8. Resilience to stay in the playoff hunt despite April.
It is no secret that the Houston Astros got off to a poor start to 2016, but they did not give up. After going 7-17 in April, the Astros got hot in May and June. During those two months, the Astros went 35-20. What happened to get them back on track? Lance McCullers returned, Valbuena started hitting again, and Hinch switched Altuve and Springer. Altuve started the season leading off, but Springer really took off when he started batting leadoff.
They were 42-37 at that point, but they only got 42 more wins the rest of the season. The biggest surprise that the Astros were in contention despite the record versus the Rangers. The Houston Astros went 4-15 versus the Rangers. This was the primary reason the Astros finished in third place in the AL West. To win in 2017, the Astros must play better versus the Rangers. The added veteran depth should help.
7. Devenski, Musgrove provide shot in the arm for pitching staff by Andrew Gleinser.
For an Astros pitching staff that suffered from injury and underperformance in 2016, there were a couple of bright spots. The emergence of Chris Devenski and Joseph Musgrove as quality big league arms bodes well heading into 2017.
Devenski was acquired from the White Sox as a player-to-be-named-later in the 2012 trade that sent Brett Myers to Chicago. He made the team out of spring training and was immediately effective, throwing three shutout innings of relief in his major league debut on April 8.
Across 43 relief appearances and five starts, Devenski posted a 4-4 record with a 2.16 ERA over 108.1 innings. He quickly proved himself to be a reliable arm who could come in at any point in the game and consistently throw strikes for multiple innings.
Musgrove the emerging ace?
Musgrove came to Houston in the 2012 trade that sent J.A. Happ and Brandon Lyon to Toronto. He made his major league debut on Aug. 2 against the Blue Jays, throwing 4.1 shutout innings of relief with eight strikeouts.
He joined the rotation five days later and remained there for the duration of the season. At times brilliant, and at times clearly a rookie, Musgrove finished with a 4.06 ERA for the season. The 24-year-old should have a shot to make the rotation out of spring training in 2017.