The Astros are not done.
After 55 years, the Houston Astros finally got the monkey off their back. They did it excitingly too. A team that’s been through a rebuild for the better part of 7 years had a great return on investment. This wasn’t a fluke, and this wasn’t a dream come true. This team is the product of hard work, focus, and determination.
This is a dynasty in the making. Back to backs are hard enough in baseball to predict but here are five reasons why I think the Astros will be the first team to repeat since the early 2000’s Yankees.
The darling that the Astros lured here with seconds left on the trade block will be here for two more seasons. A clear ace who revived this team going 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA and setting up the Astros for a postseason run of the ages went 4-1 in in that frame with a 2.21 ERA. We get two full seasons of that. Jose Altuve said it best.
"“I literally love Justin Verlander. The way he goes out there, it made me feel like I have to go out there and play the same way he’s doing it. I know he’s going out there and doing everything he can to win this game, so everybody in the lineup wants to support him, want to score runs for him because we know the kind of guy he is.” – Altuve via CBS."
Chilling, right? We literally love you also, Justin.
Did you see what Charlie Morton did in 4 relief innings in Game 7? The journeyman found a home in Houston. He had his best season going 14-7 with a 3.62 ERA this season. Dallas Keuchel (16-7) and Lance McCullers Jr. (8-4) are only getting better. That’s a solid four-man rotation. They may need to find another man for depth purposes, but the American League has been put on notice with these arms.
The most dangerous lineup in baseball had its moments in the postseason and struggled in away games but came through when they needed them the most on the road in the biggest moment in all sports. From Springer to Reddick these bats are scary. No one is batting under .240 in the regular season, and no one in the MLB strikes out less than the Orange Crushers. The Astros are first in runs with 896, second in home runs and average .282 collectively as a team in the regular season which is good for first place.
They struck out the least in 2017 with 1087 strikeouts and had the most hits with 1581. This lineup will be intact for the 2018 season. The farm system is deep too. They did trade away a few prospects to get Verlander, but keep an eye on Kyle Tucker, Forrest Whitley, J.B. Bukaukas and Derek Fisher, just to name a few. The Astros can scout, and their farm system could easily creep back into the top 10 this season.
He’s only getting better. Entering his 8th season, Altuve is coming off his best season to date carrying with him four straight 200 hit seasons there is no end in sight for this 5’6’’ monster. An MVP hopeful is the centerpiece of this team. He can get on base. It’s scary to know that Correa is behind him.
Altuve’s OBP this season is .410 and has only risen year over year. He can do it all including back to back 24 home run campaigns. With him, in the lineup as the heart and soul of the team, he is pound for pound the most dangerous hitter on the team.
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
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- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
Houston has emerged as a destination for free agents. Who wouldn’t want to play here? The Astros are losing Carlos Beltran, Francisco Liriano, Cameron Maybin, Luke Gregerson and Tyler Clippard this offseason and possibly getting younger.
While they might be set up in the hitting department, the Astros need help in the bullpen which is arguably their only flaw. They won the World Series with a weak bullpen, just imagine how much more dangerous they would be with a strong bullpen. Some names that available.
Wade Davis (a scary good closer)
Yu Darvish (Yes, he got rocked by our line up, but this time he won’t have to face us)
That’s just a few names in what could be a crazy free agent bidding war this offseason. The perk? The Astros are World Series champions, who wouldn’t want to come here?
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***