Over the weekend, the Astros won their 51st game of the 2018 season. The win moved their record to 51-27 at the time, which might not seem very significant, as we all exist in this age of constant Astros success. It felt like just another win.
However, just five seasons ago, it took the Astros an entire season — 84 MORE games — to win 51 games, so when you put it that way, it's quite satisfying to think about how far this franchise has come in those five years. In 2013, the year of the franchise-worst 51-111 record, the payroll for the entire team was about what owner Jim Crane is now paying Justin Verlander himself, and the team's requisite All-Star representative in 2013 was catcher Jason Castro.
Well, those days are long gone, and it's evident on so many levels. In late June, the relevant level in which we see the difference is in All-Star balloting. Back in 2013, second baseman Jose Altuve was, rightfully, the only Astro to crack the top eight at his position in All-Star voting. He was fifth at second base, behind names like Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, and Omar Infante.
Five years later, Jose Altuve is the leading All-Star vote getter walking the earth, and the Astros have players in the very upper echelon at every position. As of Tuesday afternoon, here are the most recent voting totals:
1. Wilson Ramos, Rays: 1,063,708
2. Gary Sanchez, Yankees: 904,678
3. Brian McCann, Astros: 680,351
4. Salvador Perez, Royals: 497,711
5. Yan Gomes, Indians: 345,015
1. Jose Abreu, White Sox: 1,032,748
2. Yuli Gurriel, Astros: 714,361
3. Mitch Moreland, Red Sox: 644,728
4. Albert Pujols, Angels: 516,550
5. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: 415,891
1. Jose Altuve, Astros: 2,460,967
2. Gleyber Torres, Yankees: 797,817
3. Dee Gordon, Mariners: 395,253
4. Jason Kipnis, Indians: 248,942
5. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: 184,661
1. Jose Ramirez, Indians: 1,319,651
2. Miguel Andujar, Yankees: 764,032
3. Alex Bregman, Astros: 718,814
4. Adrian Beltre, Rangers: 422,263
5. Mike Moustakas, Royals: 342,607
1. Manny Machado, Orioles: 960,628
2. Carlos Correa, Astros: 793,087
3. Didi Gregorius, Yankees: 639,630
4. Francisco Lindor, Indians: 619,112
5. Jean Segura, Mariners: 504,985
1. Mookie Betts, Red Sox: 2,337,514
2. Mike Trout, Angels: 1,989,649
3. Aaron Judge, Yankees: 1,557,109
4. George Springer, Astros: 829,579
5. Michael Brantley, Indians: 794,074
6. Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox: 784,969
7. Marwin Gonzalez, Astros: 531,538
8. Brett Gardner, Yankees: 501,175
9. Mitch Haniger, Mariners: 487,150
10. Josh Reddick, Astros: 485,861
11. Eddie Rosario, Twins: 434,243
12. Aaron Hicks, Yankees: 374,794
13. Jackie Bradley Jr., Red Sox: 366,791
14. Nicholas Castellanos, Tigers: 364,392
15. Ben Gamel, Mariners: 257,653
1. J.D. Martinez, Red Sox: 1,675,492
2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees: 738,878
3. Evan Gattis, Astros: 659,606
4. Shohei Ohtani, Angels: 452,372
5. Nelson Cruz, Mariners: 424,914
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So, we've seen a ton of upward movement by many of these Astros, perhaps the cachet of the World Series title resonating with the voting constituency out there. The question is "How many of these Astros have a realistic chance at starting in the 2018 All-Star Game?"
Obviously, Altuve is a lock to start (probably for the next four or five seasons, at least). The next best chance probably belongs to Correa, second among shortstops, because he's got a reasonable deficit to make up, and the person he is chasing, Baltimore's Manny Machado, could get traded out of the American League in the next few weeks. Aside from that, Gurriel has made up a ton of ground, but most of the remaining Astros simply have too much ground to make up.
A couple weeks ago, I posted a total of 5.5 for total Astro All-Stars. With Correa, Springer, and perhaps Bregman all decent candidates to join Altuve as reserves, and with Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, and maybe even Chris Devenski in line to be selected for the pitching staff, the OVER on 5.5 still looks strong to very strong.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.