Photo Credit: Marco Torres/Houston Press
After dominating the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS, the Houston Astros have moved onto their first Legue Championship Series since they won the National League pennant in 2005. Houston is winning because they tore everything down to the studs in the early 2010s and rebuilt through the draft with some extremely talented players.
It’s those talented, and likeable, athletes that have me rooting for the Astros in the playoffs.
Jose Altuve is by far the best player that Houston acquired through the draft. The second basemen has arguably been the most consistent hitter in the majors throughout the last few seasons, and he’s adapted really well to the playoff atmosphere. In the ALDS, Altuve hit .533/.632/1.133 with a wRC+ of 354 in 19 plate appearances. He’s been dominant at the plate during the playoffs and a major reason that the Astros escaped Boston with a series win.
But it’s not just Altuve’s offensive prowess that makes him an outstanding ball player, his defensive wizardry is also a sight to behold. Just watch below the range the second baseman showed on a ball hit against the defensive shift.
Credit: CBS Sports
The fact that he covered that much ground is impressive, especially since he managed to throw him out mid-spin. Altuve is frequently able to make plays in the hole that most second basemen don’t get to, while also making an accurate toss to the bag; the 27-year old is at the top of his game right now and its benefitted the Astros in the playoffs.
Altuve isn’t the only player to admire on the Astros, George Springer is also a defensive wizard whom can also mash the ball. Springer hasn’t been nearly as hot in the playoffs — he’s only hitting .412/.474/.706 with a wRC+ of 219 — but he’s still a pleasure to watch on the field.
If any player is worthy of praise, its Springer because he was placed into the leadoff spot this season and excelled. It wasn’t brilliant decision by manager AJ Hinch to put his most explosive hitter in the leadoff role to get him as any at bats as possible; it’s been a move that paid off. The brilliance that Hinch has consistently shown throughout the season is another reason to root for Houston during the playoffs.
Houston has one of the best managers in the game and two of its youngest (and brightest) stars, which is why I’m rooting for them throughout the playoffs.