5 Reasons The Astros Remain a World Series Contender

While they've performed somewhat below expectations, the Astros still are a World Series favorite. Let's look at five reasons why.
Houston Astros v Miami Marlins
Houston Astros v Miami Marlins / Megan Briggs/GettyImages
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For the first time in a full season of their Golden Era, the Astros are in unfamiliar territory halfway through August. They trail the Rangers by 3.5 games in the AL West, and while some may say the sky is falling over (justified) lineup complaints and a subpar catcher, they still are a serious threat to win the World Series.

Though it's been a bumpier ride than usual, the Astros feel inevitable every October. Let's take a look at five reasons why the Astros remain a contender to win the World Series and become the first repeat champions since 2000.

#1: The Astros remain a favorite because they've been there before.

So much of baseball is analytical now. Stats like xBA, xwOBA, FIP and Stuff+ are all the rage. And those are incredibly valuable stats. But there is still something to be said about "feel" and "the human element" in the game of baseball.

Some of the best pitchers and hitters to ever live shrink when the lights are brightest. And some that have been underperformed rise to the occassion when the pressure is on. Look no further than what Jeremy Peña and Yuli Gurriel did for the Astros last October compared to what Aaron Judge did after his 61 home run regular season.

Throughout their reign, the Astros always seem to rise to the moment. The 2020 team finished the short season under .500 and still almost pulled off a comeback from down 3-0 in the ALCS. In 2021, an injury depleted team still had a shot at winning their second World Series in five years. And last year, down 2-1 in the World Series, they put together a combined no-hitter on the road and won three straight for their second title.

These Astros have continually met the moment while other contenders in the same window (Yankees and Dodgers) have repeatedly fallen short.

Much of the Rays roster hasn't been there before, and definitely not in a full season. The Rangers rotation is much improved, but Max Scherzer has struggled in the recent playoff history, and how will names like Adolis Garcia handle the pressures of October? The Blue Jays absolutely melted down last year in the Wild Card round against Seattle. The Orioles are great, but is their young core ready for the moment?

Now, that's not to say any one of those teams are incapable of rising to the occasion. But the Astros have proven that they answer the bell. This year, Houston is 15-10 this season against the Orioles, Rays, Braves, Dodgers, and Rangers. Against the five best records in baseball, the Astros are winning games at a 97-game clip.

When it's time to go, the Astros always find a way to go.