Does the Astros strong start classify as a surprise performance?
We all knew that the Astros were likely a winning team in 2017. Their early performance has only reinforced this notion.
If you check Fangraphs projected standings, you will notice that the Astros are noted to win 95 games entering today. Their current playoff odds are listed at 97.3%. Barring an unforeseen turn of events that would turn the entire city of Houston on its head, the Astros likely to make the postseason for the second time in three years.
All of that said, should we consider the Astros start to this season a surprise?
In a way we should as the Astros were not predicted to be this good in terms of their record. A 25-11 record to start the season is currently the best record in baseball. This record also represents the franchise’s best 36-game start in its history which dates back to 1962.
Some may chalk this strong start to the AL West, which is the division that the Astros currently reside in. Part of that is merited as their SRS (Simple Rating System) is currently 0.7 per Baseball Reference. However, it is not a team’s fault if their division rivals are not quite up to par with other divisions. The Astros just happen are taking advantage of a favorable schedule. In case you haven’t noticed, most “contenders” do the exact same thing. It also helps the Astros case that a few of their rivals, namely the Texas Rangers with Adrian Beltre and the Seattle Mariners with 80% of their projected starting rotation, are on the mend.
If we go back to the Fangraphs projections, you will notice that Houston is not expected to keep up a .694 winning percentage all season long. This shouldn’t be surprising as that is currently the pace of a roughly 112-win season if maintained. Instead, Fangraphs currently has the Astros projected winning percentage to be .557. Sooner or later, the Astros will likely take a step back. But the .557 projected winning percentage is still one of the top five projections for the remainder of the 2017 season.
On the other hand, one could argue that the Astros strong start isn’t a surprising development.
After all, this team was designed to win. Whenever you have players in the ilk of Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers, Jose Altuve, Dallas Keuchel and George Springer, you are expected to win more games than most teams.
Then you have the various additions to the club this past offseason that has surrounded this young core with a solid supporting cast. The acquisitions of Charlie Morton and Brian McCann especially are starting to look like steals for Houston.
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All in all, it shouldn’t shock you that the Astros are playing well. But I think it is fair to say that we didn’t expect a 25-11 start heading into today’s doubleheader against the New York Yankees. It would be rather unwise to expect this current pace of winning to continue. But say if they continue .550-plus winning percentage till the end of the season, then you are possibly looking at one of the top five teams in baseball by seasons end.
**Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Reference**