Houston Astros: Top three batters and pitchers so far

Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /
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Houston Astros SP Justin Verlander
ANAHEIM, CA – MAY 16: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros pitches during the ninth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium on May 16, 2018, in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

1. Justin Verlander

When Verlander came over at the August 31st deadline, Houston Astros fans were ecstatic. The way he pitched the remainder of the year was even better. He, assuredly, was one of the key reasons the Houston Astros were able to snag the commissioner’s trophy.

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He had an ERA of 1.05 to pair with 43 strikeouts in five regular season starts. Absolutely ridiculous. It was one of the best month-plus stretches I’ve seen from a pitcher. He then parlayed that into a great postseason as well.

No one thought he’d be able to maintain those numbers in 2018. However, he’s done exactly that. And even better in some areas.

Verlander has been the best pitcher in the AL by far. In fact, the top three pitchers in the AL this year are Morton, Cole, and Verlander. His ERA is slightly better than his 2017 stretch, 1.05. He is averaging 11.01 strikeouts per nine innings, has a 0.71 WHIP, that all adds up to 2.8 WAR.

Verlander’s FIP sits at 2.19, which is lower than Cole’s and suggests a slight regression as the year goes on. However, thus far Verlander is absolutely the leader to win the Cy Young award, the second of his career.

If he can keep these numbers up, he should be more than a Cy Young candidate. He should be an MVP candidate.

Next: Three observations from May

Yes, the Houston Astros may not have started the year as unstoppable as many fans expected. However, the team has had a phenomenal start. The Astros, with these six players and many others, seem poised to challenge for the AL crown once again in 2018. I, personally, can’t wait to see what these six and the rest of the team continue to do.