The Houston Astros are primed to make a deep playoff run in 2017
The Houston Astros come into the 2017 season with their most star-studded lineup since the 2005 team that went to the World Series.
The team’s core stars of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer were forced to carry the majority of the offensive load last season due to poor performances from hitters in the bottom half of the lineup.
General Manager Jeff Luhnow decided to solve that problem this season by bringing in better hitters who can make the offense better from the top of the batting order down to the bottom.
The Astros’ marquee signing this offseason was 39-year-old outfielder and former Astro Carlos Beltran. Beltran was traded to Houston during the 2004 season and helped them reach the National League Championship Series. Beltran has had a Hall of Fame worthy career and was still a productive hitter last season, as he was named an All-Star for the ninth time in his career.
The Astros also traded for a seven-time All-Star catcher Brian McCann, a major offensive upgrade over the Astros’ former catcher, Jason Castro. They also signed veteran outfielder Josh Reddick for his offensive and defensive versatility.
One of the top young prospects in all of baseball is the Astros’ Alex Bregman. The 22-year-old infielder was called up to the team last season after having played just one season in the minor leagues. He was drafted with the second overall pick in the 2017 draft.
Bregman struggled out of the gate to start his career by only getting one hit in his first 34 at-bats. He was then able to adjust by hitting .329 with eight home runs over his next 160 plate appearances.
The Astros’ best player, 5’6’’ second baseman Jose Altuve, finished third in the American League MVP voting last season. He went on to lead the American League with the most hits for the third consecutive season. Altuve is the engine that makes the Astros’ offense roar and is in a position to have another big season with more help around him in the lineup.
The Astros’ biggest area of concern heading into the 2017 season is their starting rotation of pitchers.
Dallas Keuchel, the 2015 Cy Young Award winner, could not find the same success last season that he had in 2015. It was later revealed that he played much of the season with a shoulder injury. The Astros will need a bounce-back year from Keuchel in order for them to return to the playoffs and make a deep run.
The rest of the Astros starting pitching rotation will consist of Lance McCullers, Colin McHugh and two of either Mike Fiers, Joe Musgrove or free agent acquisition Charlie Morton.
The Astros will have one of the best offenses in the American League and should continue to be among the league leaders in home runs this season.
I think shortstop Carlos Correa will continue to get better and contend for the American League MVP award this season along with teammate Jose Altuve.
The Astros’ starting pitching staff is a big question mark and will determine how far their season will go. I see the Astros having trouble against teams with several great hitters like the Rangers and Red Sox.
However, I expect their excellent relief pitchers like Ken Giles and Will Harris will continue to be solid and help take some of the load off of the starting pitchers. Although the starting pitching may give up a lot of runs, the Astros’ hitters are good enough to produce runs in a hurry.
I believe this team has enough firepower this season to win their first World Series, which is something I’ve never said before. I’m picking the Astros to win their division and then defeat the defending champions, Chicago Cubs, in seven games in the World Series.