The Houston Astros are still riding high after winning the World Series in 2017 and the elite American League teams have been trying to play catch up during the offseason.
After losing to the Astros in game 7 of the ALCS, the Yankees made the biggest splash by acquiring the 2017 NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton and have been staying active in the starting pitching market, but Houston has made their own moves. Stealing Gerrit Cole from underneath the Yankees as they try to avoid a World Series hangover.
Similar to the Yankees and Red Sox in the early 2000’s, these teams look to be very competitive for many years to come. Taking it position-by-position, these teams are even closer than they appear:
Yankees: Gary Sanchez age 25 – 122 G .278/.345/.531 33 HR 90 RBI .876 OPS 4.4 WAR
Astros: Brian McCann age 33 – 97 G .241/.323/.436 18 HR 62 RBI .759 OPS 1.6 WAR
The former Yankee Brian McCann has been a very reliable piece for Houston. Commanding the pitching staff while still providing some pop at the plate, but it is no comparison to the star Gary Sanchez has become. Sanchez is one of the Yankees big 3 in the middle of their lineup, and has a cannon for an arm. His inability to block pitches at the plate have been well documented, but even with his deficiencies behind the plate, El Kraken is a superstar.
Yankees: Greg Bird age 25 – 48 G .190/.288/.422 9 HR 28 RBI .710 OPS -0.4 WAR
Astros: Yulieski Gurriel age 33 – 139 G .299/.332/.486 18 HR 75 RBI .817 OPS 1.8 WAR
This is an interesting comparison just because both players are relatively unknown commodities. Bird had an abysmal 2017 due in large part to a foot injury, and Gurriel turned 33 last year during his rookie season. Both were highly regarded prospects before getting to the MLB and have the talent to carry their team for an extended period of time, but Greg Bird’s health is an issue. Since coming up in 2015, Bird has not been able to play more than 48 games in a single season. Until he can prove he can stay on the field and be productive he is a concern.
Yankees: Gleyber Torres (AA + AAA) age 21 – 23 G .309/.406/.457 2 HR 16 RBI .863 OPS
Astros: Jose Altuve age 27 – 153 G .346/.410/.547 24 HR 81 RBI .957 OPS 7.5 WAR
Who would you rather have; a rookie or the reigning AL MVP…? Ok in all fairness, all signs point to Gleyber Torres being a star in this league and if all goes well he can compete for the Rookie of the Year award. But I mean c’mon he’s not Jose Altuve. Altuve has developed into possibly the best hitter in all of baseball and is the backbone of Houston’s offense. Yeah, give me the MVP.
Yankees: Didi Gregorius age 27 – 136 G .287/.318/.478 25 HR 87 RBI .796 OPS 3.9 WAR
Astros: Carlos Correa age 23 – 109 .315/.391/.550 24 HR 84 RBI .941 OPS 5.2 WAR
These are two of the top five Shortstops in all of baseball. Both Didi and Correa are absolute forces in the middle of the lineup and are two of the best clubhouse presences in all of baseball. Gregorius gets lost in this Yankees lineup and is a stabilizing force in the middle of their lineup, but Correa is younger and is one of the best young hitters in baseball. Although I give Correa the edge over Didi, both players are absolutely outstanding and seem to keep improving with each coming year.
Yankees:Brandon Drury age 25 – 135 G .267/.317/.447 13 HR 63 RBI .764 OPS 1.2 (f)WAR
Astros: Alex Bregman age 23 – 155 G .284/.352/.475 19 HR 71 RBI .827 OPS 3.8 WAR
Bregman is a grinder, man. This kid is going to be a problem for all of other 29 teams in baseball for years to come. His intensity and personality are unmatched on a baseball field and is extremely fun to watch. As far as Drury goes, the Yankees made an outstanding move acquiring him on Tuesday night as he is a proven bat who slots nicely into the lineup. However, if given the choice between the two, I’ll take the former.
Yankees: LF Brett Gardner age 34 – 151 G .264/.350/.428 21 HR 63 RBI .778 OPS 3.8 WAR
Astros: Jake Marisnick age 26 – 106 G .243/.319/.496 16 HR 35 RBI .815 OPS 1.4 WAR
Marisnick put together a really nice season last year for the Astros and will be looking to build upon that success, but it still does not match up to one of the toughest outs in baseball. Brett Gardner is still very impressive defensively and even belted a career high in home runs last season. He is an annoyance for opposing pitchers to face, (just ask Cody Allen) and he brings life to this offense. Give me Gardy.
Yankees: Aaron Hicks age 28 – 88 G .266/.372/.475 15 HR 52 RBI .847 OPS 3.3 WAR
Astros: George Springer age 28 – 140 G .283/..367/.522 34 HR 85 RBI .889 OPS 4.5 WAR
Aaron Hicks finally showed why the Twins took him 14th overall in the 2008 Amateur Draft, and if not for injury, he could’ve been a 25 HR guy. He and Springer are the same age, but the Astros Center Fielder is clearly the better player at this point of their respective careers. Springer is one of the most feared lead-off hitters in baseball and that won’t change in 2018.
Yankees: Aaron Judge age 25 – 155 G .284/.422/.627 52 HR 114 RBI 1.049 OPS 8.2 WAR
Astros: Josh Reddick age 30 – 134 G .314/.363/.484 13 HR 82 RBI .847 OPS 3.5 WAR
All rise. No. 99 is looking to come in and dominate the baseball world again. Although there may be some type of drop off in production from last season, he’s still a superstar. Josh Reddick is an outstanding Right Fielder and even posted a 3.5 WAR last season according to fangraphs, but he’s no Aaron Judge.
Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton age 28 – 159 G .281/.376/.631 59 HR 132 RBI 1.007 OPS 6.9 WAR
Astros: Marwin Gonzalez age 28 – 134 G .303/.377/.530 23 HR 90 RBI .907 OPS 4.1 WAR
Ohhhh man this will be fun. Watching Stanton drop bombs in pinstripes is what Yankees fans have been waiting for since it was announced he was traded to the Yankees on December 10th. This is not meant to take away from Marwin Gonzalez, he was the super-utility man for Houston last season and had a breakout year but he is being compared to one of the best hitters of this generation. Stanton is going to be a game changer in that lineup.
Yankees: Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery, CC Sabathia
Astros: Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Gerrit Cole, Lance McCullers Jr., Charlie Morton
The Yankees have one of the most reliable rotations in baseball and will benefit from a full year of Sonny Gray but man, that Astros starting staff is going to be FILTHY. They have four potential top of the rotation starters and if Cole makes the same adjustment Verlander made when coming over from Detroit last season, watch out.
Yankees: Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betantes, David Robertson, Tommy Khanle, Chad Green
Astros: Ken Giles, Chris Devinski, Will Harris, Jandel Gustave, Tony Sipp, Francis Martes
The Astros made some moves the improve their pen, but its still no match for the Yankees on back end. According to Mike Petriello, the Yankees could have a historically great bullpen allowing them to shorten games and take pressure off of the starting pitchers.
Yankees: Aaron Boone – 1st year manager
Astros: A.J. Hinch – 360-338 .516% 1 WS Title
Only time will tell how rookie manager Aaron Boone will do in New York, but the hiring of Boone comes from the success of A.J. Hinch. Young, progressive, analytically driven managers have become the trend in Major League Baseball, and the model for that is the manager in Houston. Boone’s upside as a manager is to be as good as Hinch.
I give the Astros the slight edge over Yankees 7-5 when comparing the positions. The Yankees are still not finished this offseason and likely have to make one or two moves if they want to catch the defending World Series champs. A collision course in the postseason feels almost inevitable at this point between these two teams, and with the sheer star power featured by both teams, it should be electric.
Also, if you want to see how the Yankees and Red Sox match up going into the 2018 season, check it out here: UPDATED: Position by position: Yankees and Red Sox