In baseball, an 162-game season is a marathon, not a sprint. The Astros should know this bit of truth.
As you examine the Astros’ 2017 season up to this point, you will have to call them a first-half team.
Houston has been a first-half team when you look at the numbers.
First half record: 60 W, 29 L, 527 RS, 365 RA, .674 W-L%
Compared to their second half numbers to date, and you can see why I can make such a proclamation.
Second half record: 24 W, 24 L, 238 RS, 234 RA, .500 W-L%
All in all, the Astros have a record of 84-and-53. This is very good. One of the best records in this baseball season today. In fact, the 2017 Astros have already match the win total of the 2016 counterparts.
Unlike the 2017 Astros, the 2016 iteration didn’t have a promising start. Following their horrendous 7-and-17 start to the 2016 season, the Astros went 77-and-61. Not absolutely great, but definitely above-average.
Fast forward to the latest April and the Astros jumped out to a 16-and-9 record. The month of May was even better with a 22-and-7 record. By the time June rolled around, Houston was off to one of the best starts in franchise history.
A strong start, though, isn’t always needed to make the postseason. The 2004 and 2005 Astros are proof of this point. However, these teams were the exception to the rule and not the actual rule. One could even argue that the incredible second-half play both seasons were detrimental to the franchise in later years as the team entered into a noticeable decline. The dream of capturing lightning in a bottle multiple years in a row is not an advisable plan.
A strong start to the season is a key reason why the 2017 Astros have been able to withstand numerous issues. For example, the injuries to Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers and Carlos Correa. Seriously, I would’ve never guessed Houston would be in the position they are currently in if I knew beforehand these guys would miss significant chunks of the season. The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and possibly Hurricane Irma is another set of obstacles that the team still has to overcome.
Going forward, Houston will have to hold off the likes of the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox for home-field advantage throughout the postseason. The additions of Tyler Clippard, Cameron Maybin and Justin Verlander ought to help keep the Astros in a favorable position for the rest of the season. Only time will tell. But if it wasn’t for such a strong start, the team may not even be in the playoff discussion today.
**Statistics and information courtesy of Baseball Reference**