Is Houston the South’s Only Shot at the World Series?
The powerhouses of the MLB, in recent years, tend to reside closer to Canada than Mexico, but in 2017, the Southern states found their savior in the form of the Houston Astros. The rebuilding process looked promising for a couple of years in the running to their World Series win, and now the Astros stand as one of the elite teams in the league.
But perhaps all of the hopes of baseball glory in the South don’t rest on the shoulders of the Astros. Others may not be as strong as Houston on paper, but good runs of wins and avoiding major long-term injuries can vault a good team to greatness.
Houston Astros still the Southern Darling
— Houston Astros (@astros) May 7, 2019
It’s hard to dispute that over the last few seasons, the Houston Astros have had one of the strongest rosters in the league. The scary thing for the rest of the MLB, however, is that the Astros are even better now than they were when they won the World Series in 2017.
In fact, it could be argued that last season’s Astros were better than the championship-winning group, but we all know how difficult it is to become a back-to-back champion. The MLB predictions on the Guardian see the Astros as coasting to the AL West title again, with them also being fancied for the World Series.
Despite a turbulent start to the season, the Houston Astros climbed to the top of the AL West to hold a convincing .600 winning percentage at the 35-game mark. Their +48 run differential was third-best in the league at the time, with the 129 runs allowed tally being particularly impressive and showcasing that the Astros are not merely a one-dimensional team.
Although ranked joint-fourth in the overall standings 35 games in, the Houston Astros have shown enough ability to be the favorites to win the World Series in the MLB odds on bet365 coming in at +425. However, fellow Southerners in the upstart Tampa Bay Rays and the Atlanta Braves also appear to have a fighting chance according to the experts.
The South Rises
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 7, 2019
Naturally, the Houston Astros lead the line when it comes to Southern teams potentially bringing home a championship this season, but Tampa Bay is certainly out to prove a point. With a .647 winning percentage through 34 games, the Tampa Bay Rays led the overall standings in the MLB.
Contending in the absurdly strong AL East alongside the New York Yankees and reigning champions Boston Red Sox, it’ll be a tough season for the Rays as they try to break out, but they’re proving themselves to be quite formidable so far.
The other Southern team that could be in the mix come October is Atlanta. The Braves have had an indifferent start to the season, barely scraping into a positive record through 35 games. The NL East, however, isn’t the toughest division in the MLB to overcome, and the Braves could push the Philadelphia Phillies for the top spot.
If the Tampa Bay Rays continue to dominate the AL East, they could well be among the favorites in the postseason. The Houston Astros, however, are incredibly strong and will enjoy a more carefree route to the playoffs, so let’s hope the two meet in the ALCS to guarantee a Southern team in the World Series.