7 Things the Astros are Thankful For

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Jun 26, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) and center fielder George Springer (4) celebrate a victory against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Houston beat Texas 8-3. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! Whether its your friends and family, the big promotion you’ve been waiting for, or just living life every day, it’s that time of year where we all look back at what we have to be thankful for. Naturally, that brings me to the Astros. What does the organization, and the entire fan base have to be thankful for as we close out 2014 and head into 2015?

1) Jose Altuve: What a season this 5’5″ star just had for the Astros. He won the AL Batting Title, the Silver Slugger, the Stolen Bases Title, became a 2-time All-Star, and also became the Astros all-time single season hits leader. He went from being good, to an instant superstar and team leader. Everybody within and outside the Astros system absolutely loves this guy, and Houston is lucky to have him represent the organization.

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2) “The Streak” is over: 2011-2013 was the worst streak in franchise history, losing at least 106 games over the three seasons. Coming into 2014, analysts were predicting the Astros to be terrible again, and not really have a chance to compete. Instead, the Astros went 70-92 with one of the best rotations in the league, and were very competitive. The 70 wins would have been more if it weren’t for the bullpen blowing the most saves in baseball. And it could have been more if the lineup had somebody other than Altuve get on base throughout the season. Regardless, they ended the worst streak in Astros history, and have started crawling from the bottom.

3) Minor League System: ESPN had the Astros as the #1 Farm System in baseball heading into the 2014 season. It was hard to argue after every team went to the playoffs in 2013 with the each team stacked from top-to-bottom. The Farm System didn’t have the same success in 2014, as that would be very hard to replicate. But what was awesome was seeing a lot of guys who won the championship with the Quad Cities River Bandits in 2013, win the championship with the Lancaster JetHawks in 2014. Now those guys will be in Corpus in 2015, and it will be very interesting to see if they can replicate their success from the previous two seasons. Expect another promising season overall from Fresno, all the way to Quad Cities, and eventually the short-season teams after the Draft in June.

4) Brent Strom: What this guy did with Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh was amazing. Keuchel went on to be an All-Star finalist and the true ace of the Astros while McHugh went on to be a Rookie of the Year contender, and finally getting it together after bouncing around with the Mets and Rockies. He also got Jose Veras to turn his season around after being let go by the Cubs a couple of months into the season. How about his work with Josh Fields? That one didnt go unnoticed either. There’s a reason why Jeff Luhnow had Mark Appel stop by and have a bullpen session with Strom on his way to Corpus from Lancaster. And it’s a big reason why I think Appel turned it around in Corpus, and in the AFL this offseason. Strom will continue to do wonders for the young guys expected to man the rotation and bullpen for years to come.

5) George Springer: The king of the “Springer Dinger” is one of the best prospects the Astros have had in years. He was actually the first thing that brought the Astros some positive media attention in quite awhile, as the kid is a human highlight reel. And yet, there was so much left to be desired from Springer after leaving with an injury just past the All-Star break for the remainder of the season. In 78 games, we saw Springer win the AL Rookie of the Month in May, hit 20 HR’s and bring in 51 RBI’s. Yes, he only hit .231, had 114 K’s, had 5 stolen bases, and committed 7 errors in a short span, but the good definitely outweigh the bad. Springer is going to continue to bring a lot more joy to the Astros for years to come, and his very bright future is something all Astros fans are thankful for.

6) Minute Maid Park: This is something that all Astros fans might take for granted, but Minute Maid Park is absolutely beautiful. After talking with numerous people who have been to lots of different ballparks, I constantly hear that the Juicebox is one of the best in the majors. Especially when that sun is setting, looking out over the railroad tracks, the skyline is amazing. And when the roof is closed, it can be one of the loudest stadiums in all of sports. I do expect those days to finally be back sooner than later, and MMP is a big reason why the winning will feel great again. Imagine the 2004-2005 seasons happening at the Astrodome, I can guarantee you those moments would not have felt as big there. Next time you go to an Astros game, really look around the beauty that is Minute Maid Park.

7) “The Process”: Oh yes, the good ol’ process. It’s been painful for a long time, but I promise that it will all be worth it when the Astros are in the playoffs year after year. The painful part is over, and now it’s time that the results start showing. Every single one of us who have stuck by the Astros through the whole CSN Houston debacle and listened to the games on the radio, who have been looking at the farm system for future hope, and who still went to the games while the Astros were losing two-thirds of their games, there is hope. How good is that playoff appearance going to feel for you? How about when they go to the World Series? We won’t be talking about all the losing anymore, we’ll be talking about the winning. And that is why we should be thankful.

I’m sure there are many more things the Astros can be thankful for. If any come to mind, please sound off in the comments below.

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