Photo courtesy of houseofhouston.com
By Ross Sutton
Last season, the Houston Astros had a historic season in which they went 101-61 during the regular season and won the franchise’s first World Series when they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in 7 games. The Astros were carried by young stars Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer along with veterans Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel. The Astros continued to make additions this offseason by trading for the Pirates best starting pitcher Gerrit Cole in exchange for Joe Musgrove, Colin Moran, Jason Martin, and Michael Feliz. Houston also signed relievers Hector Rondon and Joe Smith this offseason. Players that the Astros lost in free agency include Cameron Maybin (Marlins), Luke Gregerson (Cardinals), Tyler Clippard (Blue Jays), Mike Fiers (Tigers), and Francisco Liriano (Tigers). Carlos Beltran will also not return to the team for the 2018 season as he retired after 20 seasons in the MLB.
Overall, I believe that the Astros got better this offseason mainly because they acquired Gerrit Cole. Cole is a hard throwing righty who many believe has not reached his full potential. This gives the Astros an extremely strong trio of starters (Verlander, Keuchel, Cole) that will be a huge factor come playoff time. Houston has an elite core of players including American League MVP Jose Altuve who has been one of the best players in the game over the last few seasons and has shown no signs of slowing down. In fact, Houston and Altuve agreed to a 5-year, $151M extension this offseason that will start in 2020. The Astros should have a good chance to repeat as World Series champions this year but unfortunately for them, the Yankees and Red Sox have both improved this offseason and the Indians are still a very good team. That being said, the sky's the limit for Houston as they are still as good as any team in the league. As long as there isn’t any “World Series hangover” for the Astros, they will be the team to beat in the American League. I predict the Astros will go 101-61 again this season, easily winning the AL west, but I think the Yankees or Red Sox will take down the defending champs in the playoffs and not let them repeat. It is incredibly hard to reach the World Series consecutively and it is ever harder to win the World Series twice in a row. I think that fatigue will set in for the Astros and they will not have enough left in the tank to get back to the fall classic in 2018.
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