Just passed the halfway post the Houston Astros are 48-36, desperately clinging to a three-game lead in the division and wobbling after a series of injuries to the everydays, the bullpen and the rotation culminating in the loss of George Springer, their heart, soul and dance instructor. They are currently on a pace for 92 and a fraction wins and there are probably very few fans who would not take that number right now vs. what results they expect in the second half of the season.
If they finished 92-70 they will have pulled off a wonderful 22-game improvement over 2014 (70-92) and an even more impressive 41 game improvement over 2013 (51-111). But historically what will that likely mean for the pursuit of a playoff spot in the very competitive American League and specifically the AL West division?
Be forewarned that historical stats are not necessarily predictors of future performance (blah, blah for investors) and your mileage may vary, etc. But looking back over the last ten seasons, here is what 92 wins would have bought the Astros.
- Between 2005 and 2014, 92 wins would have won the AL West only once out of ten times. The Rangers during their first run to the World Series won the West in 2011 with only 90 wins.
- During the same time frame, 92 wins would have been good for one of the two wild card spots eight of those ten seasons. Double note here: First, before 2012 there was only one wild card, so this is based on the record of the team that would have been the second wild card in those earlier seasons. Second, the Tampa Rays were the second wild card with 92 wins in 2013, but only had 92 wins because they won a playoff game against the Rangers to make it into those playoffs.
- 90 wins would have gotten the Astros into the playoffs about 70% of the time. 88 wins would have been good 30% of the time.
The bottom line is that if the Astros win at their current pace, they will likely only make the playoffs as a wild card team. If they play .500 the rest of the way they have a 20% or less chance of making the playoffs as the second wild card.
Now, before getting depressed by all of this, remember:
- In 2014, the Astros were 10 games back in the division by May 9th (36th game of the season) and after 84 games they were 36-48 and 16 games back.
- In 2013, the Astros were 10.5 games back by May 3rd (30th game of the season) and after 84 games they were 30-54 and 19 games back.
- In 2012, the Astros were 10.5 games back by June 16th (65th game of the season) and after 84 games they were 32-52 and 14.5 games back.
The point being that even though there is potential heart ache this season at least the team is in full contention and playing very important games in the month of July, rather than falling off the radar in May and June in previous seasons.
Based on what you see above, do you believe:
- The Astros should make trades to give them a better chance to make the playoffs this season?
- Stand pat and not hurt their future for an uncertain present?
- Dip lightly in the trade game to pick up a piece to bridge through the injuries?
- Trade off pieces by the trade deadline (Feldman, Carter, Rasmus, Qualls, etc) who will not be part of the future?