Astros: Chatting with Karl Ravech on who is the best in the AL

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 01: Carlos Correa #1 of the Houston Astros and George Springer #4 celebrate after the final out against the Boston Red Sox at Minute Maid Park on June 1, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 01: Carlos Correa #1 of the Houston Astros and George Springer #4 celebrate after the final out against the Boston Red Sox at Minute Maid Park on June 1, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

The Houston Astros are in the middle of a tough stretch versus the best that the American League has to offer.

The Astros have faced the Indians twice, then the Yankees in New York, and they are now facing the Red Sox this weekend. Then they will face the Mariners who currently sit second in the AL West next week. This is a rough stretch for any team, but the team is still 37-22. Some may feel like the Astros have fallen a notch behind the Yankees (36-17) and Red Sox (39-19) based on winning percentage.

That is not the case according to Astros fans and ESPN’s Karl Ravech. This morning, I was able to chat with Ravech in anticipation of another ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game this week. If you are at the game Sunday night, don’t be surprised to see Matt Vasgersian, Alex Rodriguez, and Jessica Mendoza sitting in the Crawford Boxes.

They will be broadcasting live from the seats. According to Ravech, this gives them a different point of view. This way they can interact with the fans while they are broadcasting on ESPN. You may hear them start screaming when a ball is hit into the Crawford Boxes. This gives them a change of pace so you know I will be watching on Baseball Tonight and then the broadcast on ESPN with first pitch at 6:35 pm CST.

Are they the best team in the AL?

Now that I got the promo out of the way let’s get back to what Ravech had to say. I asked him if the Astros were the best team in the American League? Earlier, I had asked him what he thought about the Astros rotation. His first response was breaking out laughing, in a good way. He said that this rotation could be historically good if they stay healthy. As much as you try to compare rotations from the past, this could be a top-five rotation ever.

Because of the Astros rotation, he thinks the Astros are heads above the other teams. The Red Sox and Yankees will have to add some pieces to the rotation at the deadline, but the Astros need a bullpen piece. He doesn’t feel like the Astros are underachieving this year, but said there are peaks and valleys to a season. If the Astros are mediocre right now with a 37-22 record, then they will win the World Series.

To err is to be human.

These players are human, cough, Ken Giles. They will make a deal to improve the bullpen at the deadline. Like many other people, he was quick to point out that one of their starters would be excellent in the bullpen in the playoffs. He never clarified who he was talking about, but I’m assuming it was Lance McCullers.

If you have watched some of the recent press conferences after the game with AJ Hinch, you can tell he’s getting annoyed with the bullpen bashing. I mentioned this to Ravech, and he said that could be Hinch throwing hints out to management to get something done. However, he doesn’t see the Astros going after anything other than bullpen help.

As it stands now, the Stros still have a run differential of +129, which is higher than the Yankees (+75) and the Red Sox (+83). The Yankees and Red Sox have a higher winning percentage, with the Yankees having played six fewer games this season. Fangraphs has all three teams winning 99+ games this year. The Astros are also projected for a 238 run differential for the season, which is a crazy number.

The run differential tells a different number.

The Stros’ Pythagorean W-L total before last night’s win was 43-15, while their actual record was 36-22. That’s seven fewer wins than expected, meaning they have had some bit of bad luck. Ravech believes that the Astros will face the Nationals in the World Series this year. Yes, they have struggled versus the Yankees this year. They have won the first two games versus the Red Sox, beating Drew Pomeranz and Chris Sale.

Next: Astros trade speculation: Kelvin Herrera and Jon Jay package?

The Astros roster is so deep that it can withstand an injury here and there. No team can match what the Astros can run out there. All the Astros can do is beat whoever they play that night. The rest will work itself out. My guess is that there will be a little more separation of the three teams at the end of July. Can’t wait to see Justin Verlander face the Red Sox tonight. Ravech says that Verlander lives for big games like this.

***Stats from Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs***