Enrique RojasSenior digital writer at ESPNReading: 4 minutes.
In 2023, the Astros won their sixth division title in seven years and played in the Championship Series for the seventh straight season, marking, by far, the most successful stretch in their 62 years of existence. But what’s next for Houston?
In 2023, The Houston Astros won their sixth division title in seven years and played in the American League Championship Series for the seventh straight season, continuing their most successful stretch in 62 years.
For next season, the team will return practically intact or even improved, in some areas, so there is no reason not to make Houston from now on one of the true Major League Baseball (MLB) title contenders.
It’s no coincidence that ESPNBET tied Houston for third place (with in-state and division rivals the Texas Rangers), with a +900 line, for third place among 2024 top prospects, behind the Atlanta Braves (+650) and Los Angeles Dodgers (+700).
But some things have begun to change since the Astros lost the American League Championship Series in a decisive Game 7 to the Rangers, who eventually won their first World Series, beating the Arizona Diamondbacks in five games.
More importantly, at the age of 74, Dusty Baker left the head coaching position for the peace of his home, sitting and waiting for the call from the Hall of Fame, making way for Puerto Rican Joe Espada to take over the reins of one of the world’s most cherished managers. Complete rosters owned by the Major Leagues (MLB).
Second, general manager Dana Brown reported that Dominican youngster Yaner Diaz will replace Puerto Rican veteran Martin Maldonado as the starter starting in 2024. Maldonado has been a defensive leader, but Diaz is a high-powered hitter who will automatically make teams more dangerous. Astros.
Other than that, Houston doesn’t have any major holes to fill before spring training camp opens in West Palm Beach, Fla., next February.
The pitching, the “Achilles’ heel” of most clubs, appears to be strong. Veteran Justin Verlander and Dominicans Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier lead a maneuver that will bring back the injured Luis Garcia (Venezuelan) and Lance McCullers Jr.
Rookies Hunter Brown and J.B. France will have another year of experience, while Mexican Jose Urquidi is an option to start and relieve oneself.
This is probably where Brown and his baseball operations team do the most work, especially given the fact that Hector Neres, Ryan Stanek and Phil Mattone are free agents.
The offensive artillery was left practically intact with the return of Cuban 1B Jose Abreu, Venezuelan 2B Jose Altuve, Dominican shortstop Jeremy Pena, third baseman Alex Bregman, and outfielders Kyle Tucker and (Cuban) Yordan Alvarez.
Honduran Mauricio Dupon, who won a Gold Glove as a utility player and hit 39 extra-base hits in 467 at-bats, went from being a minor substitute to a key member of the club’s overall lineup.
Outfielder and designated hitter Michael Brantley, a free agent, played just 15 games last year, making him little relevance to the team’s center field.
The Astros won 92 games last year and with a little more health, they can jump in 2024 to nearly 100 wins and another long run in the major league postseason.
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