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Comparing the 2017 Astros vs. the 2018 squad, who’s better?

bchancey
HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08: (L-R) Charlie Morton #50 of the Houston Astros, Lance McCullers Jr. #43, Gerrit Cole #45 and Justin Verlander #35 wait to celebrate with the team after defeating the Chicago White Sox 2-1 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08: (L-R) Charlie Morton #50 of the Houston Astros, Lance McCullers Jr. #43, Gerrit Cole #45 and Justin Verlander #35 wait to celebrate with the team after defeating the Chicago White Sox 2-1 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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A brief look at how the 2018 Astros team could be better than it’s 2017 counterpoint who won it all last year.

Some of the names have changed. Not to protect the innocent, but because in professional sports and free agency you rarely have the same cast from year to year. The Houston Astros and everyone else knows, especially after the sixth ring giveaway that the Astros were the World Series Champions in 2017. So why on earth would anyone compare this year’s team to last years team?

I am glad you asked, I will give three reasons why I believe the 2018 team is better than the 2017 team. (This is no way takes away from last year’s team and what they accomplished.)

  1. The addition of key pitchers (both veteran and rookie).
  2. Contributions from more role players this year compared to last year.
  3. Brent Strom

Cole is more.

When Gerrit Cole was added everyone in the baseball world said, “did they just improve the best rotation in baseball?” The answer would be a resounding yes and thus one of the many reasons Strom is number 3 on the list. I will get to that later. Not only is Cole having a career year, but the late additions of Framber Valdez, Josh James as starter types or even long relievers.

They added Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna who have made the back-end of this rotation one of the best in baseball. Verlander has simply had his best strikeout season, and with more run support he might have 20+ wins at this point. Not to mention the Astros have set a record for strikeouts as a pitching staff this season. Others worth mentioning are Tony Sipp and Collin McHugh, who have pulled their own weight and contributed.

Better role players.

Role players in 2017, Marwin Gonzalez and Josh Reddick, had banner years last year. This year you have more contributions coming from more players, and the best thing about it is they all fit in as if they’ve been here ten years. Tony Kemp is more than a t-shirt slogan waiting to happen. He’s credited with “Hugs for Homers” which cemented his spot on this team as a key role player. Fans use the phrase “Kempin’ Ain’t Easy unless you’re the Kemp.” He’s also contributed with his glove and especially his bat. His charisma with fans is eye-catching, and his ability to lift the team with his hugs has been a key component in 2018, that wasn’t there in 2017.

Tyler White is finally hitting at the big league level, hitting walk-off HR’s and simply making contact at the plate. He has hit at every level so why not in the majors.

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A late addition of “The Machete” Martin Maldonado has been a great pick up with the injuries to McCann and while Gattis seems to have been all but removed as a catcher unless needed. Jake Marisnick has contributed despite getting obliterated on social media in his famous slump but proves year in and year out that his glove alone makes him worthy on this team as a defensive role player, don’t forget his speed on the bases. The late wild card of the team is Myles Straw, whom I predict will be this year’s, Derek Fisher. His speed was tops in the minor leagues and he has shown he can fly with the rest of the speedsters in the MLB.

Strommy, maybe I should leave it there?

Let’s talk about it, Cole is clearly having a banner year, and his improvement has amazed. His spin rate on his pitches as well his pitch selection has brought him back to Cy Young chasing form. Valdez as well James have shown great poise, and I predict that Strom has something to do with it. Not only this but to have a guru backing your pitchers and having to navigate injuries. I would say our pitching coaches do a great job.

Next. Astros’ window of contention should be open for quite some time. dark

Looking at these teams side by side, I would have to give the edge to the 2018 Astros according to the points I have made today. One team won in all. The other is in pursuit of going back to back. The regular season record by years end will be a new club record and hopefully will be hoisting another Commissioner’s Trophy. This year’s playoff I think can be just as exciting as last year, as I believe the sky is the limit for the 2018 Houston Astros. The magic number is at two.

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