Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 5/15/12
Power wins. And absence of consistent power makes winning virtually impossible. In the days of the Astrodome, the Astros were built around pitching, speed and solid defense. While those elements still matter, the game has changed. The long ball is now an essential part of a good team and the Astros' lack of home run hitters is an issue. In 2011 all four National League playoff teams were ranked among the top eight clubs in home runs for the season. In 2010 the only playoff team not to hit more home runs than the league average was the Braves. In 2009, three of the four playoff teams ranked in the top six in home runs. The Astros have managed just 13 runs in their last eight games. Only three teams have scored fewer runs in May. Not coincidently, Brad Mills' team has just nine home runs for the month. Throw in the hitter friendly left field at Minute Maid, where pop ups can go out, and you have a team devoid of a long ball threat, a club starving for home run power. The even more concerning part is that this doesn't appear to be just a dry spell. It's who the Astros are at this point. Carlos Lee, with two home runs, has turned into a 19 million singles hitter. The Astros' leaders in home runs are Chris Johnson and Jed Lowrie with four a piece. So where will the Astros get pop in the lineup? JD Martinez, who displayed an occasional ability to hit the ball out of the park, is slumping badly. But Martinez was not projected to be a 30 plus home run hitter anyway. Help from the farm is likely two years away. First baseman Jonathan Singleton currently has five home runs in 115 at bats for Double A Corpus Christi. At Lancaster, the Astros' Class A affiliate, outfielder George Springer, the 2011 first round pick, has eight bombs in 147 at bats. And on the same team first baseman Telvin Nash has 11 dingers in just 127 at bats, but the red flag is that Nash is batting just .228 with 55 strikeouts. General Manager Jeff Luhnow's top priority during the off-season just might be finding legitimate power, whether through the draft, a trade or a free agency. Because generating runs nightly via a succession of singles is not a winning formula. That is no way to sustain a good or even decent offense. And by the way, the Astros will compete in the American League next season, where home runs are even more necessary. Power wins. And absolute lack of power loses, absolutely.
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