Smith: MLB’s greatest report may turn out to be useful for Astros

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Does the crew that gained latest back-to-back video games by a mixed 26-Three want the most effective report in Main League Baseball?

No.

Might the 2019 Astros profit from the highest mark within the sport when October heats up? Ought to A.J. Hinch’s membership do every little thing it may, inside motive, to beat the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers within the common season?

Absolutely.

The Astros’ franchise-altering 2017 marketing campaign is all of the proof you want that home-field benefit all through the playoffs isn’t completely important. When the crew’s first World Collection trophy was hoisted, the Astros saluted their touring followers inside a glowing Dodger Stadium that was principally emptied out by the point Sport 7 was full.

Final season, the Astros gained Sport 1 of the American League Championship Collection 7-2 at Fenway Park. Then they dropped three consecutive video games at Minute Maid Park, all of a sudden ending a season that featured a franchise-record 103 wins.

Whenever you’re this good yearly, the most effective report in baseball is a luxurious, not mission important.

“You probably have an opportunity for it — clearly, we do, being this far down within the season and being within the dialogue — it’s simply one other benefit you’d have going into the postseason,” mentioned veteran reliever Will Harris, who has made the playoffs in three of the final 4 years since becoming a member of the Astros in 2015. “I’d assume as many benefits as you may have, you’re going to take all of them. It could be enjoyable coming down the stretch.”

The Dodgers captured the most effective regular-season report in 2017. They fell to the Astros within the ultimate attainable sport.

Boston gained an MLB-best 108 video games final yr. Alex Cora’s Crimson Sox then stormed by the postseason, shedding solely three contests whole, blasting previous the Astros Four-1 within the ALCS, then successful the World Collection on Los Angeles’ subject.

Wild playing cards have shaken up the playoffs within the final decade. It has turn into modern to say something can occur in October and the most popular crew typically wins. However within the final three years, relationship to the Cubs’ title in 2016, the most effective total membership has gained all of it, and residential subject has been a bit overrated.

“The (regular-season) wins don’t really matter for something within the postseason, aside from we clearly play very well at dwelling and we’d prefer to have as many dwelling video games as we will. That may assist that trigger,” mentioned Harris, who earned the victory in Wednesday evening’s Eight-6 win over the Rays at Minute Maid, reducing his ERA to 1.60 and his WHIP to 1.01 in 57 appearances.

At 88-47, the Yankees have MLB’s greatest report, a half-game higher than the Astros and Dodgers (each 87-47). All three groups have at the very least 49 dwelling wins. The Dodgers (plus-222) and Astros (plus-211) led baseball in run differential coming into Wednesday’s video games and have been the one golf equipment that topped the Yankees (plus-160).

All three have overcome accidents in 2019. All three have latest big-time playoff expertise. All three have been on a collision course for months, identical to the Astros and Dodgers have been in 2017 and the Astros and Crimson Sox have been in ’18.

Boston took down Hinch’s crew final season as a result of the Crimson Sox have been higher, deeper and more healthy, not as a result of Cora’s membership produced extra regular-season victories.

The flip facet: The Astros’ magical 2017 season was on the verge of a painful end after New York took three consecutive ALCS video games at Yankee Stadium. These Astros pressed and cracked beneath the game’s greatest lights, and New York took a Three-2 sequence lead after outscoring the Astros 19-5 within the Bronx.

These Astros, on tempo for 105 wins, have their deepest and most harmful lineup of the Hinch period with a wholesome Carlos Correa. Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke and Cole are the most effective beginning trio within the sport, whereas Wade Miley (13-Four, Three.13 ERA) could be the highest arm on most groups. Yordan Álvarez (.329 common, 21 dwelling runs, 62 RBIs) virtually has American League Rookie of the Yr locked up in late August and will turn into a nationwide title on October’s stage.

Astros. Yankees. Dodgers.

September has virtually routinely led towards October beneath Hinch. Which of MLB’s greatest can have dwelling subject promised when the actual check begins once more?

“I’m thrilled proper now. We’re half a sport behind L.A. for the most effective report in all of baseball. I believe we’re going to move them,” Astros president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow mentioned Tuesday on 790 AM. “I believe we’re going to move the Yankees. … You simply take into consideration what we’re placing on the market each evening.”

I give the Dodgers a slight edge proper now. The Yankees have impressed all season and have refused to fall away. However Verlander, Greinke and Cole collectively in October additionally seems like one other ring.

Division titles are appreciated however passé within the AL West. The Astros gained 103 video games final yr, and it wasn’t sufficient.

They’d like to have the most effective report in 2019. They could want it to in the end get previous New York.

However what issues most now is similar factor that outlined the final two seasons. Being the final crew standing when the ultimate sport of the season is performed.

brian.smith@chron.com

twitter.com/chronbriansmith


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