Houston Astros Magic Number after tough loss to the Orioles

Losing to the Orioles last night wasn't great, but the Astros are still in good shape.
Sep 17, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) hits an RBI
Sep 17, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) hits an RBI / Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Astros lost a tough one to the Orioles last night thanks to a late go-ahead three-run homer from Cedric Mullins in the ninth inning. With the division and wild card races so tight, every win and loss feels more dramatic and impactful. Fortunately for Houston, Seattle hasn't played very well lately and the Rangers are collapsing yet ago and the Astros still hold a 1.5 game lead in the AL West.

With the 2023 season winding down, it is theoretically possible that the Astros could clinch the division in the next week, although it seems more likely that the race could come down to the final days of the season.

Houston Astros Magic Number - 9/19

As of 9/19, the Houston Astros' magic number to win the AL West is 11 against both the Mariners and Rangers who are currently tied for second in the division. While Houston couldn't lower their magic number by themselves last night, the Rangers losing again helped the cause.

Notably, this number doesn't account for tiebreakers which absolutely could matter this year. Houston handily won the season series against the Rangers (which is the tiebreaker), they have also gotten beaten up by the Mariners this season. In short, Houston would vastly prefer the Rangers being the team that stays close in the division over Seattle.

The end result has been that the Astros remain near mortal locks to make it to the playoffs and heavy favorites to win the AL West. Fangraphs puts Houston's playoff odds at 95.3% with a 66.3% chance of winning the division while Baseball-Reference being very similar at 91.7% and 67.3% respectively.

Hopefully the Astros will be able to separate themselves from the pack a bit more with the Royals coming up after this admittedly tough series against Baltimore. However, all signs are pointing to Houston's series against Seattle towards the end of the month as being must-watch games.

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