“I don’t want guys swinging at a pitch unless they can hit a homer,” said Dave Hudgens, the Astros’ hitting coach.
“I don’t want guys swinging at a pitch unless they can do damage. If you go in with that mind-set, you’re not going to miss your pitch as often.”
Hudgens, who has also coached for Oakland and the Mets, said he had always approached hitting this way. To make it work, though, Houston built a talented lineup with no holes.
From 2011 through 2013, the Astros lost 324 games. As a new general manager, Jeff Luhnow, overhauled the organization with an emphasis on analytics after his hiring in December 2011, the players on the roster felt hopeless.
“It was like we were trying to find a way to lose a game,” said the utility man Marwin Gonzalez, a rookie in 2012. “You’d say sometimes in the morning, ‘Oh, I gotta go to the ballpark.’ It wasn’t fun.”
Outfielder Josh Reddick, then with the Athletics, remembers the opposite feeling when facing the Astros. Hitters, he said, seemed to race one another to the bat rack. It was going to be a good day.
But the Astros’ pitchers have evolved, too. They lead the…