No matter where you get your information, the Houston Astros entered the season as consensus favorites to win the American League West. Our preseason projections gave them a better than 50% chance to take the division. Forty-six of 55 FanGraphs staff members chose them to win the division. In case you think a pro-Astros bias exists on the site, whether being informed by our projections or for some other reason, consider also that Baseball Prospectus’ staff liked the Astros, as did the fine folks over at CBS and ESPN.
Y’know what’s a great way to dump a big bucket of cold water on some hot preseason expectations? Start your season 6-15. Do that, and you’ll drop your preseason playoff odds by 37% before the end of April and get FanGraphs to write an article saying you’re already in trouble. Another way: start your season 17-28. Do that, and you’ll drop your playoff odds to a season-worst 18% and get Sports Illustrated to write an article wondering if you’re already done. By that point, it was totally reasonable to have written the Astros off, May and all.
Except, y’know what’s a great way to fire those preseason expectations right back up? Win 23 of your next 31, including seven in a row near the end of June. Do that, and you’ll get your get your record back over .500, leapfrog the Mariners in the standings, get your playoff odds back to being a coin flip and get this very article written about you: the Astros have gotten themselves back in it.