At 105-55, the Houston Astros own the best record in Major League Baseball, and their regular season dominance will translate into postseason success. Here are five reasons why the Astros will win the 2019 World Series.
Their Lineup is Absurd
Going into the regular season the Astros had one of, if not the best positional quartet in baseball in Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Alex Bregman. Well, their lineup became even more lethal with the free agent signing of Michael Brantley and emergence of rookie Yordan Alvarez.
Brantley has been exceptional. Hitting .311 while sporting an .873 OPS and totaling 22 home runs, 89 RBIs, 178 hits, and just 66 strikeouts, he has been one of the best hitters in the sport this season and highway robbery for the Astros. Meanwhile, Alvarez is hitting .321 and sporting a 1.092 OPS while totaling 27 home runs and 78 RBIs in the 85 games he has appeared in. Think about that efficiency for a second or two.
Brantley and Alvarez made an already formidable Astros lineup absurd. Also, Yuli Gurriel is hitting .297 and has totaled 30 home runs and 102 RBIs, and Josh Reddick is their eighth-best hitter. Manager AJ Hinch has an uncanny amount of players whom he can lean on for offense.
Their Starting Rotation is Electric
The Astros starting rotation is as potent as any unit in the sport. Justin Verlander (2.53 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 288 strikeouts) and Gerrit Cole (2.52 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 316 strikeouts) are putting together Cy Young Award-caliber seasons, and the midseason addition of Zack Greinke created a filthy pitching trio.
This pitching trio is the ideal grouping to take down a relentless offense like the ones the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins possess. Verlander, Cole, and Greinke are strikeout pitchers who excel at keeping hitters guessing. When they go up against a home run or bust prone offense — such as the Yankees and Twins — it induces a lot of swings and misses and partially immobilizes the opposing lineup.
While he has been shaky over his last five starts, left-hander Wade Miley has been a reliable force on the rubber for the bulk of this season. This is easily the best starting rotation in the American League, and it can go toe-to-toe with any rotation in the National League too.
They Have no Glaring Weakness
More often than not, every World Series contender has an Achilles heel or a weakness that could come back to bite them in the postseason.
For the New York Yankees, it’s their starting rotation; for the Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, and Washington Nationals, it’s their bullpens; for the Oakland Athletics and Milwaukee Brewers, it’s the lack of a true ace; for the St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays, it’s their lineups.
However, the Astros are the exception. They have a potent lineup, an accomplished rotation, and a well-versed bullpen. What could you even argue as being a kryptonite? They only have three aces? Their lineup is only eight-men deep? Any sort of postseason letdown for the Astros would derive from underachievement, rather than a select aspect of their roster.
Perhaps the biggest reason for the Astros’ remarkable regular season — besides their high-profile players — is health. For the better part of the last two seasons, their double-play duo (Altuve, Correa) has dealt with recurring injures, and it hindered their 2018 World Series aspirations. While injuries have snakebite them a bit this season, both middle infielders are healthy and ready to wreak havoc in the postseason (the Astros are supposedly optimistic that Correa’s back will be fine for the postseason).
Now, right-hander Collin McHugh has been ruled out for the remainder of the season due to an elbow injury. On the other hand, the Astros are getting Brad Peacock back, and he has been a steady force as both a starter and reliever. Greinke’s arrival and Peacock’s return essentially offset McHugh’s absence, when it concerns the number of reliable arms at Hinch’s disposal.
The Astros lineup, starting rotation, and bullpen are all healthy. There’s nothing more they could ask for.
They Have Postseason Experience – Both Good and Bad
The 2019 season will mark the fourth time in the last five years that the Astros will be playing in the postseason; they’ve endured some epic highs and humbling lows. In 2017 they won the World Series after dueling their way through back-to-back seven-game series with the Yankees and Dodgers.
Two years earlier they blew a 2-1 series lead to the Kansas City Royals in the AL Division Series. In Game 4 of that series Correa made a pivotal error on what should’ve been a bang-bang double play, and it opened the floodgates to a five-run eighth inning for the Royals and eventually the Astros’ elimination in Game 5. Last season they lost four consecutive games to the Boston Red Sox in the AL Championship Series, which included three consecutive losses in Minute Maid Park to end the series.
The Astros have experienced the good and bad of October baseball. Their offense knows what to expect in such play, and their starting rotation is full of pitchers who have excelled in the postseason. The Astros have never sported a more lethal ballclub than they have this season, and it’s going to power them to another World Series championship.