I think, for the most part, the Houston Astros fan base was optimistic heading into this season. The team made some logical offseason moves (Brian McCann, Josh Roddick, Carlos Beltran), they had their core nucleus intact, and they were getting a healthy Dallas Keuchel. Even the odds-making community was bullish on the Astros, installing them at 16/1 to win the World Series, not bad for a team that fell short of expectations the previous season.
Needless to say, things have gone better than probably even the Astros expected. They're 60-29 at the figurative halfway point — the All-Star Game is Tuesday night — one of two teams, along with the Dodgers, to win 60 games before the break. More important, they've evolved into such a well-honed offensive machine that a) there is no one hitter who can go down with an injury and derail the season (last season, losing Springer, Altuve or Correa would have been death), and b) they've been able to withstand losing their ace, Dallas Keuchel, for more than a month and haven't skipped a beat.
So as I sit and watch Aaron Judge pile up about 100 home runs in this Home Run Derby, here are a collection of stats and interesting tweets on where the Astros stand statistically at the break:
TEAM OPS (On Base + Slugging Percentage)
Current: .855 On Pace: .855 Record: .837 (2000)
TEAM BATTING AVERAGE
Current: .289 On Pace: .289 Record: .280 (1998)
TEAM HOME RUNS
Current: 148 On Pace: 269 Record: 249 (2000)
TEAM RUNS SCORED
Current: 527 On Pace: 959 Record: 938 (2000)
Current: 197 On Pace: 359 Record: 326 (1998)
TEAM STRIKEOUTS (Pitching)
Current: 902 On Pace: 1,642 Record: 1,396 (2016)
GEORGE SPRINGER, HOME RUNS
Current: 27 On Pace: 49 Record: 47 (Jeff Bagwell, 2000)
DALLAS KEUCHEL, ERA
Current: 1.67 On Pace: 1.67 Record: 1.69 (Nolan Ryan, 1981)
CHRIS DEVENSKI, WHIP (Walks + Hits / Innings Pitched)
Current: 0.835 On Pace: 0.835 Record: 0.914 (Chris Devenski, 2016)
CHRIS DEVENSKI, K/9 (Strikeouts per 9 innings)
Current: 12.65 On Pace: 12.65 Record: Octavio Dotel (12.43, 2001)
Astros the Majors in runs (527), hits (898), doubles (197), HRs (148), batting average (.289), OBP (.355), slugging (.500) and OPS (.855).— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) July 10, 2017
20 in AL hitting .297 or better (min. 250 PA). 6 are #Astros:— Adam Wexler (@awexlerKPRC) July 10, 2017
AL OPS leaders: Judge 1.139, Springer .993, Ramirez .988, Correa .979, Altuve .968.— Richard Justice (@richardjustice) July 10, 2017
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Jose Altuve is the 9th player in MLB history (since 1913) to record 5 straight 3+ hit games. First to do it since George Brett (6g) in 1976.— Steve Grande (@AstrosGrande) July 9, 2017
Above all of this, the Astros are on pace for a team record in the most important category —- 109 wins, which would break the team record of 102 in 1998.
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.