I saw an interesting piece by Jerome Solomon in the Chronicle a few days ago about the Astros. We know the team is going into 2011 as a rebuilding squad aiming to develop young players for the future. On the field, Houston is a combination of ready-made parts (Hunter Pence, Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, Michael Bourn) with lots of green players (Chris Johnson, Brett Wallace, Jay Happ, Bud Norris, etc.). Can camaraderie carry this baseball team to a winning season?

Solomon spoke with a number of the key players in the organization, including manager Brad Mills, Pence, and the newly-acquired Bill Hall. One quote stuck out to me.
This team has a lot of chemistry,” Pence told the Chronicle. “We know that we’re capable of doing good things, but we have to build off the end of last season and the work this winter. We have to continue to improve.”

How important is chemistry in winning baseball games? This is something I’ve always wondered; in a sport where you win based on a large series of individual matchups, can a united team play above its total ability? To me, this season will be determined by simple things. Can Norris develop some of that unrealized potential? Will Wallace, Jason Castro, and Carlos Lee produce at the plate? Is this team one that is capable of drawing walks consistently?

carlos lee Does Chemistry Matter In Baseball?

(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images Sport)

I don’t deny that having chemistry and an “all-in” mentality is a positive for any team. However, the holes on the Astros are obvious: weak middle infield, very young offensive players, no stars in the bullpen, and question marks in the back end of the rotation. It’s nice to see that Pence and a lot of the players got together in the offseason to work out, but will that help Castro hit above the Mendoza line?

Baseball is a game of stats. You have to pitch well, hit, and play some defense to get wins; I can see why Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay might carry the Phillies to the pennant. It’s a lot tougher for me to visualize how chemistry will carry the Astros to .500.

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