Finally, the Houston Astros get a little due respect heading into the 2021 MLB Postseason. Albeit petty at this point, there seems to still be some lingering hard feelings surrounding the Astros involvement with sign-stealing.
For those that have moved on, it’s more of “what have you done for me lately?” type of mentality. The Astros offense certainly cooled off in the later part of the season. Folks just tend to lean on what is on top of mind.
Yet, the Astros proved once again that they are the most complete offense in Major League Baseball when you consider the body of work in their 2021 campaign. MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince recognized the Astros by ranking them number one on his Top 10 Lineups Rankings.
The Astros rank No.1 on MLB.com’s best lineups in the postseason:
1. Houston Astros
2. Tampa Bay Rays
3. Boston Red Sox
4. Chicago White Sox
5. Los Angeles Dodgers
6. San Francisco Giants
7. New York Yankees
8. Atlanta Braves
9. St. Louis Cardinals
10. Milwaukee Brewers
Unlike a lot of rankings and lists we’ve seen lately, Castrovince does a great job adding some actual nuance to his ranking, providing a little breakdown for each team.
Specifically for the Astros, he points to where the team ranks amongst competitors in the majors this season. The team finished the season first in runs scored and wRC+. They were second in wOBA and OPS. The ball club also finished ninth in home runs.
He also points to the fact that while Bregman and Brantley missed a decent amount of time at various points this season, the core of the team – Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Yordan Alvarez, Yuli Gurriel and Kyle Tucker – never really faltered, all of them sporting OPS ratings of .800 plus.
A lot of casual fans around the league tend to look at the Astros and assume that all the runs they score come exclusively from big time power hitters, especially with Yordan Alvarez at the heart of the order. We should all know to not judge a book by its cover though.
The Astros certainly have some guys who can get into the ball. However, the team puts an emphasis on working at-bats until they get their pitch to hit. As Castrovince points out in his blurb on the Astros, they have Major League Baseball’s lowest strikeout percentage; something they’ve achieved in four of the last five seasons.
Approaching each game like this puts opposing pitchers through a meat grinder on the way to a solid outing. It runs up pitch counts and changes the overall game strategy for the opposing manager.
The dark horse reason on why the Astros have the best lineup in baseball for the 2021 MLB Postseason is how well-constructed bench options are right now. Aledmys Diaz, Jason Castro, Chas McCormick have proven to wildly effective as pinch-hitters.
If you had a chance to read Marty Coleman’s recent Astros Bytes, you would know that Castro slashes .296/.424/.406 with three doubles, four runs-batted-in and six walks over 35 plate appearances in late inning/close score situations. Given how past postseason series have went for the Astros, Castro’s newfound, clutch hitting will be critical for a deep run in the playoffs.
The Astros’ offense will be put to the test in the American League Division Series against the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox will call on Lance Lynn to take the mound in Game 1 on Thursday, October 7th at 3.07pm CT.