Every year, it becomes more and more confusing as to why people doubt the Houston Astros.
I will admit that I’m guilty of thinking a few months ago that they wouldn’t extend their reign of dominance over the rest of the American League into 2022. 5 straight ALCS appearances is a remarkable feat, and it’s hard to do it a 6th time, especially in the modern age where dynasties have become rarer. Yet, going into the 2022 All-Star break, the team has put themselves in a position to do just that – and possibly more.
The Astros wrapped up their first half with a disappointing series loss at home to the last-place Oakland A’s, but that doesn’t detract from just how outstanding of a season they’ve been having. They boast a record of 59-32, 2nd-best in the AL and 3rd-best in all of baseball, and they entered the break with 4 more wins than they did last season. For a while, their lead on the rest of the AL West was comical, but the Seattle Mariners have emerged from a disappointing start, taking a 14-game winning streak into the Midsummer Classic. The day that winning streak started, the Astros had a 13.5-game lead on 2nd place, which has since shrunk to 9. 14 wins in a row by the 2nd-place team only gained 4.5 games in the standings, which is a testament to how good Houston has been all season.
This 2022 Astros team has star power, depth, an abundance of young homegrown talent, and with the top-seed Yankees being the lone exception, they have placed themselves in a tier separate from the rest of the AL and are a World Series favorite. I’ve assigned each player a letter grade to summarize how I believe their first half went, taking into account the expectations they carried at the start of the year.
As an aside: players who either just recently recovered from injury or were acquired via trade after the quarter mark of the season were not included due to the small sample size. Neither were players who are not on the active roster at the time of writing, whether that be due to demotion to the minors or any reason other than injury.