Evan Gattis is Revitalizing the Astros Offense

Welcome back, you burly bastard!
Welcome back, you burly bastard! Photo by Jack Gorman
About a month ago, even Evan Gattis himself would probably not argue that he was a drag on the Astros lineup. The designated hitter couldn't actually hit. Gattis has never been a hitter for average. He hit .263 in his best seasons, 2014 and last year, but he generally hovers in the .240s. The burly designated hitter is better known for his power. Up until last season, when his plate appearances were cut nearly in half compared to previous seasons thanks to the acquisition of Brian McCann, Gattis routinely hit 20 homers and drove in 70 runs.

In early May, he had exactly two home runs and eight RBIs. There was talk on sports radio and Twitter that it might be time to let the lumberjack go. But, true to form, Astros manager AJ Hinch stuck by his guy and it is paying off.

A month later, Gattis has 11 home runs and 37 RBIs. He has 7 of those home runs in the last 14 games including Tuesday night in Oakland when he added a double and drove in a career high five runs. His average has crept up to .239 and his OPS, down near .600 a month ago, is now .768. He is close to his production for the entirety of 2017 through 57 games.

All these numbers are fine, but what they represent for the Astros is a rejuvenated lineup that extends well beyond the top five. For April and even part of May, the everyday lineup was doing well in spots, but it couldn't sustain it. With key injuries and players like Gattis hitting well below their typical averages, the bottom of the order was a veritable black hole.

But since then, they have gotten a couple guys back from the DL and Gattis has surged.

The Astros offensive slump (if you can even really call it that) happened to coincide with one of their toughest stretches of games this season. They still managed to come through that with only the unreal Mariners in front of them in the AL West. Now, as they enter a soft spot in the schedule (and the Mariners take on some much tougher competition), the Astros bats have really come to life and Gattis is the hottest of the bunch.

In a long season, regression to the mean is pretty common. In the case of Gattis, it's progression and it has been huge for the Astros. By the All-Star break, the Astros should be in a lot better shape and Gattis will have been one of the main reasons. Amazing considering how many people thought they might be better without him just a month ago.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke