Who the heck are the Astros? I was asking myself the same question earlier this week, so I asked my SBNation counterpart over at Crawfish Boxes to put together a scouting report for us.
Craig Biggio 2B -- Almost everything good that Biggio does with the bat these days happens down the third base line. Nearly all of his 40 doubles and career-high 26 homers were pulled into or above the left-field corner. Walks about half as much now as he did in his prime. Has also slowed a step and a half. Second best defensive second-baseman on the team. Extremely susceptible to swinging and missing a slider away, at any point in the count.
Willy Taveras -- Almost no power at all, and will go long stretches without hitting the ball out of the infield. But he also goes long stretches without hitting the ball out of the infield during his hit streaks, as he led the NL in infield hits and bunt singles. Blazing speed and a good smart baserunner who doesn't indscriminately go, but takes off from time to time. Though he ran less in the second half, certainly. In the field, can get to anything that stays in the park, but that doesn't mean he catches it. Can take bad routes, or misrecognize the flight of the ball. Still, capable of game-saving catches, and you won;t see him make a mistake at Minute Maid. I have serious issues with batting him second, as Garner has done since middle September.
Continued after the jump
Chris Burke LF/CF/2B-- Astros number one pick in the June 2001 draft played second base and short in college and in the minors, played left most of the year but played center most of the NLCS. Though fast, he is a liability in center, but is more than acceptable in left. Because he just happened to end the longest playoff game in history with a homer, then happened to homer in his next game, the power threat he represents was consistently overstated by announcers throughout the NLCS. Can be overmatched physically, but not mentally. Has yet to be intimidated by a steep learning curve.
Lance Berkman 1B/LF -- The best hitter on the team, and one of the best in baseball, has still not regained his form after a preseason knee injury, though he's getting close. 1.000 + postseason OPS. Switch hitter, with most of the power coming from the left side, but average evenly dispersed. Best plate discipline on the team, though Ensberg when he's going good can be just as discerning. A better first baseman than people give him credit for. His outfield fundamentals are acceptable enough, but his lack of speed in the wake of his injury makes him a dicey bet in left. Likes to play first, and hit singles, so he can jaw incessantly with the opposing players.
Morgan Ensberg 3B -- Team MVP wth 36 regular season homers has lost his power since getting hit on the hand with a pitch in mid-September. Five RBI's on nothing but singles in the first game of the NLDS. When going good, power to all fields. When going good, one of the most discerning batting eyes I have ever seen. Good defensively, especially on foul balls moving toward the jutting corner of the stands behind third base at Minute Maid. Good arm, and sound throwing fundamentals. The team would not have made the playoffs without his bat, and that it has won two series without him at his best is frankly amazing. Perhaps he returns on the largest stage.
Jason Lane RF -- Third most power on the team after Berkman and Ensberg. Susceptible to swinging at (and missing) the high strike out of the zone. Can hit a mistake out to either field. Able to cut down and punch the ball through with two strikes, as he did for RBI's during both the NLDS and NLCS. Been described as average in right, and certainly his speed is nothing to write home about, but his arm is better than average, and he can make the diving catch. He's better than average in right. Not possessed with a ton of natural confidence, and therefore streaky.
Adam Everett SS -- Stellar defender (just ask John Mabry) who comes in with the longest active postseason hitting streak for the 'Stros. Occasional Crawford Box power. Tendency to strike out on pitches in the dirt. When going good with the bat, can be average for his position. When going poorly, a hole in the lineup. Despite the stellar defense, will throw one away every now and then.
Brad Ausmus C -- Underrated with the bat (although this partially only goes to show the awful awful things they say about him) and overrated in throwing out runners. They've probably got it nailed when they talk about how well he handles a pitching staff. Coming in on a hot streak offensively; when he's bad, he's another hole in the lineup. Good eye, and no-one EVER says that. The Astros ran the squeeze more times with Ausmus at the plate than with anyone else. Garner will swap Ausmus and Everett in the lineup, seven and eight, depending on who's going better.