In the comments to the last post – a good friend of the blog and our in-house island inn-keeper, uncleknuckle (previously known as Daveb) – mentioned that he didn’t think any of us thought this team would be this good. It is a good point.
Look back to where we were before the season started.
- The Astros lost the best shortstop the franchise had ever suited up in Carlos Correa. They were heading into the season, handing the shortstop spot to rookie Jeremy Pena, who had played as many major league games as I had.
- They had lost a faltering Zack Greinke, who had pitched well for most of the season before faltering due to COVID and perhaps an injury down the stretch.
- They did not know when Lance McCullers Jr. would return in 2022 after 2021, where he had been very good until he went down in the playoffs.
- They had to depend on Justin Verlander, who had been great in 2019 but had only pitched 6 innings in 2020 and 2021.
- They were wondering if the huge load put on their younger starters (Framber Valdez, Jose Urquidy, Luis Garcia) in their World Series run in 2021 would cause a hangover in 2022.
- The hole left in their centerfield spot by the loss of George Springer in 2021 had been filled by Myles Straw. Then after the Straw trade, it was filled by a totally unsustainable performance by Jose Siri and by small sample numbers from Chas McCormick and Jake Meyers. There was even more uncertainty with Meyers starting the season on the IL after his shoulder surgery.
- The bullpen had several question marks. Kendall Graveman, Yimi Garcia and Brooks Raley had left after the season (not all of this was negative). Pedro Baez and Rafael Montero were both fighting injuries. Cristian Javier would likely be unavailable for the bullpen as he had to go bandaid the rotation. Was Hector Neris going to fill a high leverage spot, or would he be Pedro Baez 2.0?
So, what did we think back in April…. Well, we do have a record of what at least some of us thought….
OK, not everyone made predictions for the season, but those that did were quite positive – predicting 94-97 wins and an AL West championship. The Astros were on a 106-win pace at the 81-game break, and who the heck would predict that even in the 2018 and 2019 years?
The critical thing is that the Astros have been winning at a terrific pace, even with a few chinks in the armor. As their offense has finally warmed up, they have been even better, and it will be fun to see what they look like heading into the stretch towards another possible playoff appearance.
So, are the Astros living up to your expectations or beyond them?