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Since 2009, Astros starting pitchers have recorded victories in 56.8% of Houston’s wins (157 of 276). For a team who has only won 136 games since the beginning of the 2010-2011 Regular Season (.361 winning %), picking up victories for a starting pitcher in that particular rotation becomes very difficult. Looking at the Astros franchise as a whole, from 1993 to 2006, Houston finished above .500 13 of 14 times and made the playoffs in six of those seasons. The Astros decade or so of success is really the only bright spot in their 52-year franchise, especially with the fact that Houston has only made the playoffs three times in their other 38 seasons combined.
Throughout the history of the Astros, there have been many real talented players to come through their franchise, such as Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt and even through the 1970’s, Cesar Cedeno. From 2009 to 2013, not only has there not been a player to step up and take the reigns of the franchise, but Houston has had trouble simply fielding a Major League team sometimes. I hate to be cliché, but when I think about Astros starting pitcher Bud Norris, “diamond in the rough” is not exactly the first phrase that comes to mind; but maybe it should.
When you put Bud Norris’ career splits into focus, you begin to notice some really “un-Astro-like” qualities, which actually become pretty impressive given the type of play going on around him during this span. Since Norris made the first start of his career on July 29th, 2009, the Astros are 225-361 (.383) as a team. For comparison, the Miami (Florida) Marlins are 268-332 since that day in July of 2009, which is a winning percentage of .446. Bud Norris throughout his career has been his most impressive at home in Houston, where he holds a 3.31 ERA compared to his 5.54 ERA on the road. Norris’ home success though goes well beyond his almost plus 2-run differential in ERA, especially if you take a look at his opponent batting average numbers where his home numbers are 60 points better than his road ones (.223-.283).
Here is where some of the impressive numbers Norris has put up at home get translated into a calculable figure. In Norris’ 55 career starts at home, Bud is 20-15 as a starter in terms of wins and losses and the Astros are an astonishing 31-24. In five seasons starting for the Astros, Bud has recorded 21.3% of Houston’s home wins since the middle of the 2009 regular season.
If you were to have bet $100 on the Astros for every home game that Bud Norris started since his Major League debut in 2009, you would currently have netted $1,045. On the contrary, if you had done the same for every one of Norris’ road starts in his career, you would have lost $459 in total (19-34 road record overall). Amazingly enough, Norris has been a profitable home pitcher for bettors every individual season throughout his career.
Bud Norris’ 1.78 ERA at home since the beginning of the 2012 season leads all of baseball during that span and that is just one of the reasons why Norris is the current “ace” of the Astros rotation. In 2013, Bud has not allowed more than two earned runs at home in any of his starts, but with the Astros 24th in MLB in runs scored per game (3.87 R/GM) and 25th in runs scored per home game (3.70 R/GM), wins based on run support should be difficult to come by. The Astros are ranked last in MLB in home ERA with a 5.50 in 2013, which is almost a full run worse than the 29th ranked team in that category, Toronto, (5.50-4.76 = 0.74). Houston’s 4.13 home ERA since the beginning of the 2010 regular season compared to Bud’s 3.31 career home ERA really tells the majority of the story and success of Bud Norris with the Astros.