2018 Houston Astros Opening Lines
'Houston Strong' In 2017
What more can be said? 2017 was Houston's year. Their regular season was spectacular, amassing 101 wins to only 61 losses. It was their first 100 win season since 1998.
Their great offense was recognized, as it was the first time in their history that three Astros were named starters for the American League in the All-Star Game.
Those three were Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and George Springer, each instrumental in guiding their team through the playoffs offensively. Pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr. also made the team. The aforementioned Altuve, batting .485 in July, earned the fifth highest average in a single month sisce 1961, and broke a record for his team.
The tragedy of Hurricane Harvey brought the Houston Astros and city together with the "Houston Strong" slogan, and it certainly gave the team the extra drive needed to push for the limit, even deep into the postseason. After beating the Red Sox 3-1 in the ALDS, the 'Stros had difficulty with the Yankees in the ALCS, which went to seven games. The World Series against the Dodgers was one of the most exciting in recent year, and it also went the distance, but eventually culminated with the Astros being crowned World Series Champions.
The Astros in 2018
The Astros will be entering 2018 as defending champions for the first time in their history. Despite their difficulties closing out the ALCS and World Series, this Astros team is looking to be very similar to last year's squad, and believe it or not, they might do even better.
One major reason is that Justin Verlander will be available all season long instead of just the last half, barring an injury of course. The former All-Star has seemingly been revitalized since coming over to the 'Stros, and his dominant play in the postseason no doubt secured the title for his new team. Not only that, but Keuchel, McCullers Jr, and Charlie Morton have all been excellent in clutch spots.
In terms of offense, what more is there to say? Their .282 batting average in the regular season was the best in the league with 1581 hits, and they've also struck out the least, with only 1087 K's against them. Altuve is coming off another 200 hit season, with an OBP of .410 and isn't looking to slow down. Carlo Beltran is retiring, but that just leaves more space for the team to stay younger longer.
Astros Lines To Win Their Division
Considering the Astros got over 100 wins in the 2017 campaign, it shouldn't be too difficult for them to win the division again with a bye in the postseason.
The American League West Division is notoriously weak now that the Angels and Mariners aren't competitors anymore. None of the other teams in the division even hit the .500 mark. So even if Houston has an 85-win year, which would be underachieving, they'll still most likely be safe.
Astros Lines to Win the World Series
The current futures odds on Houston to win the World Series is +500. They're currently favored to repeat over any other single team. It's a significant change from last year, where they were +1400 during the offseason. Is there value at this price though?
Astros Early Prediction for 2018
With the easy access to the playoffs, the Astros should be able to go deep again this year. Depending on who their opponents are, they shouldn't have too much trouble in the ALCS like they did with the Yankees, and no matter who represents the NL, we should be in store for another entertaining World Series if Houston's involved. We can only hope.
We touched on their potent offense and starting pitchers like Verlander, but the one area where they lack consistency is their bullpen. We saw those problems firsthand against the Dodgers. If they can patch that up, they should be well worth the +500. Wade Davis as a closer might be just what the doctor ordered.
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