Astros starting to create separation in the AL West
The season is still young with only 41 games in the books, but the Astros have developed a nice cushion atop the AL West.
Let’s be honest for a moment: The AL West, outside of Houston, was a bit of an enigma entering the season. Frankly, it still is.
The A’s and Mariners pushed the Astros for the AL West title until late while the Angels put together a nice start to their 2018 season. While Seattle drastically overhauled their roster during the offseason, it wasn’t inconceivable to see Oakland and Los Angeles (Anaheim?) push Houston again in 2019. Also, the Rangers have been a proverbial thorn in the Astros’ side for some time. While the Astros are the favorites to win the AL West again, it is far from a given that it would be easy. The current season is roughly 25 percent finished, so there is still some time for the situation to change.
Personally, I think the 2017 season spoiled a lot of fans, myself included. Houston, after all, had the division on lock down by mid-June. Heck, I was feeling confident about their chances in mid-May while watching them play the Marlins from my hotel room in Santa Cruz, California two years ago. The 2018 season obviously didn’t unfold in the same way. We quickly found out that winning baseball games is harder than it looks.
However, the 2019 Astros have created a nice cushion atop of the AL West early in the 2019 season. Here is one view by win-loss record and games back.
AL West by win-loss record and games back
- Astros: 26-15, — GB
- Angels: 19-21, 6.5 GB
- Mariners: 20-23, 7.0 GB
- A’s: 19-23, 7.5 GB
- Rangers: 17-21, 7.5 GB
Entering Monday, the Astros have the largest lead over the second-place club in any division by 6.5 games. The largest division lead Houston had last season — 6 games — didn’t occur until September 29, 2018.
Here is another view of the division through the lens of run differential.
AL West by run differential
- Astros: +69
- Angels: -1
- A’s: -7
- Mariners: -14
- Rangers: -3
Right now, the Astros are the best team in the AL West by a fair margin. If the team continues to hit like they’ve been for most of the young season along with quality pitching, then there isn’t a reason why the club should relinquish its current division lead. Of course, the season is still young ,and a lot can change between now and September.