The Houston Astros were historically bad in 2013, winning just 51 games and losing a franchise-record 111. Last season, the Astros finally began showing signs of life, improving its win total from 51 to 70.
Houston’s 2014 success has new manager A.J. Hinch feeling optimistic about 2015.
“As guys get more comfortable, they start being themselves a little bit more,” Hinch told WEBN. “Their belief in themselves gets higher just out of experience, having some successes and failures to go with. I think this group has done a good job of persevering through a couple tough seasons and now they’re poised to have better times.”
Over the offseason, the Astros signed two of the top relievers off the free agent market in Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson. Hinch said staying ahead in games once you build a lead is crucial in order to have a successful season.
“There’s no doubt that the mood of the team is greatly affected by just winning the games that you’re ahead,” Hinch said. “When you get ahead and you have a shut-down bullpen, that’s important. For me personally, as a manager, you want to be feel comfortable with the guys you’re handing the ball to with the game on the line, and we have some pretty good one’s down there now.”
Hinch said he was excited about the addition of Evan Gattis from the Braves. Gattis will join Chris Carter, who ranked 2nd in all of baseball with 37 home runs last season, and rising star George Springer in the middle of the Astros order.
“We’ve got some power,” Hinch said. “I mean those are dangerous hitters, and the other dugout is going to recognize that when they’re coming up to bat. The depth of our lineup is much better with the big boys in the middle.”