Repeating as any kind of champion is no cake walk. Who could get in the way of a potential Astros back-to-back in the American League?
The 2018 Major League Baseball Regular Season is here. Very early predictions have the Houston Astros repeating as champions this year. We discussed how back-to-backs in baseball are hard enough, but it can be done. If something/someone were to get in the Astros’ way, who or what could spoil the party?
I have assigned a “Threat Level” to each potential threat. And no, this isn’t Michael Scott’s infamous production for Threat Level Midnight from The Office. But more of a gauge based on strength of schedule, early rankings, offseason moves and predictions. For example, one is no threat at all. Ten is being the most likely to contend the Astros for the AL crown.
Keep your friends close. And your enemies closer?
The first step in repeating a championship is winning your division. The Astros were crowned American League West Divisions Champs convincingly last season by winning the division outright by 21 games, which was the largest difference in baseball last year. They clinched on September 21st and it was their first division title since 2001. Some division races come down to the wire, but that wasn’t the case with the AL West.
Despite the Astros’ projected record, the rest of the AL West is going to be fairly tight. While the Angels are the early favorite, it could be anyone’s race to second place which may award a Wild Card berth. Since early season data has yet to fully stabilize at this point, let’s base part of these threats on the projected runs scored per game and runs allowed per game according to FanGraphs. Again, these numbers are through Sunday’s game.