Twistity MLB Exclusive: Astros Blasting Off

Astros Blasting Off They lost more than 100 games a year for three straight seasons, disappeared from local TV screens, traded veterans away to restock their farm system. The...

Astros Blasting Off

They lost more than 100 games a year for three straight seasons, disappeared from local TV screens, traded veterans away to restock their farm system.

The Houston Astros suffered. Those proud Astros of the late 1990s and early 200s, the Astros who went to their only World Series in 2005, were just a memory.

And now they’re back. Loaded with young stars, top pitching and excitement.

Major League Baseball begins the second half of its season on Friday following the All-Star break and the Astros are a mere half-game out of first place in the American League West.

Astros infielder Luis Valbuena.

Astros infielder Luis Valbuena.


 
They’re also fun to watch. They don’t hit much for average but they swat home runs and lead the majors with 124. Luis Valbuena has hit 19 homers and Evan Gattis and Chris Carter have 15 each.

They can manufacture runs (they’re fourth in scoring in the AL) by being aggressive on the base paths. Jose Altuve has 25 of their 69 stolen bases, which also lead the AL.

To build success, the Astros borrowed from success. They hired Jeff Luhnow late in 2011 as their general manager, pinching him from the so-called model franchise, the St. Louis Cardinals.  Luhnow has drafted carefully and wisely and built a team that now seems ready to ensure years of success after a decade of misery.

Watching young stars of the future – shortstop Carlos Correa is 20 – develop and grow makes for compelling storylines. And seeing a team so long absent from the postseason (the last appearance was when they got swept in the ’05 Series) make a run is always a pleasure for sports fans.
 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman .

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