Stars falling: Astros are declining

(Billy Baer / NBC Sports)

The month of August is proving fatal to Houston Astros Pennant hopes. Michael Silverman, Boston Herald sportswriter, said, “The prize the team (Boston Red Sox) needs to strive for is best record in the American League. Suddenly, it’s within their reach.” The Red Sox are Houston’s main competitor and until now, they didn’t look like a threat.

Before August, Houston stood atop the American League at 69-36, but after a 10-16 August, they’re at only 79-52. Before August, they’re rivals in the east were at a dwindling 58-51, yet after a masterful month with a 17-8 record, Beantown is a mere four and a half games back at 75-57.

Houston players are also faltering: before the All-Star Break, Houston had at least one player in the top five in the following categories: runs scored (R), runs batted in (RBI), hits (H), home runs (HR), on-base percentage (OBP), slugging percentage (SLG), slugging percentage + on-base percentage (OPS), walks (BB), stolen bases (SB) and batting average (AVG). Now, Post-Break, the statistics are showing a faltering Astros’ offense; they have four players in the top ten for caught stealing (CS), no players in the top 20 for RBIs, no players in the top 25 for HRs and no players in the top ten for Rs.

Their bright lights since the Break have been, unsurprisingly, second baseman Jose Altuve, and, extremely surprisingly, third baseman Alex Bregman. Both men are leading the team in several categories Post-Break including R, H, HR, RBI, BB, SB and AVG.

The other giant threatening Houston is in the Land. The Cleveland Indians are half a game ahead of the Red Sox and are on six game win streak.

A team rising above their mere Wild Card status at the end of the previous season, this Indians’ team looks more like the team that took the highly favored Chicago Cubs to extra innings in Game Seven of the same year’s World Series. The Tribe has a mostly new cast this season, but nevertheless, they are succeeding.

As the Houston baseball team is in trouble, unfortunately, so is the city, so our thoughts and prayers go out to the hurricane-stricken area. Hurricane Harvey’s statistics are about as atrocious as the team’s, so we, Texans and all Americans hope that both change for the better, soon.

 

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