Despite being one of the most hated teams in Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros are once again having a great season.
Taking away the 2020 shortened season, the Astros have won at least 95 games every year since 2017.
They are well on their way to blowing past that total again this season.
Houston currently sits with a 77-43 record and has the best record in the American League.
They carry the second-best run differential in the AL with a +155.
Yet, this season’s team might be the best one the Astros have had in years.
One reason this is the team to beat in the AL is because of their elite lineup.
The emergence of Yordan Alvarez as an MVP candidate has added another level to the veteran roster that has been there for years.
If you blink you’ll miss this rocket hit by Yordan Álvarez. pic.twitter.com/XWIXr7PyEM
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) August 11, 2022
Alvarez is hitting .297 with 31 home runs and 77 RBI.
He also has an OPS of over 1.000 and the highest WAR on the team with a 4.9.
Kyle Tucker is the other breakout player that has put up huge offensive numbers this season.
The outfielder is hitting .256 with 21 home runs, a team-leading 80 RBI, and 18 stolen bases.
As a whole, this team is second in the AL in runs scored and third in OPS.
They continue to be one of the best hitting teams in baseball but that is not the only reason they are great.
The 39-year-old is coming off of Tommy John surgery and seemingly never missed a beat.
The righty is 15-3 this season with a minuscule 1.95 ERA.
He also has a 4.2 WAR that ranks second amongst all AL starting pitchers.
Even though Verlander has been the best pitcher on the staff, we should not overlook the efforts of Framber Valdez.
Valdez is on an incredible streak right now.
The 28-year-old lefty has recorded 20 straight-quality starts.
That number ties the Astros franchise record.
THIS IS BEAUTIFUL!!!!
20 straight quality starts for Framber Valdez, he ties Mike Scott for most consecutive QS for the Astros pic.twitter.com/JkzITpylKk
— Michael Schwab (@michaelschwab13) August 18, 2022
Thanks to Verlander, Valdez, and the other Astros starters, Houston has the best team ERA in the American League with a 3.05.
Four of the Astros’ five starters have 10 wins, and the highest ERA amongst the five starters is 4.09.
The depth of this pitching staff allows Houston to have an immediate advantage over the rest of the teams in the AL.
Especially, come playoff time when they are playing in five and seven-game series.
The one true contender for the Astros is the New York Yankees.
So far this season the Astros have a 5-2 record against New York.
Making them one of the few teams to have a winning record against the Yankees.
This Houston team has the hitting, pitching, and defense to beat anyone in MLB.
They have run out of gas in the playoffs the last few years but so far this team has shown no sign of slowing down.
While they are still hated by many due to the cheating scandal, it is hard to argue with what they are doing this season.
Now is the time for them to prove they can win the World Series without any asterisks.