There has been plenty of optimism spreading around about the Astros recently, and I love it. It seems like for the first time in forever the Astros are getting some positive appearance in the press, and the consensus seems to be that there is no laughing stock baseball team in Houston anymore. It seems more and more people are “drinking the kool-aid” each and every week, and I am most certainly chugging down that kool-aid. So, with that in mind, I’ve decided to make a bold prediction for the 2015 season.
Now I know that this prediction might not seem that bold to some Astros fans who watched the club intensely last year, but for the Astros to get not 1, not 2, but 3 All-Stars in 2015, it would be a pretty big deal in Houston, Texas and would probably mean that the Astros are making waves in the MLB up to that point. Many believe that collectively, the Astros do have a strong enough roster to surprise people this season, but individually, there are still question marks.
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We don’t know whether Jose Altuve will be able to put up another season with 200+ hits or more than 50 stolen bases, but if he is anywhere near that pace through the 91 games that take place before the All Star Game, he needs to be voted in as a starter at second base. It will be tough going against the likes of Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia, etc., but if Houston wants to become more of a baseball town, we need to put some of the 4 million people we have in this city to good use.
As for George Springer, the whole country saw what the talented young outfielder can do in a sample size of 78 games last season, and this recent surge of Astros buzz has people craving for more from number four. If you take his stats from 2014, Springer had 20 HR and also turned two double plays from right field.
If Springer can show the same power, he’s projected about 23 HR leading up to the All Star break, and if he can still show the same flare from right field, he’ll certainly pass the eye test with the fans. He will need to get his batting average from the .230 range to the .250 or .260 range and decrease his strikeout frequency and the competition between A.L. outfielders will certainly be intense, but if Springer can wow Astros fans like he did in spurts last season, he certainly will be looking like an All-Star candidate come mid-July.
Last but not least, I don’t see how Dallas Keuchel can be left off of the American League rotation if he continues his performance from 2014. With plenty of talented pitching in the A.L., Kansas City Royals Manager Ned Yost will definitely have some tough decisions to make, but I believe that Keuchel’s recent performance is enough reason to put him in the conversation. If the Astros’ ace has an ERA under 3.00 nearing the break and a winning record (which is the key), it will be hard to keep him out of Cincinnati for the Mid-Summer Classic. With an improved lineup and bullpen, Keuchel should be seeing an increase in run support and less blown leads in his starts, which will lead to more wins for him and the team, as well as a lower ERA.
With all of the activity that occurred this offseason, the American League definitely got stronger. But, the Astros got stronger too. Hopefully, with these three all-stars leading the way, winning baseball in Houston is not too far away.