UPDATED: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 | BataviasBest.org
As we enter the dog days of summer, there are three teams in Major League Baseball who have clearly performed to a level above that of the other 27 teams in the league, as the Houston Astros, New York Yankees, and Boston Red Sox are all within striking distance of finishing the regular season with the best record in baseball.
If you were to ask me, I would say the Astros are the best team of the lot.
Houston’s lineup runs six deep with the likes of Jose Altuve, Yuli Gurriel, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, George Springer, and the emerging Evan Gattis, making it one of the most-dangerous in baseball. However, their offense isn’t their strong point, as their pitching rotation is perhaps the best in baseball.
All sporting a sub-4.00 ERA, Charlie Morton, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Lance McCullers Jr., and Dallas Keuchel have been fabulous for Houston this year, and if that wasn’t enough, the ‘stros also have one of the top-bullpens in MLB. Ranking second in overall bullpen ERA, Houston is behind only one team – the Yankees.
To go with their strength out of the ‘pen, the Bronx bombers also come equipped with one of the strongest lineups in the league, featuring names such as Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Brett Gardner, and Aaron Hicks – all of which have taken their turn leading the men in pinstripes this season.
The problem with the Yankees is their starting pitching. Beginning with number four starter Sonny Gray, who is sporting close to a 6.00 ERA despite coming off of one of his best starts in months, the depth behind Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and CC Sabathia just isn’t there. If they’re going to turn into true contenders to win the division, and to achieve the best record American League, they must add a starting pitcher via free agency.
The Yankees rival the Red Sox could also use an arm or two before the trade deadline, especially in the bullpen where, outside of closer Craig Kimbrel, Boston doesn’t possess a plethora of top-tier relievers. On the other hand, their lineup is perhaps the best throughout MLB and has accumulated the top team batting average throughout MLB this season.
The addition of J.D. Martinez during the offseason has proven to be a stroke of genius for the BoSox, and with him added to the likes of Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, along with several other big names, this team seems ready to take the next step toward winning a World Series.
It may have been Houston who reached the mountain top a season ago, but it’s not difficult to imagine the Yankees or the Sox overtaking them this time around. As I previously mentioned, I view the Astros as the best team in the league as of today, but it remains to be seen what teams will add in free agency, and how their current rosters will improve, or decline during the second half.
Can the Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton explode as he did during the second half last season?
Will the Astros add another bat as they wait for Brian McCann’s return from injury?
How will the Red Sox bullpen hold up over the final 70 games?
Time will tell.