With their first winning season since 2008 and first playoff appearance since 2005, the Houston Astros are looking to build on 2015’s successes and plow forward for the 2016 season. Improvements in power, speed and pitching could provide the roadmap to the top of the AL West.
The Astros starting rotation is indeed a strength with lefty Dallas Keuchel who shocked the MLB world with his Cy Young 2015 season. 22 year old Lance McCullers is in his sophomore season and with his consistent 95 mph fastball could combine with Keuchel to create one of the strongest tandems in baseball. Perhaps the biggest addition this winter was to the bullpen adding righty Ken Giles who was acquired from the Phillies for Mark Appel and Vince Velasquez in a five-for-two deal. Giles will add velocity that their pen lacked in last year’s American League Division Series. The middle infield for Houston is as solid as they come with Carlos Correa at shortstop and Jose Altuve at second base. Third baseman Luis Valbuena is coming off a 25-homer season and will be a free
agent after this season so will be looking to impress. Now that Chris Carter is gone, Jon Singleton should get the nod at first and will need to translate his stellar AAA play to the big leagues. When healthy, the Astros boast one of the best outfields around with Colby Rasmus, Carlos Gomez and George Springer. Fortunately for the club, they also have depth should the injury bug hit the field again in 2015.
Houston will need repeat performances from many guys on the roster in 2016 to better last season and move up the rankings in the AL West. With a bolstered bullpen and a healthy squad, the Astros should be in the mix for a playoff berth once again this season. Fans of this team have been loyal for decades and should be sure to purchase your Houston Astros tickets and support this talented organization in 2016.
The Houston Astros started playing baseball back in 1962, debuting as the Colt .45s. The club changed its name just about the time they moved indoors and cultivated the very first Astro turf. This change did not alter the team’s quality of play. The franchise still needed time to collect and develop some young players.
Eventually Houston did, and by the beginning of the 1980s the Astros were a force in the National League West. They had Jose Cruz and Cesar Cedeno in the outfield and Joe Morgan in the infield. Joe Niekro, Nolan Ryan, J.R. Richard, and Don Sutton anchored the starting rotation. These early 1980s clubs could not quite make the turn though, even after an impressive 1986 season nearly ended in 100 wins.
The golden age for the Astros came when Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell began playing together. The Killer Bs (which always seemed to have a third B, whether it was Derek Bell or Lance Berkman) were the catalyst for an offense that took first place in the NL Central four times and second place in the division seven time from 1994 to 2005. That last season Houston finished in second place in the division, went to the playoffs as a wild card. They had an incredible run through the National League side of the playoffs.
The Astros beat the Braves in a four game series to avenge the four times the Braves took them out in the NLDS during that same golden age. From there, Houston went on to surprise the Cardinals by beating them in six games. The Astros next met the White Sox. Unfortunately the Sox had momentum on their side and they swept the ‘Stros in the World Series. The team has been rebuilding ever since, and sometime soon the team will be in the postseason, only as an American League club.