American Association 2021 Mid-Season Report: Houston Apollos
American Association Daily provides insights, features, and recaps of the action from around the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions. In today’s edition, Robert Pannier looks at the first half of the season for the Houston Apollos, looking at top players, areas to improve, and where this team is likely to finish.
Houston Apollos Reach Midway Point
Record: 7-42 (6, 12 (Place in Division in parenthesis, followed by record overall)
(Overall ranking in American Association listed in parenthesis)
Average: .230 (12)
Homeruns: 41 (11)
Runs: 188 (12)
Stolen Bases: 26 (11)
On-Base Percentage: .315 (12)
Slugging Percentage: .351 (12)
ERA: 7.38 (12)
Strikeouts: 325 (12)
Opponent Batting Average: .317 (12)
Saves: 5 (12)
Fielding Percentage: .965 (12)
Errors: 58 (12)
First Half Recap
It could very well be that the Houston Apollos set an American Association record for least victories in a season, but that will be the most misleading stat you may ever see. This Apollos team has played very well. It has been the struggles of the pitching staff, especially in the bullpen that has been a challenge. Unfortunately, this is an area that will likely not improve as the season goes along.
However, Houston has established themselves as a formidable opponent. Despite losing 42 of their first 49 games, 21 of those losses have come by three runs or fewer runs, which includes their last five games. The team recently gave the defending champion Milwaukee Milkmen everything they could handle, losing three one-run games.
While there have not been eye-popping numbers throughout this lineup, a number of players have established themselves as quality performers, starting with outfielder Blake Berry. Berry has hit .282 with 29 runs scored and has walked 20 times in 43 games. Had he not been locked into playing for Houston, he would definitely be on one of the other 11 American Association rosters right now.
It has been the performance of the pitching staff that has cost this team games. They have generally performed well, but when things go bad, they have gone really bad. It has been one or two innings that have generally cost them games, but this is part of the growing pains of a very young team playing a little above their heads right now.
Aaron Takacs was added from the Pecos League and he has looked outstanding in his first six games for the team, hitting .348 with two homers and seven runs driven in. Takacs was in MVP candidate in the Pecos League last season and has picked up where he left off last year.
There is no reason to pick on anyone on this Houston roster. They have faced the challenge of being on the road for the entire season and have more than surpassed expectations.
However, one player that much was expected out of was David Aldrich. He had played for the Salina Stockade when they were the traveling team in 2017 and performed very well. So, expectations were high for the outfielder. He has struggled through a disappointing season, nothing he would not be the first to admit. The team needs him to hit about 50 points higher down the stretch.
What They Need
Houston needs just one thing – more consistency out of their pitching staff. They had the advantage of being able to plug players out of the Pecos League, but they need this pitching staff to step up. This is a team that could very well win 12 or 13 games in the second half if they can get a better performance from the group.
What to Expect
Unfortunately, I expect Houston to finish with no more than 14 or 15 victories. That will be a disappointing number, but it should not be. These Apollos are very good and have done themselves proud. What I do expect from Houston is for them to give a lot of acid churning nights for the other 11 American Association managers.
By Robert Pannier