Houston Astros: The path to winning the American League West
These are all grown men wearing their big-boy pants, but it will be tough to focus strictly on baseball with the scrutiny and heckling the Astros are going to face all season long. These MLB superstars aren’t ones to shy away from the media or spotlight, but up until recently they have been seen as heroes. Now they’ve lived long enough to become the villains.
Recent health concerns have caused the MLB to change clubhouse policy regarding the media, but even without the media in the clubhouse, the Astros are going to see a constant flow of questions about the scandal and comparisons to playing now versus playing during the scandal years.
The hardest part will be fan interaction, however minimal it may be. Up until this year, there haven’t been many reasons not to like the Astros other than they win a lot. This year, every single win will be questioned by fans of other teams and those fans will voice it at ballgames.
With as much negativity that is going to follow this Houston team around all season long, focusing on what’s happening between the white lines will be paramount. As a wise philosopher once said, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”
Health is a factor in winning for any team. A team needs its best players on the field to provide the best on-field product, that is a given. The Houston Astros are no different than any other team in this aspect.
Spring Training has yet to come to an end and the first injury has already hit the Astros. Justin Verlander has been bitten by the injury bug, as a lat strain has hindered his spring and it looks like he won’t be ready for the beginning of the season. Luckily this injury will need rest and not surgery and Verlander should be ready to go by early April.
On the offensive side, Yordan Alvarez has had a hard time keeping his knee healthy. This injury prevented him from playing the field at times last season, and could take a toll on his offensive production. We can only hope it is just lingering soreness that subsides with time and there isn’t a larger underlying issue.
Outside of these two players, the roster has been fairly injury-free this spring, not counting the illness that was passed around the clubhouse. This relative health needs to continue on into the regular season.
Injuries happen, as it is a long season in the world of baseball, so it is just as much about how a team responds to an injury as it is staying healthy. In 2019 when the biggest names on the Astros were nursing injuries, Alex Bregman really stepped up and became the man during this time.
The health of a team is very important, and the Astros will need to keep their star players on the field. The fewer number of innings the team has to dip into their depth for a rotation or position spot, the chances of winning the West again grows.