2017 Houston Astros Preview

On April 1, 2017, in Sporting News, by Buddy TB

Jose Altuve - MLB 2017

In paper, the Houston Astros have everything to compete for a postseason spot, now they just have to go out and earn it.

They have Jose Altuve, the second baseman who in 2016 was the American League batting champion in two of the last three years and is pursuing his third season in a row with at least 200 hits.

They also have Carlos Correa, a 22-year-old shortstop that in 2016 hit.274 had 20 homers, 158 hits, 96 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in his first full year with the team.

Although Correa admitted to be disappointed with those numbers it’s a fact that he is expected to be one of the key players for the Astros and to improve greatly in 2017. His name is mentioned by some pundits as one of the players that could contend to win the Most Valuable Player award.

Not to mention, Carlos Beltran, a reliable veteran who returns to the city where he became an MLB sensation during the 2004 postseason. In 2016, the Puerto Rican had a season with 29 homers, the most since 2012.

Beltran, who will alternate between left field and designated hitter, signed with Houston hoping he can help them reach the postseason. He looks to, if possible, return to the World Series for the first time since 2013 (with Saint Louis), to try and win the championship ring that has eluded him since his debut in 1998.

On the mound the Astros have an always dependable and feisty Dallas Keuchel, winner of the 2015 Cy Young award.

In 2016, the Astros also thought they had a postseason worthy team, but they stumbled out of the gate losing 17 of their first 24 games. After reaching the postseason in 2015, it’s undeniable that missing the 2016 playoffs was a disappointment and a failure for the front office and the rest of the staff.

With the addition of several veterans, Houston hopes to have the personnel to avoid extended struggles and long losing streaks.

Aside from Beltran, Houston brought onboard outfielder Josh Reddick and catcher Brian McCann.

They will also have first baseman Yulieski Gurriel and third baseman Alex Bregman for a full year.

The offense is impressive to say the least, but to overtake the division-winning Texas Rangers and slow down the surging Seattle Mariners, the Astros will need the best version of Keuchel, who missed the last month of the 2016 season with a shoulder injury.

Apart from Keuchel, they will need a better performance from Lance McCullers, who last year could only start in 14 games due to a myriad of injuries. This year both Keuchel and McCullers look healthy and ready to go.

The same can’t be said of Collin McHugh, their third starter. He will start the campaign on the disabled list because of an arm problem. Mike Fiers, Charlie Morton and Joe Musgrove complete the rotation.

To avoid a lack of arms in the middle of the season, the Astros will most likely at some point pursue a pitcher or before the trading deadline to strengthen the rotation and help them earn a return trip to the playoffs.

 

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