Baseball is unpredictable. Teams and players can do some pretty amazing things sometimes. There are some observations that show some unique features of certain teams that if the season ended today, would be in the playoffs. Lets take a look at a couple of these.
It has been a known fact this season that the Astros can put on an offensive clinic. The have some of the best young hitters in the game including Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, and George Springer. What I have noticed is that they are the best team with pitches in the zone, and not by a small amount either. Below is the MLB
z-contact percentage in relation to wRC+. Notice the Astros way up in the upper right corner highlighted in red. They blow the rest of baseball away in these categories. On out of zone contact percentage, the Astros rank 2nd in all of baseball. But what is more impressive is the fact that they are not swinging out of the zone often. They rank 21st in o-swing% which shows they are not reaching out of the zone often as a team. The Astros are an incredibly dangerous offense do to the contact that they make in the strike zone.
Kansas City Royals:
Remember when the Royals won the World Series in 2015? They were known as the team the puts the ball in play and forces the defense to make plays. They were an aggressive team at the plate, but did not swing for the fences. Well, this year they are looking very similar. The graph on the right shows the MLB swing % with the Royals highlighted in red. Notice that they swing the most and therefore walk the least. Below is a table that shows where the Royals ranked in certain categories in 2015 and now in 2017:
The Royals are following somewhat the same formula as they did in 2015 by not walking or striking out much and swing a lot. The big difference comes in the contact. Royals were much better in 2015 and was a key to their success. With Cain, Hosmer, and Merrifield being three of the hottest hitters in baseball the contact rank may improve. They are still a team that is tough to put away due to their ability to attack and put the pressure on the opposing defense.
Both the Astros and the Royals have had great success this year. Back in 2015 the Royals came back to beat the Astros in a thrilling Wild Card game. These teams have the possibility to meet again this year in the playoffs. Part of the beauty of baseball is that there is no one way to win, and the Astros and Royals are just one example.