Astros: A healthier team in 2019 could make all the difference?

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HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 05: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros celebrates with Carlos Correa #1 after hitting a solo home run against Corey Kluber #28 of the Cleveland Indians in the fifth inning during Game One of the American League Division Series at Minute Maid Park on October 5, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 05: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros celebrates with Carlos Correa #1 after hitting a solo home run against Corey Kluber #28 of the Cleveland Indians in the fifth inning during Game One of the American League Division Series at Minute Maid Park on October 5, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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The Houston Astros set a franchise record in 2018 for the most wins in a season, ending the year with a 103-59 record. Can that milestone be beaten this year?

Late September last year, Manager A. J. Hinch got his players together after the game to congratulate the team for their 103rd win of the season. That beat the 20-year-old record of 102 wins accomplished by the Astros in 1998. Although they did fall short of their ultimate goal, earn another World Series ring, no one is more aware of that than Hinch.

"“When you set a franchise record for wins and people ask you, ‘What happened?’ at the end of the year, that’s a unique question.” said A. J. Hinch"

Their slogan last season was “Never Settle” and believe me, they aren’t going to settle one bit. Hence, this year’s slogan, “Take it Back”. They are very determined this Spring and feel they have a lot to prove. Can they possibly top last season’s 103 wins? To eclipse that record, the stars may have to be aligned just right, but a healthier team would go a long way.

If the Astros can avoid the health issues that plagued the team last year, the sky is the limit. A few key batters in Houston’s line-up played through portions of last season with some type of pain or discomfort, and just never seemed to be the same once they returned.

Jose Altuve played a majority of the second half of the season with a knee injury after nearly a month on the DL. He had surgery this past October to repair a fractured kneecap. The effect of the injury was obvious when comparing the first and second halves of the season. His slash line went from .332/.394/.470 down to .276/.364/.400 and also experienced a drop in power and speed.

Carlos Correa was another player that sustained an injury in the first half of the season and was never the same once he returned. Due to a back injury, Correa was out from the end of June to the middle of August. His numbers dropped significantly after coming off the DL, slashing .268/.352/.480 in the first half of the season compared to .180/.261/.256 the second half.

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On top of this, starting catcher Brian McCann missed two months of the season after undergoing knee surgery in July. For the Astros to still win 103 games, while enduring these health issues is pretty amazing. Imagine what they could do if healthy all year.

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