Houston Astros 2018 Season Preview By: Peter Snyder

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The Astros magical 2017 season was capped off in a big way, defeating the LA Dodgers in the 2017 Fall Classic in 7 games. This was the organization’s first ever World Series win and this year they are hungry to repeat as champions. This year’s team has the talent to do so as they have returned nearly every starter and have actually made their team better, adding key pieces in the likes of Gerrit Cole. The Astros acquired Cole from the Pirates during the offseason, making their rotation one of the most dangerous you will ever see.  At the one you have the Stros ace Justin Verlander, who was traded to the Stros last summer. He is coming off of an impressive 2017 season finishing with a 15-8 record with a 3.36 ERA. This was then followed with a tremendous postseason by Verlander who was a key piece during the Astros championship run. He is then complimented by one of the best 2’s in all of baseball, Dallas Keuchel whose changeup will literally melt butter. Keuchel had an impressive 2017 campaign, finishing the regular season with a 14-5 record with a 2.90 ERA. He also had a successful  postseason and is looking to continue his success in the 2018 season. Now you place Cole in at the 3 and it is just starting to get unfair at this point. Cole had a subpar season, finishing the year with a .500 record with a sub 4 ERA, but when Cole has his stuff, he is one of the most dangerous pitchers in the game and can never be taken lightly. If you have a 4 game series against this ball club you are bound to face at least one “easy” pitcher, right? Wrong. The Astros punch you right in the throat with Lance McCullers Jr. at the four. This is a young righty who has huge promise and had his coming out party during the 2017 postseason. McCullers Jr. pitched in 5 games, had a 2.61 ERA, was 1-0, and was clutch in key points of crucial ball games when his team needed him the most. I think McCullers is going to have a huge year and think he has the potential to be an All-Star.

With a team that is so talented with their arms you would think that one of their weaknesses would be their offense. For this Astros team however, it is the complete opposite, as their offense is arguably the most dangerous part about this team and that is saying something. They have one of the best infield’s in baseball and have easily the best middle infield in the majors. At shortstop, the Astros have 23-year-old Puerto Rican sensation, Carlos Correa. Correa flashes the leather like no other, swings the stick like it’s his middle name and has emerged as one of the best young ballplayers in all of the majors. Correa’s expectations coming into this season are huge and for good reason as he is coming off of a 24 HR year with a .315 BA. I think Correa will go for 30 HR and 100 Rbis this year and will be in talks for the AL MVP come years end. Complementing Correa at 2B is the reigning AL MVP, Jose Altuve. Altuve is coming off of a career year, batting .346 to go along with 204 hits and 32 stolen bags. Altuve has become the best hitter in baseball and there is no close second. I do not see that changing anytime soon. The Astros star studded infield is capped off with power hitter at the hot corner in Alex Bregman and one of the most controversial players in the 2017 postseason. The Astros outfield is led by George Springer who is expected to have a huge year after hitting 34 HR in 2017.  This offense will just keep punishing you and all 9 batters in this loaded line up can hurt you and in a big way.

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As for a prediction for this team, I think they are the most complete and the most talented team in the major leagues. I don’t think nobody in the AL West will even touch them and could see them winning the division by 20 plus games. I like this ball club finishing the season with an 105-57 record which would signify them as the best team in baseball and would give them the best overall record heading into the postseason. I have them then going on to repeat as World Series Champions on one condition, health. On paper they are just flat out better than everybody else and by a wide margin. Only time will tell with this super team from the lone star state.

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