The reasons why the Astros have the best offense in baseball even with former MVP Jose Altuve on the shelf

The Houston Astros own the best record in baseball at 29-15, have the best run differential by a mile (plus-87, with the next best being plus-62) and have the longest current winning streak at eight games. As far as the pitching goes, they are sitting with the second-best ERA in the AL heading into Thursday. Suffice to say this team is awesome.

Enough about the pitching, though. Let's focus on the bats. This team absolutely mashes and it's doing so without Jose Altuve

The 2017 AL MVP is currently on the injured list and is hitting just .243/.329/.472 compared to a career mark of .314/.364/.454. It hasn't really mattered, because his teammates have more than picked him up. 

Brace yourselves, as we're about to look at just how off-the-hook the Astros offense has been. 

  • The Astros lead the majors with a .282 team batting average. The Twins are second at .262 and the league average is .244. 
  • The Astros lead the majors with a .354 on-base percentage. The Cubs are second at .346 and the league average is .319. 
  • The Astros lead the majors with a .512 slugging percentage. The Twins are second at .495 and third place is the Mariners at .462. The league average? .418. The Marlins are in last at a pitiful .307. 
  • The team OPS+ for the Astros is 131, which is better than that of Justin Turner, Paul Goldschmidt, Ronald Acuna, Manny Machado, Bryce Harper and a host of other studs. 

Going by OPS+, the Astros have six players at least 50 percent better than league average. 

Poor Josh Reddick is only hitting .333/.388/.444 for a 126 OPS+. The dude is getting hits in one-third of his at-bats and he's looking like the seventh or eighth best hitter on the team. 

Baseball-Reference has a feature where you can view "wins above average" (a similar formula to WAR) by position and see how each team ranks. Here's how the Astros rank by position in the majors: 

POSITIONRANK

Catcher

5th

First base

19th

Second base

16th

Third base

1st

Shortstop

5th

Left field

1st

Center field

2nd

Right field

6th

Designated hitter

3rd

Altuve coming back and playing like himself solves second base. Otherwise they're basically elite everywhere except Yuli Gurriel at first. 

Everything isn't always going to be rosy this year, but the Astros have already faced adversity. They were 2-5 to start the year. They lost six of nine a few weeks later. Altuve hasn't been right. 

And yet, the best team in baseball has been collectively hitting like an All-Star all season. The Red Sox are going to have their hands full this weekend. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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