I thought perhaps this was the year they'd take a step back. They'd lost Correa. They'd lost Cole, and come on, they couldn't be good forever, right?
Yeah, I was wrong.
People like to turn their nose up at the Houston Astros and pretend like everything they do is illegitimate because of the sign-stealing scandal of 2017. Purists like to get on their high horse, but in reality, the Houston Astros have become the model of stability that every other team in the American League would kill the be. This is a baseball team that has currently won 8 games in a row. They're on pace to tie the franchise record with 107 wins. They are sound in pretty much every area. They are 3rd in baseball in team ERA, 3rd in starting pitching ERA, and 1st in bullpen ERA. They're 5th in team OPS and 2nd in home runs. They have plus defenders all across the diamond as well. They lost their franchise shortstop Carlos Correa in the offseason and somehow didn't skip a beat, as rookie Jeremy Peña has filled his spot admirably and is currently one of the favorites to win AL Rookie Of The Year. They've spent their money wisely yet still have not gone over the luxury tax.
So much attention has been shown to Aaron Judge this season. Judge is one of the game's great talents, and he's currently in the midst of a career season in what is a contract year for him. But if the season ended today, it would be tough not to give the AL MVP to Yordan Alvarez, who currently has a higher bWAR than Judge and leads the league in slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+. He may very well be the most feared hitter on the planet right now. Every time I turn around, he's putting one over the fence. The fact that there is a player in baseball with a 1.075 OPS in a year in which the ball is dead is absolutely insane and a reflection of the fact that this man is a generational hitter.
The biggest tragedy of the Astros sign-stealing scandal was how unnecessary it was. That 2017 team was stacked and completely capable of winning the World Series fair and square. And while I'll maintain the belief that the Astros weren't the only team up to no good regarding sign-stealing, they were the first to get caught with their hand in the cookie jar. But anyone who thought they would fall off a cliff without the trash cans has been proven wrong repeatedly. The Houston Astros have gone from the biggest villains in sports to the ultimate "hate us 'cause they ain't us" team. You can try to ignore them and beat them, but they just keep winning. You gotta respect it.