Few would expect that the reigning World Series champions, the Houston Astros, would have to contend for a place in this year’s playoffs. Yet here we are, in the latter stages of August with the division still hotly contested. The Astros have been inconsistent, while the underdog Athletics have been on fire recently. The question remains for the West: Can the Astros return to the playoffs or will the Oakland Athletics have an ‘A+’ season?
In the latest three-game series, the A’s came out on top 2-1. In a tight first meeting, the A’s emerged victorious 4-3. This matchup had everything, ending in an electric 10th inning which saw Matt Olson smash his first walk-off homer in the Major Leagues.
In the second game of the series, the outcome was the same. After a flurry of base hits, the A’s put on a clinic at home winning the ballgame 7-1.
In the final game of this pivotal series, the Astros got some payback. Five homers ultimately ended the hopes of a sweep for the A’s, who lost 9-4.
The Wild Wild (AL) West. pic.twitter.com/9YfgKCbmD2
— MLB (@MLB) August 21, 2018
A’s All Round
From the 1st of June to the 20th of August, the Oakland A’s won 29 out of 40 games. To put that into context, the best team in baseball, the Red Sox, have won just three more games (32). This team has come so far this season. At the moment, the Elephants are joint atop the West, tied with the Astros in wins (76),losses (50) and winning percentage (.603).
Things get worse for the Astros, mainly due to the fact that right now the A’s are simply a better team who are firing on all cylinders. Thus, many fans across the nation are reciting an all too familiar phrase: “Houston, we have a problem.”
An Astronomic Return?
The Houston Astros have struggled with consistency throughout the season, despite retaining many of their World Series winning stars.
Injuries have been a considerable factor in their struggles. Sprinkled throughout the season, many of the big hitters have been absent at some point. In-fact, George Springer, Brian McCann and Carlos Correa had all been on the disabled list at the same time. This absence of these All-Stars along with Jose Altuve, left AJ Hinch with a weakened team. Leading to a 3-7 record in the last 10 games.
However, Altuve and Correa are back in the line-up with McCann and Springer due to return soon.
For now, the Astros look to be in a slump. However, with the return of major players and a slice of luck on their side, this Astros roster is talented and determined enough to reach the postseason another year.
Who takes top spot?
It has to be the A’s. Despite the aforementioned positives listed in the Astros’ favour, there is nothing stopping this fired up franchise.
Firstly, they have talent in all areas. Take designated hitter, Khris Davis, who has accumulated 37 homers on the season, or third baseman, Matt Chapman, who is a rising talent in his second year. Regarded as one of the best defensive players in the league, Chapman is glimmering in the Oakland sunshine. Finally, the bullpen is arguably the strongest asset of the A’s, particularly Blake Treinen who has a 0.87 ERA.
Regardless of the talent on the Astros this year, the Athletics are truly dangerous. Once they reach the playoffs, the rest of the league will soon pay attention.