38 .262 .372 .441 .813 132 113 10 4 0 0 0
6 LF Marwin Gonzalez# 29 62 239 211 21 52 9 3 5 31 2 1 22 61 .246 .318 .389 .706 101 82 3 1 3 2 0
7 CF Jake Marisnick 27 50 127 122 15 20 4 0 5 14 2 1 4 59 .164 .190 .320 .510 42 39 1 0 0 0 0
8 RF George Springer 28 67 305 270 52 79 16 0 14 41 4 3 29 56 .293 .367 .507 .875 147 137 5 4 0 2 0
9 DH Evan Gattis 31 59 213 192 26 47 9 0 13 42 1 0 15 48 .245 .305 .495 .800 124 95 6 3 0 3 0
Rk Pos Name Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB
10 RF Josh Reddick* 31 49 182 158 31 37 6 0 6 19 1 1 23 35 .234 .330 .386 .716 105 61 2 0 0 1 0
11 C Max Stassi 27 39 130 117 18 30 9 0 6 18 0 0 10 39 .256 .331 .487 .818 130 57 3 3 0 0 0
12 OF Tony Kemp* 26 24 86 73 9 22 6 0 1 10 3 1 9 8 .301 .381 .425 .806 131 31 4 1 2 1 0
Team Totals 28.2 70 2691 2397 359 632 133 9 86 345 35 13 241 565 .264 .335 .434 .769 118 1041 66 25 6 21 3
Rank in 15 AL teams 3 1 2 4 8 6 7 9 3 8 1 1 4 3 2 11 2
Non-Pitcher Totals 28.2 70 2682 2388 359 630 133 9 86 345 35 13 241 558 .264 .335 .435 .770 119 1039 66 25 6 21 3
Pitcher Totals 26.1 70 9 9 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 .222 .222 .222 .444 28 2 0 0 0 0 0
Rk Pos Name Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/15/2018.

ROYALS

Team Batting
Rk Pos Name Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB
1 C Salvador Perez 28 48 203 187 23 43 8 0 11 32 1 1 9 32 .230 .281 .449 .730 97 84 10 5 0 2 0
2 1B Lucas Duda* (10-day dl) 32 37 145 133 12 34 7 0 4 19 0 0 9 31 .256 .317 .398 .716 97 53 3 3 0 0 0
3 2B Whit Merrifield 29 65 291 255 31 75 21 0 4 22 14 4 27 47 .294 .369 .424 .792 119 108 6 5 1 3 1
4 SS Alcides Escobar 31 68 263 241 29 52 9 2 3 17 3 1 13 31 .216 .264 .307 .571 58 74 8 4 2 3 1
5 3B Mike Moustakas* 29 67 288 263 33 68 16 1 13 42 1 0 20 40 .259 .313 .475 .788 114 125 8 2 0 3 3
6 LF Alex Gordon* 34 52 205 189 16 49 5 0 5 15 3 0 12 42 .259 .317 .365 .682 88 69 4 4 0 0 1
7 CF Abraham Almonte# 29 36 117 108 12 21 1 1 3 8 2 1 8 26 .194 .250 .306 .556 53 33 4 0 1 0 0
8 RF Jorge Soler 26 60 254 220 27 59 18 0 9 28 3 1 28 67 .268 .358 .473 .831 127 104 6 4 0 2 0
9 DH Cheslor Cuthbert (10-day dl) 25 30 117 103 11 20 2 0 3 7 0 1 11 23 .194 .282 .301 .583 62 31 5 2 0 1 0
Rk Pos Name Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB
11 2B Ryan Goins* 30 34 103 98 9 22 6 1 0 6 0 0 4 26 .224 .255 .306 .561 55 30 2 0 1 0 0
12 1B Hunter Dozier 26 27 100 92 8 22 5 0 2 5 0 0 8 27 .239 .300 .359 .659 81 33 2 0 0 0 0
13 C Drew Butera 34 29 96 85 5 13 4 0 1 10 0 0 9 21 .153 .240 .235 .475 33 20 2 1 0 1 0
14 UT Paulo Orlando 32 18 66 63 3 10 2 0 0 5 0 0 3 17 .159 .197 .190 .387 8 12 2 0 0 0 0
15 IF Ramon Torres# 25 9 29 28 4 5 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 3 .179 .207 .214 .421 17 6 1 0 0 0 0
Team Totals 29.8 68 2574 2333 253 572 116 7 59 237 30 11 182 479 .245 .307 .377 .684 88 879 67 33 9 17 6
Rank in 15 AL teams 9 14 8 9 13 14 11 4 14 1 9 13 14 14 14 4 5
Non-Pitcher Totals 29.8 68 2568 2327 253 571 116 7 59 237 30 11 182 476 .245 .307 .377 .684 88 878 67 33 9 17 6
Pitcher Totals 25.2 68 6 6 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .167 .167 .167 .333 -7 1 0 0 0 0 0
Rk Pos Name Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/15/2018.

At Least...

...we’ll always have this.

Poll

How will the Royals fare againt the Astros this weekend?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Royals sweep 3-0. Royals won in 2015 and will win now!
    (7 votes)
  • 4%
    Royals take 2 of 3. It’s a gentlemen’s sweep.
    (4 votes)
  • 26%
    Astros take 2 of 3. The Astros are better but it’s baseball so Royals win 1.
    (25 votes)
  • 62%
    Astros sweep 3-0. Royals suck. Astros gooder. Is it 2023 yet?
    (59 votes)
95 votes total Vote Now