The 2023 season is one the Houston Astros will soon wish to have back and remember for a near miss, just one win away from potential destiny.
By losing in Game 7 of the ALCS, the Houston Astros fell short of another title, but they appear to have the makings of a potential dynasty. Houston has won six division titles in the last seven seasons. They also have seven straight seasons of at least an appearance in the American League Championship Series. That same stretch includes four AL pennant wins from 2017-2023 and two World Series titles.
Yet, at the start of the 2023 season, it almost seemed like things would come crashing down. So the question lays ahead, what’s next for the Houston Astros? Our own Jackson Fryburger has his thoughts looking ahead to 2024 here, including another possible Fall Classic.
Overall, the 2023 season for the Astros is one that contains a little bit of resiliency, a little bit of hope, and a little bit of “what if”.
As Spring Training draws nearer, let’s look back at the end-of-season recap to finalize 2023 for the Houston Astros.
Offense Still Amongst the Best in the AL
Despite winning 16 fewer games in the regular season than 2022, the 2023 Astros still had a top-notch unit.
Looking at the offense, Houston, as a team, had the second-most hits amongst American League teams in 2023 with 1441. That led to a .259 batting average, good for third in the Junior Circuit. They also placed in the AL’s top five in team on-base percentage (.331, second), team slugging (.437, third), and OPS (.768, third).
The Stros were also a very patient team at the plate this past season, drawing the fourth-most walks (550).
Alvarez Continues to Rise as a Star
One of the big reasons behind the Astros success is the dynamic bat of Cuban native DH Yordan Alvarez. Now, sure, Alvarez may have seen a slim drop-off in his statistics year over year, but he is emerging as a premier power threat at the plate.
In 2023, Alvarez slashed .293/.407/.583 with 31 home runs and 97 RBIs. Those statistics were good enough to earn him a second consecutive All-Star nod and a 13th place finish in American League MVP voting.
Now, Alvarez has gone three straight seasons with 30-plus home runs. He already is up to 129 home runs for his career. According to his Baseball Reference page, over a 162-game season, the average shows he will hit 43 home runs and drive in 128 runs. Those are numbers that could harken back to the power boom of the late 1990s.
Tucker Takes Step Forward in 2023
Another big bat who is a keystone piece to the Astros success is OF Kyle Tucker. Compared to 2022, Tucker took a major leap forward in the 2023 season. Looking at his statistics, Tucker finished with a .284/.369/.517 slash line in 2023, which is a 27-point jump in his batting average from 2022, a 39-point jump in on-base percentage, and a 39-point jump in slugging percentage. Not only that, but he also hit 29 home runs and drove in a career-high 112 RBIs to lead the league.
In addition, Tucker also tied for the team lead in hits with 163 hits this past season. All of these numbers led to Tucker scoring a second straight All-Star nomination, a fifth-place finish for AL MVP, and a Silver Slugger award. He and Alvarez are emerging as two of the premier power threats in today’s game.
Pitching as Steady a Unit as Ever
Looking to the other side of the coin, the Astros have as a reliable a pitching unit as anyone in MLB. Now sure, some of the statistics that are about to go on a list might not wow fans and other writers. But they’re still very solid numbers for today’s game. As a team, the Astros pitching racked up the third most wins in the AL (90), and they also finished top five in innings pitched (1445.1, fifth), hits allowed (1312, fifth), complete games (two, fourth), and strikeouts (1460, fifth).
Valdez Becoming a Top-Level Lefty
One of the reasons behind the pitching success for Houston is left-hander SP Framber Valdez. Valdez, along with a 12-11 record and a respectable 3.45 ERA, also tossed his first career no-hitter this past season. In 2023, he did a better job on cutting down the walks and racking up the strikeouts compared to 2022. That year saw Valdez strike out 194 batters against 67 walks over 201.1 innings. 2023? Valdez rang up 200 punch outs while only walking 57 in 198 innings. That equates to a 3.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Valdez is one pitcher who is not afraid to go after hitters.
Looking to the Future
But now with Spring Training just around the corner, the end-of-season recaps are almost at a close. And the Astros are locking up a key piece of their franchise.
Recently, the team announced that 2B Jose Altuve signed a five-year extension with the club, which will keep him under team control through 2029.
Now, it would not be surprising to see the Houston Astros make another deep playoff run in 2024. With how things are going recently, the mindset almost has to be World Series win or bust. If the Astros can pull it off again and win it all in 2024, then they will fully be in the conversation of dynasty talks.
Nate Powalie is a contributor for Back Sports Page. A 2022 graduate of Ashland University (Ashland, Ohio), Nate has five years of sports writing experience, and has gotten the chance to call sporting events for radio and live stream. Nate also works as a cashier and can be found on Twitter (@PNate22) and Facebook (Nate Powalie).
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