Astros News

Astros AM Breakdown: 81 games down, 81 games to go

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HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 26: Brian McCann #16 of the Houston Astros shakes handswith Hector Rondon #30 after the final out against the Toronto Blue Jays at Minute Maid Park on June 26, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 26: Brian McCann #16 of the Houston Astros shakes handswith Hector Rondon #30 after the final out against the Toronto Blue Jays at Minute Maid Park on June 26, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Half of the season is now officially over for the Astros. The next 81 games are going to be interesting.

If you go strictly by the number of games played, the second half of the season for the Astros starts on Wednesday. And, yes, I am ignoring the All-Star break as the “official” determining factor for the two halves. Honestly, it never made sense to call games following the All-Star break as the second half. When you have a number, like 162 games, that can easily be halved, then it should be easy enough to figure out.

But I digress.

The Astros have a 53-28 record heading into the next 81 games of the season with a +173 run differential. The third-best record in baseball, which is quite good. The run differential is easily the best in baseball. In terms of franchise history, the 2018 Astros have the second-best record in their history through 81 games.

Yes, the only team better than the 2018 Astros was the 2017 championship squad. Again, quite good. And this year’s team is on pace to finish the season with 106 wins, which would be a franchise-best.

If you check FanGraphs, Houston currently has a 100% chance of making the postseason. Of the 100% chance, 98.2% as the possible AL West winner and 1.8% in a Wild Card spot. The Astros also possess the highest probability of winning the World Series at 25.2%. Although these probabilities are not set in stone, the numbers indicate that Houston’s professional baseball club is in a good spot heading into the “unofficial” second half.

For actual results, the Astros are positioned favorably in numerous categories. Let’s break them down.

Astros by the numbers, first 81 games of the 2018 season

Team Batting

  • 117 wRC+ (1st)

  • .336 wOBA (3rd)

  • 102 home runs (8th)

  • 156 doubles (5th)

  • 290 walks (7th)

  • 634 strikeouts (23rd)

  • 419 runs (1st)

  • 16.3 fWAR (1st)

Starting Rotation

  • 506.1 innings pitched (1st)

  • 2.88 ERA (1st)

  • 3.32 FIP (1st)

  • 580 strikeouts (1st)

  • 20.9% strikeout minus walk rate (1st)

  • 1.01 HR/9 (26th)

  • 11.1 fWAR (1st)

Bullpen

  • 225.2 innings pitched (29th)

  • 2.67 ERA (2nd)

  • 2.65 FIP (2nd)

  • 23.9% strikeout minus walk rate (1st)

  • 0.76 HR/9 (27th)

  • 4.4 fWAR (2nd)

Overall, it is no surprise to see why the Astros have a 53-28 record. Across numerous categories, they have been one of the best teams in baseball. The lineup, especially in recent weeks, has been one of the best in baseball. The pitching staff, particularly the starting rotation, has been the best in baseball. And while the bullpen can still use a bit of fine-tuning, the relief corps have been one of the more dependable units in baseball. Again, one of the best teams in baseball. End of story.

Looking ahead to the next 81 games, Houston does have quality competition in the AL West this season. The Mariners are only 3 1/2 games back for the division lead while the Angels and Athletics have performed relatively well all season long. And the Rangers have also played better baseball as of late. In short, the Astros will need to play well over the next 81 games. A prolonged slump in the second half wouldn’t be necessarily fatal to the team, but there is less room for error than there was last season. Then there is the race for best record in the AL, which guarantees home-field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS.

Houston Astros News and Notes From Around FanSided

Jake Marisnick silences his critics offensively and defensively [Climbing Tal’s Hill – Eric Huysman]

Houston Astros: Players that deserve to be All-Stars this year [Call To The Pen – Kyle Cardoza]

More Houston Astros and General Baseball News From Around the Internet

‘Incredibly dominant’ Morton fans 13 in 10th win [Houston Chronicle – Christian Boutwell]

MLB Power Rankings: Houston Astros remain at the top [CBS Sports – Chris Hassel]

How Best To Predict the Season’s Second Half [FanGraphs – Jeff Sullivan]

Next: Astros: If you’re seeking bullpen help, look at Blake Treinen

We hope you enjoyed this edition of the Astros AM Breakdown.

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