April is “Set a Tone” month for the Houston Astros.
They have an upgraded roster, a healthy rotation, and a renovated stadium. For the Astros to set a tone for their 2017 season, I believe 11 wins against divisional opponents is crucial to their efforts for a championship.
17 chances to get 11 divisional wins
The Astros will play 17 games against divisional opponents in April. They open the season with a four-game series against the Seattle Mariners and will visit them the following week for an additional three-game series. Next, they head to Oakland for a three games series. There will be a quick turn around to make a four game home stand against the Angels. The Stros will end April with a three games series against the Athletics.
Why 11 wins?
Last year, the Rangers won ten games against divisional opponents. Of those ten wins, three came against the Astros. The Rangers swept them in their opening series. They went 1-7 against divisional opponents in the month of April last season. As competitive as the AL West is set to be, the importance of eleven wins escalates. It sends a message that you are a threat for the divisional title. It establishes a trend of winning early, which resonates throughout the season.
26 games in April
Along with their divisional opponents, the Astros will play a three-game series against the Royals, Rays, and Indians. Out of these nine games, a 5-4 record would be ideal. This would leave the Astros with a 16-10 record in April. This would exceed the Ranger’s prior year record of 14-11 in the month of April.
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So much comparison
I’m not the biggest fan of making so many comparisons to the Rangers, but we have to remember that they have won the division in back to back years (2015 – 2016). Not only that, this team went 4-15 against the Rangers in 2016.
This systematically kept the Astros out of the playoffs. The most important thing about this statistic is that speaks to the value of wins within the division. If the Stros had finished near .500 against the Rangers, a wildcard spot would’ve been very attainable.
The Hype of the AL West is Prominent
Eleven wins against divisional opponents would speak volumes to the confidence of this organization. Adrian Garro from MLB.com writes that the AL West, “ it is this author’s opinion that there’s reason to believe the AL West will be the most entertaining of all in the upcoming year.” See the full article below:
Joe Giglio of New Jersey Real-Time Sports is also boasting the AL West:
All in all, we are in for a fun season. Even though a World Series cannot be won in April, it can certainly be lost.
***Stats and data retrieved from MLB.com and Baseball Reference***