There is no secret that the Astros are one of the best teams in baseball. On paper anyway. But who are the team’s biggest rivals in 2017?
Say the 2017 season unfolds in the manner that most people and projections expect. The end result is the Astros perched on top as one the best teams in the American League.
The question remains on whom the Astros must go through to reach that potential. More appropriately, who are Houston’s biggest rivals today?
Rival #1: Texas Rangers
At this point, the Astros lack of success against the Rangers has been well-documented. So much so that I won’t spend a great deal of time elaborating on the subject.
The truth remains the same though no matter how many times the message has been preached; Houston must find a way to best their inter-state rivals in 2017. The division and possibly a postseason berth rides in the balance. If that doesn’t convince you then look back at the last two seasons.
Any different opinions? Crickets? Yeah, I thought so.
Rival #2: Cleveland Indians
This technically isn’t a rivalry if I can be honest. Or at least a full blown one. Sure, they are technically rivals in the purpose of pursuing the AL pennant. But these two franchises have too little history to automatically thrust itself into an Astros fan rivalry list that contains the Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, and Atlanta Braves.
But the potential is there for something to develop. Like the Astros, the Indians are projected to be one of the best teams in baseball this year. In fact, the American League may go through Cleveland. I wouldn’t be surprised to witness some close games during the regular season between these two clubs. Then there is the potential for postseason dramatics if both reach that far.
Like I said, the only reason they are even on the list is because they can possibly stand in the way. But don’t be surprise if a rivalry of sorts emerges from the 2017 season.
Rival #3: Seattle Mariners
I wouldn’t sleep on the Mariners this year if I’m the Astros. Don’t forget that this is the same team that ended up second in the AL West. For those that may not remember, the Astros finished third. That little tidbit from last season seems to be glossed over when you look back at the 2016 season.
Like Houston, Seattle has improved their roster. But while the Astros concentrated mainly on hitters, the Mariners notably added to their pitching depth. And both teams face questions whether that will be enough.
The key difference between the Astros and Mariners is quite simple: the farm system. While Seattle improved their major league roster, they somewhat depleted an already thin farm system. Houston’s farm system remains in somewhere within the top-ten to fifteen in baseball. As far as 2017 is concerned though, the Astros and Mariners could feature some fun games to watch.
Unlike their AL counterparts, the Astros have yet to develop multiple rivals due to the small amount of time in the Junior Circuit. That could change though as there is a good possibility that Houston makes a run at postseason glory. And we all know from the team’s time in the National League, that is when some of the fiercest rivalries are born.