Root Sports aired a graphic during Wednesday’s Astros game about which teams had scored the most runs per game over the entirety of the season in Major League history. The New York Yankees filled four spots on the list. That’s not too surprising, seeing as how three of those involved seasons featuring either Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig or Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio.
The lone non-Yankees team on that list: the 2017 Houston Astros.
This is still just one of those on-pace stats, and it’s quite possible the Astros will fall off and won't keep scoring runs at this incredible pace (for instance, the Boston Red Sox were on this pace last year, and the Washington Nationals were on it earlier this season). Still this team is an incredible offensive machine.
As of last night the Astros led the majors with a .287 batting average, 136 home runs, 465 RBI, 490 runs, a .352 on-base percentage, .493 slugging percentage, an OPS of .845, 849 hits and 186 doubles. The team has shelled good and bad pitchers alike, and there's no wonder the Astros are running away with the A.L. West, and have the best record in the majors.
The Astros hit the ball hard and score runs in bunches. They take leads and come from behind. Leadoff hitter George Springer has the third most homers in baseball. Shortstop Carlos Correa has 17, and super utility man Marwin Gonzalez hit his 15th home run on Thursday night.
Here’s another stat. The 2013 Houston Astros scored 610 runs. For the entire season. It’s possible this current team could eclipse that number before the end of July. The 2005 Astros, the squad that went to the World Series, scored 693 runs. The 1998 Astros, the only Astros team ever to reach 100 wins, scored 874 runs.
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There’s a little under half of the season left. Right now, just about every player on the team is hitting the ball. So it’s likely a slump or two is still to come, but now this team is as locked in while batting as just about any team in Astros history.
With the Astros virtually a lock to win the A.L. West, the question becomes whether their bats will stay hot when the weather cools. Being a high-scoring team isn’t always enough to guarantee wins in the playoffs; otherwise teams like the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays would have won the World Series in seasons past. And any fan of the Astros in the late 1990s still probably has nightmares of those teams being shut down by the Braves in the playoffs (and by Kevin Brown and the Padres in 1998). But let’s not focus on that at the moment.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of this season shapes up. The bullpen can only get better once Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh and Charlie Morton come back, and the starting rotation will definitely be better once Keuchel is back at the anchor. And as the trade deadline approaches, the question arises as to whether Jeff Luhnow swings off a Gerry Hunsicker-type deal and brings in another dynamic starting pitcher around the trade deadline (the Astrodome was never as electric as it was that first night Randy Johnson pitched in Houston as a starter for the Astros).
It’s hard to believe that it was just 2013 that the Astros were the worst team in baseball. It’s hard to believe that it was in 2014 when Sports Illustrated was being mocked for stating the Astros would win the World Series in 2017. But laugh no more, for the future of Houston Astros baseball is now. And this future is fun.