5 reasons the Astros defied the odds and won the AL West

The race for the AL West division championship came down to Game 162, with the Astros coming out on top. Let's look at the five reasons the Astros ran down the Rangers to win their sixth-straight division title.
Houston Astros v Arizona Diamondbacks
Houston Astros v Arizona Diamondbacks / Chris Coduto/GettyImages
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Reason #2: The Leverage Arms

Hector Neris and Bryan Abreu, take a bow. Anytime Houston had a lead this year, those two made sure it was game over.

Neris finishes the season with a 2.5 bWAR, 1.71 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 10.1 K/9. Anytime Dusty summoned Neris out of the bullpen, whether it was a clean inning or a bases-loaded jam he was inheriting, it felt like Neris was guaranteed to get out of the jam without surrendering any damage.

His exuberance motivates the team, and when he struck out Julio Rodriguez and talked trash in the penultimate series of the year, it felt like that finally woke the team up. What a walk year for Neris.

Bryan Abreu can be summed up in one word: untouchable. He wraps up his 2023 with a 2.5 bWAR as well, a 1.75 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP, and 12.5 K/9. Abreu hasn't allowed a run since July 15th, an almost unfathomable stretch of 27 straight scoreless appearances.

He finished the second half with a 0.31 ERA. Abreu should be a prime extension candidate this offseason.

Those two especially were dynamite, and Ryan Pressly was again a great closer and Kendall Graveman was fantastic as an Astro. Their bullpen as a whole wasn't as dominant as last season, but the leverage arms are a massive part of why the Astros are division champs.