Posts Tagged ‘Bill Gilbert: 2018 Astros Expectations’

Bill Gilbert: 2018 Astros Expectations

April 8, 2018

There have been a few great injury-hampered players in baseball history – Mickey Mantle jumps immediately to mind – but we offer that there have been no greater “DL”-plagued baseball thinkers, researchers, and true students of the game than the man who writes this initial prospectus for us on the 2018 Houston Astros today in The Pecan Park Eagle.

Thank you, Bill Gilbert, for your service to the game.

Please take care of yourself and get as well as you can be.

 

What Should Be Expected from the Houston Astros in 2018?

By Bill Gilbert

For the first time in their 57 year history, the Astros open the season as World Champions. Astro fans need to be aware that anything less than a repeat will be viewed as a disappointment to some. The Astros defeated the rest of the Division by 21 games in 2017 which gives the team a pretty good cushion even though other teams have improved, most significantly the Los Angeles Angels. A reasonable expectation might be winning the AL West but failing to again make it through three levels of playoffs.

The Astros did not stand still. They traded for starting pitcher, Gerrit Cole, a former All-Star without giving up either of their two top prospects, providing them with possibly the strongest rotation in the league. Justin Verlander can’t be expected to do as well as last year but should be a big winner. Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr. should be better if they can stay healthy. Cole and World Series hero, Charlie Morton are better than other team’s mid-rotation starters. They also strengthened the bullpen, which wore down late in the season with the signing of free agents, Joe Smith and Hector Rendon.

In last year’s preseason article, I forecast that the Astros would improve their run production from 4.5 to 4.8 runs per game resulting in 7 more wins. I totally blew that prediction when the team increased run production to 5.53 runs per game resulting in 15 more wins.

The nine starting position players from the World Series team return intact. It will be difficult to match their 2017 offensive production but it should be close. League MVP, Jose Altuve, may not repeat but he will be one of the best players in baseball. George Springer, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman are all young and improving and should be even better this year than last. Yuli Gurriel. Brian McCann and Evan Gattis are all solid contributors at the lower end of the lineup. Marwin Gonzalez and Josh Reddick had exceptional years in 2017 and fill out a lineup that is strong from top to bottom.

I expect the Astros to score 5.0 runs per game in 2018 while the pitching allows 4.0. This makes for a successful season that should carry over in to the playoffs.

The Astros should have a good start with their first three series against likely non-contenders, Texas, Baltimore and San Diego. They could lead the AL West Division from start to finish as they did last year.

I realize it’s not fair to write a pre-season forecast after eight regular season games. It wasn’t by design. I have been hospitalized since March 25 with limited access to my computer and other resources and no access to the MLB Network. I had this report pretty well formulated in my mind before the season started. However, I am on my way to recovery and should have more analysis in a report at the end of April.

Bill Gilbert

4/7/18

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle