Off-Base Percentage is a weekly post about the lighter side of sports, mainly baseball. Whether it occurs on the field, in the locker room, or in the media, if it is a little ‘off-base’ then it is fair game. If you are looking for analysis of a player, team, or sport it won’t be found in this post. This is for the sports fan that wants to take a step back and look at sports from a ‘different’ angle. Enjoy.
As long as we survive the Apocalypse this December, next year will be huge for Major League Baseball. The American and National Leagues will finally have the same amount of teams on both sides. The league will be one year closer to losing the divisions and just becoming two fifteen-team leagues. However, the Houston Astros have the most growing pains to deal with in the whole transition. But they are treating the move as a makeover. This past week, the Astros released their new logo and uniforms for the upcoming 2013 season when they leave the National League Central and join the tough American League West.
Fresh off one of the worst seasons in baseball history, the ‘Stros will be looking for new up-tempo energy to bring playoff baseball back to the Houston area. How do you bring new energy to a struggling franchise? New threads, of course.
The Astros hope to turn their losing ways around by dressing nicer. However, they are joining one of the toughest divisions in baseball. They will have to answer to Seattle’s ace, Felix Hernandez. They will have to compete with the scrappy, moneyballers in Oakland. And they will have to face off against two of the league’s powerhouses, the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels. Sadly the Astros, who escaped Albert Pujols for only one year, will have to face their arch nemesis again this season–multiple times. At the unveiling it was mainly minor leaguers and top prospects modeling off the new gear. I am not sure that a group of young guys will be able to compete in that division without some hitting AND pitching help.
For a team that was bottom three in the league in runs, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage they will need some bats to help against Hernandez…and the rest of the rotations in the west. If a team only lacked quality hitting they could still compete if they had a quality pitching staff. But Astros lacked that too. They ranked in the bottom six of the league in each of the following four categories: earned run average, quality starts, WHIP, and batting average against. When you are that bad I am not sure if new uniforms will spark a playoff run.
I understand rebranding is very important for struggling teams so that you can keep the fans’ short attention spans. But either couple the new uniforms with new, headline names or nix the unis and spend that extra cash bring in those headliners. It all comes down to money and with a good-sized market like Houston the Astros have to be able to field a team that can compete in the American League. My advice? Start with hitting the free agency market looking for big bats. Fork over the cash to steal Josh Hamilton from the new in-state rivals. Hey, it could happen.
With all that being said, a new look means a new direction. Look at the Cleveland Cavaliers when they drafted LeBron James. New jerseys meant a new attitude. They won big and won often for seven years. They just never got the championship they so desperately craved. Maybe a new jersey is just what the doctor ordered for the Astros.
Do you like Houston’s new uniforms? How will they fare in the AL? When will be their next playoff appearance? Let me know in the comment section or on Twitter @Believelander.
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