Houston Astros: World Series Contenders Within 5 Years?

James SchmidtCorrespondent IAugust 26, 2010

HOUSTON - AUGUST 19:  Carlos Lee #45 of the Houston Astros is congratulated by Angel Sanchez #36 and Hunter Pence #9 after hitting a three run home run in the seventh inning against the New York Mets at Minute Maid Park on August 19, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Houston Astros are one of the not so good teams in the MLB this year. Fans had high hopes coming into this year with a team that knows how to put up runs. That hasn’t happened, to put it lightly, the Astros rank 27th in the league in offense. Not what people expected. With guys like Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence how could you not put up a bunch of runs a game? When all three of these guys bat under .260 the first half of the season, that might be a problem, but the Astros have moved on from the past and are looking forward to the future. Here’s why the Astros might compete for a title within the next 5 years.

Reason #1 Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson has got to be the second half MVP for the National League; he is hitting 342 with 6 homeruns and 36 RBI’s. In other words he has been on an absolute tear. Looks like after 2 short stints with the club Johnson decided the third time’s a charm and has made the most of it. He is one of the rising young stars in the league and will only get better. I wouldn’t expect him to repeat these numbers but I would expect for him to be very, very productive in his career with the Astros.

Reason #2 Hunter Pence

Pre all star game Pence was hitting .263 with 12 homers and 40 RBI’s in 323 at bats. Post all star game he is hitting .333 with 8 homers and 30 RBI’s in only 150 at bats, raising his batting average up to .285 on the season. Just showing why he is still one of the best young players in the MLB. Not to mention he is one of the better fielding outfielders in the league. You can only expect more great things in the future from this young man.

Reason #3 The Pitching Staff

With Brett Myers (9-7 3.08 era) having an outstanding season he signed an extension with the ‘Stros and is ready to continue his excellent pitching into the next couple seasons. Bud Norris is getting better every year and has had an up and down season, but has shown sign that he can become a very solid pitcher in this rotation. Wandy Rodriguez had a rough start to his season but has come into his own lately, post all star break he is 3-1 with a 1. 90 era. J.A. Happ was runner up for rookie of the year and beat Roy Halladay and his former team the Phillies today, he is 27 and has been up and down this season for the Astros but overall been very solid and is only getting better. Jordan Lyles is a top pitching prospect in the Astros minor league system and is expected to be a staff ace in a couple years, he is only 19 and is going to get a whole lot better. The bullpen has also been great, Lindstrom as run into a few roadblocks lately but apparently this was caused by back problems as he went to the DL for it. Brandon Lyon and Wilton Lopez have to be the culprit for this solid bullpen and should continue to get better over the next couple seasons, Sammy Gervacio is also a guy who had a rough year but is very good when he is on his game.

Reason #4 The Other Guys

Michael Bourn: possibly the fastest guy in the MLB. Jason Castro: the #41 prospect according to Baseball America. Brett Wallace: the #27 prospect according to Baseball America. These three guys are going to be key if to the Astros success. Michael Bourn does have trouble with his batting average, he is batting .250 this season. But when he is getting on base he is the best base stealer in the league. Jason Castro and Brett Wallace are in their first year in The Show. Both have showed flashes of their skill but it will take time for them to develop fully into the hitting machines they are supposed to be. Angel Sanchez has also proved to be a very solid offensive and defensive shortstop. Then you have Carlos Lee, he is having an awful season for his standards. I expect him to be back to his old self next season so I wouldn’t worry too much.

The Astros have the tools to compete for a championship in 5 years, it’s just if the guys live up to the expectations and if Drayton McClane will fork over the money to keep these guys on the team. Of course they will sign more free agents to make the team better, but the farm system is turning out better than expected. This is a team with some really good young players and should not be underestimated. They might even be able to go .500 next season and maybe even get a playoff berth. The future is exciting for the Houston Astros.