Friday 20th October, 2017
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historic-astros-bats-on-record-postseason-pace

Historic Astros bats on record postseason pace

MLB.com - Thursday 12th October, 2017

Statcast measures the exit velocity, launch angle and projected distance of Jose Altuve's three home runs during Game 1 of the ALDS

For all the talk about how adding Justin Verlander in August would give the team a boost, the story of the 2017 Astros is one about their bats. It's about how the best offense in baseball is the best in team history, and one of the best in baseball history, and, for the moment, maybe the best in postseason history.

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Now, this wasn't all Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer, and this wasn't all unexpected. Last season, the Astros had a league-average offense overall, but last offseason, looking at the additions of Josh Reddick and Carlos Beltran, plus expected progression from second-year players Yuli Gurriel and Alex Bregman, and the departures of Jason Castro and Colby Rasmus, we expected more. In January, we noted that Houston was projected to have "The 2017 Astros offense ranks with some of the game's all-time greats in production.

And look, for a moment, at the other teams on this list, which is largely dominated by the Ruth/Gehrig legends of the 1920s and '30s. There's the Cincinnati "Big Red Machine" of 1976. There's the Jackie Robinson/Duke Snider '53 Dodgers; there's Frank Robinson fueling both the '65 Reds and the '71 Orioles. The point is, you don't get on this list by accident. You only do it if you're truly special, and these Astros are.

Now, it almost seems unfair to compare what happened over six months of baseball to what's happening in the playoffs. The series are shorter, much shorter, and the competition is better, much better. Even now, we're talking about all of four of Houston's postseason games, all against the same team. We know that it's premature to invest too heavily in the partial numbers of the 2017 postseason, and yet that's what we have to go on at the moment.

But with that caveat in mind, we can still pass along this note: Baseball's best offense is having a postseason that lives up to the name. In Major League history, there have been 414 teams who have had at least 100 plate appearances in a single postseason, and (switching back here to raw OPS, as that's what's available for the postseason), the 2017 Astros are off to the best start, with a .974 OPS -- and now we've added the champion 2002 Angels, 2007 Red Sox, 1989 A's, and 1970 Orioles to the mix as well.

Through the first four games, the Astros are hitting like no other Postseason team ever has.

For Houston, that's a combined .333/.402/.571, which is basically the line that Freddie Freeman put up this year. It's close to what Paul Goldschmidt hit. It's four games, again, but four really good games, from a great hitting team. The Astros haven't done anything that their season-long performance didn't earn.

This isn't predictive, of course. It doesn't guarantee that they're going to keep hitting like this, and it's more likely than not they won't. In the ALCS, depending on who wins Wednesday night's Game 5, they'll be facing names like Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Andrew Miller, or Sonny Gray, Luis Severino and Aroldis Chapman. It's not going to get easier, anyway.

Then again, you might say that for the Yankees' and Indians' pitchers, too. After all, they're the ones who are going to have to try to figure out how to stop this group. So far, no one has.

Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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