Why the Houston Astros are baseball’s team to beat

Though the Houston Astros don’t have the best record in baseball (that distinction belongs to the New York Yankees), Ben Verlander believes they are the team to beat in MLB.

“Heading into last night, they had an eight-game winning streak, against good baseball teams might I add,” Verlander said Thursday on “Flippin’ Bats.”

“Since the stretch, they went Mets, Yankees, Mets, Yankees, and then continued on their winning streak. They’ve just turned over a new leaf.”

Why the Houston Astros are MLB’s team to beat

Ben Verlander thinks that while the New York Yankees have had a fantastic season thus far, the Astros are the team to beat. This is due to Houston’s fantastic pitching and the MVP-caliber hitting of Yordan Álvarez.

Verlander points out that the Stros’ pitching has been commendable of late, but says it’s their offense that is the main reason for the team’s recent success. And that starts with the hefty lefty bat of Yordan Álvarez.

“Yordan Álvarez is the best hitter in baseball,” Verlander proclaimed. “He’s batting .312 with a 1.073 OPS, 26 HRs now, 59 RBI. He’s on pace for over 50 HR, which would be a new Astros all-time record. He does it all: Hits for average, hits your best and worst pitcher. Entering Thursday, he was fourth in offensive WAR in baseball and OBP, first in slugging percentage, first in OPS, third in HRs, seventh in RBI, and second in ABs per HR — every 10 at-bats he hits one.

“He hit .418 in the entire month of June,” Verlander added, “and had a .510 OBP, .835 slugging, 1.345 OPS and 28 RBI. All were the best in baseball.”

Verlander was sure to give the team’s pitching staff its flowers as well.

“Their starting pitching has been unbelievable. Lance McCullers hasn’t thrown a pitch all year. Justin Verlander is having a Cy Young-caliber season, he’s been fantastic on the mound, 11-3, a 2.00 ERA in 16 starts. Framber Valdez is 8-3, Luis Garcia is 7-5, and both have ERAs around 3.00. Christian Javier’s ERA is 3.01, and he’s now the only pitcher in MLB history with 27 or more strikeouts and one or fewer hits allowed in a two-game span.”

And though the Yankees have a better record than Houston, Verlander was unwavering in his opinion.

“I’ve been one of the first to say just how good they are,” he said. “They’re on pace to break the all-time MLB record in wins. So how can I say that the Astros are the team beat?

“The Yankees have some deficiencies, most of which being they struggle to beat the Houston Astros. They have an Astros problem. The American League runs through the Houston Astros, they’re a force to be reckoned with.”

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