Anytime a baseball team wins 101 games out of a 162-game season, it is worthy of warm, fuzzy feelings.
I have no qualms claiming the Astros’ 2017 season as a modest success. I am actually ecstatic to see the Astros win 101 games. After all, Houston won only 51 games in 2013. Basic math but the 2017 iteration nearly doubled the win total of arguably the lowest point in franchise history.
The success transcends the overall record, though. For example, Jose Altuve is in the running for AL MVP for a second year in a row. Depending on your WAR preference, Altuve leads all of baseball with an 8.1 oWAR found at Baseball Reference. In fact, the Astros have eight, yes, eight, batters with an oWAR of at least 2.5.
Back to Altuve and the historical importance of his offensive contributions for a moment.
The Astros’ diminutive in stature, not skill, star second baseman has obviously been one of the best players this season. No, actually the past few seasons. But his 2017 metrics stand out. Courtesy of the Play Index by Baseball Reference, Altuve’s 2017 oWAR, which was 8.1, ranks 162nd in baseball history. While some may not view that as impressive, it should be to a certain extent once you realize the context. And the context is this: Baseball has been played since 1876. 18,853 players have partakes in this game at the major league level. And Altuve ranks amongst the top in best offensive production by this metric.
This Astros’ offensive power may very well be the key to postseason success. For example, the lineup in Game 1 of the ALDS is not to be treaded upon lightly.
The question now becomes what Houston can accomplish in the postseason. 11 wins are needed to win it all. If this occurs, this will go down as the most successful team in franchise history. If not, the 2017 Astros will be remembered as one of the top two-to-three teams in franchise history. The ALDS is where the difference begins.
**Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Reference**