The top teams in the American LeagueDate: August 10, 2019
By: Justin Morris
There are currently two teams who hold the best winning percentage in Major League Baseball: the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros. Both sit at the .655 mark as of Saturday morning (prior to both of their games) and have consistently been the two teams grappling for the top position among American League teams, two dominant mainstays atop the league’s pecking order.
The Bronx Bombers’ story this year greatly differs from that of Houston’s though. Their sustained success this season has been just about as surprising as their rival, and reigning World Series champion Red Sox struggles have been thus far. Perhaps even more surprising though, are the names they’ve been able to accomplish it with.
They’re well on pace to win over 100 games this year, and have young talent like Gleyber Torres, Luke Voit, and Gio Urshela to thank for a large part of their triumphs. They are smashing numerous power hitting and home run numbers from seasons past, and that is in both team and individual categories.
Their 50 homers against the Orioles is an all-time record for any team against a single opponent, and this is without hitters like Judge, Stanton and Sanchez consistently in the lineup. No one has been able to come close to the type of offensive barrages the Yanks have put up this year. Factoring in a completely healthy lineup that includes recent trade acquisition Edwin Encarnacion makes them one scary sight for any opposing team on the calendar.
New York hasn’t reached a World Series since 2009, which has yielded nothing but disappointment for fans of not only the wealthiest team in the league, but the one with the richest tradition. Their closest recent encounter: 2017, where they lost in a crucial championship series against the eventual World Series champion Houston Astros, who, if play continues the way it has for them, will face the Yankees once again on the road to the big show in 2019.
If the Yanks are the best team in the East, the Astros are without a doubt the best team in the west. Most of their championship roster from 2017 still remains, with their core of George Springer, Carlos Correa, and 2017 AL MVP Jose Altuve still leading their offensive attack. Alex Bregman, who at 22 played a key role in vaulting the Astros to their first ever Commissioners trophy, now has two All-Stars under his belt and 27 big flies this year.
New acquisition Michael Brantley was an All-Star for the fourth time in his career (first time with Houston), and is top 10 in the league in hits. Yuli Gurriel is hitting .379 with 18 home runs over the past 35 games, and what more can be said about the sensational rookie Yordan Alvarez, who has been on an absolute tear since stepping foot in the big leagues, with 14 blasts in 44 games. Pitching has always been the constant X-factor with any team in the league, especially with the types of offensive juggernauts teams have been able to put together.
Houston is checking all of their boxes though and adding Zack Greinke and Aaron Sanchez to a rotation that already features Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander may be just what they need to get them over the hump. The season still has much to be awaited, but these two teams have all the makings to create a championship series for the ages as postseason time approaches.
Justin Morris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.