With the all-star break quickly approaching, the Houston Astros have been called the best team in baseball by nearly every relevant voice. Who can blame them for expressing this? The season is far from over, but no one’s questioning the fact that they have been dominant so far. After all, they currently hold the best record in baseball at 50 wins and 24 losses. They also hold a 13-game lead in the AL West.
The Astros’ leverage has been at the plate all year. Here we are, 74 games in, and Houston leads the league in three major statistical categories. Posting a .350 on-base percentage, a .279 overall batting average, and 115 total home-runs has done them well. This brings an entirely new meaning to the phrase “shooting-stars.”
One of the prime factors in Houston’s success has been the consistency provided from their leadoff man, George Springer. In only his third season, the young outfielder has already started to write his legacy. Springer is currently tied for the second most home-runs in the AL, with 21 on the year. He has also maintained .277 batting average with a .349 on-base percentage.
One day removed from hitting a leadoff homer to surge his team past the Oakland Athletics in an 8-4 victory, Springer took the plate to start the final game of the series. The Astros were seeking the series sweep. Little did he know that he would leave the diamond after only five pitches from Oakland pitcher Jesse Hahn. That’s when Springer took a 92-mph fastball to his left hand. He was forced to leave the game with a contusion, and his status is now day-to-day.
In spite of Springer’s absence, Houston found the momentum they needed from backup center fielder Jake Marisnick. Marisnick replaced Springer on the base paths and remained on the diamond for the rest of the game. Marisnick did his best impersonation of Springer in the top of the second inning when he blasted a three-run homer. His bomb came during an eight-run rally by the Astros that would eventually translate to a 10-0 lead by the end of second.
The A’s strung together a couple runs here and there, and went on a six-run outburst in the bottom of the eighth inning. Their efforts fell short in the 12-9 contest. The Astros claimed their 50th win on the season without the help of their star player. Marisnick went 1 of 4 at the plate on the day.
It’s moments like these that reinforce the claim of the Astros being the best team from top to bottom in baseball. With 74 games down, the Houston faithful are ready to watch on as their Astros keep shining.
[Featured Image by Ben Margot/AP Images]