*The sportsbook at Caesars lists the 2019 Astros' win total at 97.5, the highest among the four AL teams - and six MLB teams - listed at over 90 wins. H
New York Yankees: 96.5
Los Angeles Dodgers: 94
Chicago Cubs: 90.5
So let's talk right quick about how the Astros get to 98 wins (bet the over).
1. It helps to have 76 games against the AL West.
a. The A's are the only ones with a legitimate shot at 90+ wins, following up a 97-win campaign though they never actually led the division outright. No, seriously, and this is crazy: the A's were tied with the Astros for 1st place for four days, but they won 97 games and never actually had sole possession of the AL West.
The A's signed Joakim Soria and acquired Jurickson Profar. Over the last three seasons Soria has thrown 183.1IP, 172H/74ER, 207K:63BB - a 3.63 ERA/1.28 WHIP to go with a 3.07 FIP. Solid pickup.
Profar, however, has been a Prospect for literally 72 seasons. He's coming off his best offensive season in 2018 in which he got a career-high 594 PAs and hit [squints] .254/.335/.458, and only struck out 88 times (54 walks) with a career-high 20 home runs. It was worth 2.9 fWAR which, among 21 qualified Shortstops, ranked 12th. He'll be getting a shot in a not-as-hitter-friendly home park.
Then there's Mike F. Fiers.
Who knows what the A's can do this year? They'll be good. But will they go 31-14 in 1-run games? Will they go 13-6 in extra-inning games? Will they match their July 1-end of season record of 51-27 (.654) over 162 games? Or will they be more like the 46-38 (.548) team they were from the beginning of the season until June 30? A .548 team would have finished just barely behind Seattle.
b. If you look at the Mariners' roster, they could maybe Do Something, maybe Not, but their current 40-Man Roster is probably going to get flipped like Chip Gaines is running the damn team.
c. The Angels are Mike Trout and 24 blokes, one of whom is Matt Harvey.
d. Then there's the Ramgers. Bless their hearts.
The Astros went 46-30 against the AL West last year. Oakland went 38-38.
2. Now we can talk about the Astros, after spending more time thinking and writing about the A's than I have in the entire previous ten years of Astros County's existence. Let's not forget that the Astros' Pythagorean Record was 109-53 - one game better than the Red Sox, whose Pythagorean Record was 103-59.
a. Will the 2019 Astros be better than the 2018 Astros? I do not know, and neither does anyone else. They lost 500IP between Keuchel, Morton, and McCullers (assuming Keuchel doesn't re-sign with Houston...an event which I think has a >1% chance of happening.).
b. I do believe that Altuve will return to being Altuve, though he wasn't far off from being Peak Altuve in 2018.
c. I do believe that Carlos Correa is the .285/.363/.495 hitter that he was from his MLB debut until he went on the DL after the June 25, 2018 game, rather than the .180/.261/.256 hitter he was from August 10 to the end of the regular season. A healthy Altuve and a healthy Correa combined with an outfield that includes Michael Brantley could cover some pitching inconsistencies. In 2018 the pitching bailed out the offense, maybe the pendulum swings the other way in 2019.
d. For the first 62 games of the 2018 season (38.3%) of the season, the Astros averaged 8.7 hits/9 innings to 8.4 strikeouts/9 innings. It was a stupid time. I don't think that holds up for over a third of the season in 2019.
3. Who is actually trying in 2019, in the AL?
b. New York
f. Maybe Minnesota
The Astros went 29-24 against those teams. And at least four of those losses were bullcrap.
Bet the over on 97.5 for the 2019 Astros.
*On to something else.
While Jim Crane says Jeff Luhnow looks to possibly add a bat & a starting pitcher other moves could still be made: "You never know. We might add something to the back of the bullpen.Everything's possible at this point,but I'm sure we'll make 2 or 3 moves before everything's over" pic.twitter.com/Tae0Bb2UKK— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) January 9, 2019
*ESPN's David Schoenfield predicts that Dallas Keuchel will sign with the Padres (Petco would be a good fit, I guess), though mentions the Rangers and Nationals as possibilities, as well.
He also predicts Boston's Clay Buchholz to Houston. And Marwin to the Angels, of which I would not approve.
*On Sunday, Alex Bregman will play softball to help out victims of the California wildfires.
*Forrest Whitley will appear in-person, and Kyle Tucker will phone in, on Astroline tonight. Event is at Pluckers on Shephard.
*Cionel Perez, Framber Valdez, and Josh James are at the Rookie Career Development Program.
*Former Astros Great J.D. Davis spoke to the Sacramento Bee about getting traded to the M-E-T-S METS METS METS. Davis:
I'm stoked. We've been happy with the Astros since I got drafted, but I'm excited to have the opportunity to make it as an everyday starter, to do my part to help our team win...I learned from my game failures, learned from players and I was waiting for a team to come after me, to trade for me, and sure enough, the Mets took that step. It's time to take off from here.
The NL East is the NL West of the National League. Think about it, huh.
*Former Astros Great and World Series-winning Hitting Coach/now Blue Jays' Bench Coach Dave Hudgens is looking forward to helping with Vlad Jr., Cavan Biggio, and Bo Bichette. Hudgens:
You need a lot of depth to win and I think that's the goal and that's what's being developed in the Blue Jays organization.
*If you're active on Twitter, you already know that Tyler Bauer is a complete asshole. He provided even further evidence this week, with narrative provided by a weak-ass Cleveland reporter.
*YES Network is ranking the Yankees' 19 best Yankees games since 2000 and picked 2017 ALCS G4 as their 12th-best, one of the three games they won in an effort to end their season.
Playoff wins since Houston joined the American League:
*Human lives were not of value in Sugar Land.
*A musical selection: