The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
2023 Astros are poised for another banner season

I don’t think there is a more formidable lineup in either league to start the 2023 season than the Houston Astros. As last season’s World Series champion, they were obviously really good. And it looks like they will be REALLY (notice the extra emphasis) good again this season, since they are currently favored to win the World Series.

Some would characterize the Astros as a dynasty team, having appeared in four World Series during the last six seasons, capturing two championships. The rosters over his period have been carefully constructed by the organization to win championships. Strong scouting (both domestic and international) and player development departments have been key to their winning strategy.

Here’s the projected lineup to open the 2023 season:

Altuve 2B

Brantley LF

Alvarez DH

Bregman 3B

Tucker RF

Abreu 1B

Peña SS

Chas McCormick CF

Martín Maldonado C


What’s not to like about this lineup?

Now that Brantley is back from injury, after missing most of the 2022 season, and Abreu was acquired over the winter, the Astros actually have a better starting lineup than last year’s championship team.

First baseman Abreu represents a significant offensive improvement over Yuli Gurriel, who was a reliable, serviceable player for the Astros over the last seven years. Abreu was a 133 OPS+ player last season, while 38-year-old Gurriel posted a below average 84 OPS+.

Yeah, Brantley is 36 years old this season, but the veteran has been a 124 ERA+ player in his four seasons with the Astros. He doesn’t strike out a lot (12% of at-bats), while slashing .306/.368/.464.

Pena was a pleasant surprise last year, replacing all-star shortstop Carlos Correa, who left to go to Minnesota. The rookie turned in a Gold Glove season, while also providing his share of the offense. Last year’s ALCS and World Series MVP figures to only get better with more major-league at-bats.

Only 26 years old, Yordan Alvarez finished third in the MVP voting last season. In a short span of four seasons (including one in which he appeared in only two games due to injury), he’s become one of the best hitters in the league.

Altuve (5th in MVP voting), Bregman, and Tucker (Gold Glove winner) are All-Star-caliber players who can be counted on, year in and year out unless they incur injuries. Any offense that McCormick and Maldonado provide is lagniappe. Their primary contributions will be in defense, and in Maldonado’s case also handling the pitching staff.

All of the Astros’ starting pitchers return, with the exception of Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello. Verlander’s loss is significant--after all, how do you replace a Cy Young Award winner? However, the Astros will partially offset his loss in the starting rotation with Lance McCullers, who had only eight regular-season appearances last year. Framber Valdez figures to slot into the top of the rotation. The bullpen is largely intact from last season, headed by closer Ryan Pressly.

If the Astros have a weakness, it’s the depth and experience of their bench.

Looking at the rosters of American League competition, the Astros will be challenged by the Yankees and Blue Jays. In the National League, the Mets, Braves, Padres and Dodgers will contend for the right to play the Astros in the Fall Classic.

According to, the Houston Astros are the only MLB team to exceed their preseason over/under win total by at least seven wins in each of the last three full seasons (2019, 2021, 2022). Their projected win total for 2023 has declined, but their World Series odds have improved. (Per FanDuel, the Astros are +600; the Dodgers, Braves and Mets are +800; and the Yankees are +850.) If successful, the Astros would become the first team to defend their championship since the New York Yankees in 2000.

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