The Astros got even better than last year and they still aren’t getting as much attention as the Yankees.
Winning the offseason does not win you the World Series. Sorry Yankee fans.
Everyone is talking about the new Giancarlo Stanton Aaron Judge combination while the defending champion Houston Astros are flying under the radar. It’s cool that Stanton can hit a baseball 500 feet but he himself does not make the Yankees a better team than the Houston Astros.
It probably has something to do with the fact that the Yankees hail form New York and not Houston but that doesn’t mean the Astros should get no respect. Adding all-star pitcher Gerrit Cole while beefing up the bullpen makes Houston as dangerous as ever.
Cole has had an iffy career to date but a change of scenery from the Pittsburgh Pirates may help him. You were able to see his potential in 2015 when he was able to post a 2.60 earned run average (ERA) while striking out just over 200 batters. By the way, Cole is still only 27 years-old. If he can stay healthy, Cole could be a 15 plus game-winner with Houston this season.
Like I said before, the Astros added to their bullpen this offseason. To pair with flamethrower Ken Giles and superb set-up guys Chris Devenski and Will Harris, Houston acquired the services of former Chicago Cubs closer Hector Rondon and sidearmer Joe Smith who has had a very good 11 year career to date. Houston’s bullpen ranked 17th in ERA in 2017 and there is no doubt that Rondon’s 3.22 and Smith’s 2.97 career ERA’s will help that.
Houston also still has all of their core contributors from last year. Reigning American League MVP Jose Altuve just inked a five year extension with the ‘Stros, while his middle infield partner Carlos Correa has his eyes set on taking the MVP title from his teammate this upcoming season. That is going to be hard to do considering the 5’6″ slugger hit almost .350 last season. But if anyone can do it, it is going to be the 23 year-old Correa who has frequently been compared to a young Alex Rodriguez.
What makes Houston even scarier is that Altuve and Correa aren’t the only ones balling out. They still have World Series MVP George Springer with his 40 homer potential, and third baseman Alex Bregman who had a great first full-season in the big leagues. Bregman hit near .290, while stealing some bags, showing some pop in his bat, and playing solid defense which was on full display in the World Series against the Dodgers.
Oh and another thing, the Astros will have a full year of former Cy Young Award recipient Justin Verlander who looked very comfortable in Houston posting a 1.06 ERA for them down the stretch.
So as excited as you can be for your respective team, you have to remember the Houston Astros are the the team to beat. There is hope for Yankees, Red Sox, and Indians fans that their team can snatch the AL pennant from Houston but they shouldn’t hold their breath. This young talent-loaded Astros team isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
-Jarrod Ribaudo (@Jribs53)