We’ve been going through all of the Astros great teams. But what if I told you that no other team - other than maybe 2018 is in the same league as the Astros?
Don’t believe me?
Let’s start simple. Record? 107-55. The best record the Astros have ever had. Also the most in all of baseball in 2019.
The Astros have had some formidable pitching staffs, but 2019’s Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Zack Greinke hold up well against even some of the best staffs we’ve ever had. I do give the edge to the Clemens/Oswalt/Pettitte combo, but it’s always hard to compare different eras especially with new baseballs that are flying further than ever. So let’s compare them against the league first.
ERA - 3.66 (2nd in Baseball)
xFIP - 3.80 (1st in Baseball)
K/9 - 10.28 (1st in Baseball)
BB/9 - 2.44 (2nd in Baseball)
SIERA - 3.77 (1st in Baseball)
I think there’s an easy argument that the Astros staff as a whole was the best in the league. When you have 2 HoF’ers and Gerrit Cole starting off, that’s to be expected although the bullpen was strong on it’s own merits.
Avg - .274 (1st in Baseball)
OBP - .352 (1st in Baseball)
Slug - .495 (1st in Baseball)
wRC+ - 125 (1st in Baseball)
WAR - 40.8 (1st in Baseball)
Let’s pause and think about this clean sweep for a second. We’re talking about a OPS of .847. Here are some of the All-Stars who didn’t even have a .847 OPS:
Just make the cut
There are 20 position players listed on the AL recap for the All-Star game. 2 of them are Astros. 10 of the remaining 18, were below the Astros’ TEAM OPS. Think about that. More than half of the All-Star team didn’t match the total aggregate OPS for the Astros including bench players and call-ups.
Well, I’m still not a huge fan of the defensive statistics, but it’s a large component so here is where the Astros ranked.
DRS - 96 (3rd)
Fielding % - .988 (2nd)
UZR - 14.9 (8th)
Inside Fielding Edge % (how likely the play is to be completed vs how often it was):
90-100%: 98.5% (best in baseball)
60-90%: 85.9% (best in baseball)
40-60%: 73.1% (best in baseball)
10-40%: 31.5% (9th in baseball)
1-10%: 5.8% (5th in baseball)
While I don’t lend a lot of credibility to defensive stats, especially with the Astros usage of the shift, it still points to the Astros being an elite defensive team as well.
The team across almost every aspect of the game was one of, if not THE BEST, in baseball. We had amazing teams in 2004/2005 but they were teams that the pitching carried the team compared to 2019, where there’s a legitimate argument about them being the best team of all time.
The 1927 Yankees, Murderer’s Row, is often considered one of the best teams in baseball. And again, it’s extremely tough to compare eras, especially 100 years apart, but we’ll take a look. So let’s start with some clarifications, there was only 16 times at the time of the 1927 Yankees and 154 games, and I want to make sure we pay attention to the league adjusted / comparative stats as I believe they’ll be far more telling than some of the traditional stats.
1927 Yankees - .307/.384/.488, .872 OPS, 126 wRC+, 158 HR
2019 Astros - .277/.352/.495, .847 OPS, 125 wRC+, 288 HR
1927 Yanks - 3.20 ERA, 3.72 FIP, 2.79 K/9, 2.65 BB/9, 122 ERA+
2019 Astros - 3.66 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 10.3 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 127 ERA+
From a pure stats standpoint (other than HR), the Yankees are clear winners. But when you compare them to the counterparts of the day, the Yankees were 26% better than anyone else offensively, and 22% better from a pitching perspective. The Astros at 25% and 27% may actually edge them out. Although the timing of the cheating allegations will likely never let them be remembered in this light by the baseball community.
There’s always the added excitement in the season when the team is active at the trade deadline, and Luhnow pushed some chips in. Here are the trades:
- Astros trade Derek Fisher for Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini
- Astros trade Tony Kemp for Martin Maldonado
- Astros trade Corbin Martin, JB Bukauskas, Seth Beer, and Josh Rojas for Zack Greinke
Adding a Hall of Famer, a strong backstop, and pitching depth only added to by far the best team in the league.
We already covered how amazing the season was, so let’s take a look at the playoffs.
Astro’s come up against the Play off hero Charlie Freakin’ Morton’s TB Rays.
The Astros after the season nearly come up with the clean sweep on award season. Yordan Alvarez unanimously takes the Rookie of the Year. Justin Verlander edges out Gerrit Cole for the Cy Young. But unfortunately, Alex Bregman falls just short of taking the MVP from Mike Trout in a close race.
It’s unfortunate that the Astros fell just short of their second World Series and that the legacy of this team will somewhat be tainted by a scandal from prior seasons, but we can all take a step back and be proud that there’s a legitimate argument that this was the best team ever assembled on a baseball field, and they represented Houston.
Man, I need baseball to come back.