Astros: Three players trending up with the AL West title on the line

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HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 27: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros is congratulated by Carlos Correa #1 after scoring in the third inning against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park on August 27, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 27: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros is congratulated by Carlos Correa #1 after scoring in the third inning against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park on August 27, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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With 31 games left, the Astros seem to have their swagger back. For now, anyway.

The Astros are sole possessors of first place in the AL West over the Athletics by 2.5 games. At 81-50, they are thirty-one games above .500 and on pace to finish 101-61. As injuries struck the team with a mighty blow, the race for the division title was a little too close for comfort in recent weeks. The defending champs rallied and some unlikely heroes stepped up huge as these guys slowly come off the disabled list one by one.

The Astros are 7-3 in their last ten games wrapping up a sweep of the Angels this weekend heading into Monday. Sweeping a division rival is huge, but the Athletics remain in contention as Houston and Oakland square off for three straight games. Thankfully for Houston, the Astros came out on top in the first game. This bout will mark the final series between these two, so I don’t have to tell you how crucial the potential for separation is for the good guys in this spot.

Nonetheless, there is still a month of baseball left to play and thanks to these three offensive players prior to Monday’s game for holding down the fort and remaining atop the division. The lineup has slowly come back to life and the Astros appear to have their swagger back. [Insert Dream Crusher’s home run stare here.]

Trending Up: Marwin Gonzalez

This super utility player has had his moments all season. But when the team so desperately needed offense, Gonzalez came through. In his last six games, he has seen 26 at-bats and connected on ten hits for a team high .385 batting average in that span. He’s done it all. Gonzalez has also smashed three dingers and drove in ten runs. Yes, ten, including a grand slam to boost the offense and get Dallas Keuchel some much needed run support. His line also includes three doubles, six runs scored and he is taking a seven-game hit streak into this week’s crucial match-up with the Athletics.

Much of last season’s success was credited to Gonzalez’s career year last year. Obviously the ‘Stros were hoping he can replicate it this season. After getting off to a slow start, Gonzalez has showed up when the team needed it most. The left-fielder has certainly caught lightening in a bottle. They will need his continued success to carry them through September and beyond.

Trending Up: Jose Altuve

No way Altuve returns from the DL without skipping a beat, right? What did you expect from the reigning AL MVP? In his five games back, the second baseman had twenty plate appearance and seven hits to show for with a .350 batting average. A few weeks ago, the Astros offense was famished. Now, I can’t find anyone on the roster that hasn’t produced.

Altuve makes the list because after a what seemed like an eternity stint on the DL, he came back roaring. Seven hits, one double, one home run and three RBI and a stolen base, Jose is back in form just in time to wrap this division up and chase another title. The heart and soul of this team is back.

Trending Up: Alex Bregman

Bregman will be one of the premier faces of baseball, sooner than later. The former second-overall pick from LSU has brought some fire to this clubhouse. Since the All-Star break, Bregman has been a .267 hitter. In his last six games, Bregman has seen 23 at-bats and connected on eight balls for a .348 average. This past week the roster has produced five .300 or better hitters. The third baseman stands out because of his consistency.

His weekly line includes eight hits, two doubles, two RBI, and four walks with no strikeouts. His OBP is .444 in the last six and .387 on the season before Monday’s showing. Bregman is the runs leader in the clubhouse with 86, he is second only behind Altuve in hits with 138. He has the most double (40), most home runs (24), and most RBI (79) on the team. He has also notched the most walks with 75 getting on base as much as he can one way or another.

Next. Astros face a big test versus the second place Athletics at home. dark

An MVP candidate in the making, this kid brings firepower, swagger and heart that fits in perfectly with the group of guys in this locker room. Thank goodness he dyed his hair back to its natural color, though.

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