2018 Houston Astros: 103-59 (.635 Winning percentage)
AL West Division Champions. Second best record in American League, second best in all of baseball. 797 Runs Scored. 534 runs allowed. End of Season: American League Championship Series Loss in Five Games to Boston Red Sox.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that this team actually had more wins than 2017. It’s a combination of the fact that they ended up having the worst result of any Golden Era Astros team losing in five frustrating games to the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS.
But also because the offense was very inconsistent, scoring 10 runs one game followed by getting shut out the next. Sound familiar?
This team closely resembles the 2022 Houston Astros as pitching was their calling card. The team had its first year with the two headed monster of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole at the top of their rotation following their trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
One of the more impressive things is that this team’s Pythagorean Expected Win-Loss given their run differential of 263 was 109, a win better than the 108 the 2018 Boston Red Sox posted.
It was fitting that this Astros team underachieved in the Win-Loss column as they also underachieved in the postseason given the fact that their rotation was Verlander, Cole, Charlie Morton, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr.
The similarities between these two teams is eery as the 2022 Astros have struggled with consistency on offense though a large part of that is due to the struggles of Yuli Gurriel, the loss of Michael Brantley and the gaping hole offensively at both catcher and center field.
The 2022 Astros are on pace for the lowest offensive output of any Golden Era Astro team while their pitching staff is about to post the best pitching numbers in the Golden Era as they’ve scored 704 runs so far and given up 497 runs.
The pitching would have to give up 37 more runs over the next eight games which would be an average of 4.63 runs. That seems unlikely given the fact that they’ve averaged 3.22 runs allowed per game and three of those games are against a Tampa Bay Rays team they held to two runs over three games just last week.
Where the 2022 team ends up is still to be seen. Despite the final result not being all that impressive, this 2018 team ran into a buzz saw that was the 108 win Boston Red Sox. The infamous fan interference home run call in game four of the ALCS that took away a two run homer from the Astros was a tide turner in the series. The Astros ended up losing that game by a margin of two runs and if the Astros win that game it’s a 2-2 series going into game five with Verlander and Cole scheduled to pitch the next two games.
While the 2022 Astros bullpen is better than the 2018 one that involved the controversial trade to get Roberto Osuna, the rotation of Verlander, Cole and Morton against the 2022 offense would be stifling.
It would be neck and neck but if my arm is twisted 2018 has the slight edge on 2022.