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OK maybe ‘Sports Illustrated’ was right about the 2017 Astros

Thursday’s Say Hey, Baseball looks at the dominance of the Astros, Mr. Met flipping off a fan, and Bryce Harper’s reduced suspension.

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Back in the summer of 2014, Sports Illustrated released an issue of their magazine with a cover that got a whole lot of people riled up. Said cover included the words "Your 2017 World Series champs" in reference to the Astros, who, at the time, were 33-46 and in last place in the AL West. Fast-forward to June 1 of 2017, and the Astros have the best record in Major League Baseball at 38-16, with a commanding 11-game lead over the second-place Angels.

The Sports Illustrated cover wasn't as outrageous at the time as some claimed — sure, it was funny as hell to see a prediction like that, but baseball teams run in cycles, and the Astros' farm system was ready for harvesting. Grant Brisbee even noted at the time that, since teams tend to run in three-year cycles, the Cubs facing the Astros in the 2017 World Series probably wouldn't sound ridiculous by then. And hey, look at that.

The Astros have the best lineup in baseball, and it's not close: their OPS+ is 126, while the second-highest in the league is the Nationals at 114. While the Astros clearly need another starter to give them depth and comfort, between the Dallas Keuchel renaissance, Lance McCullers, and a bullpen full of strikeouts, they still have managed to rank seventh in the majors and fourth in the AL in ERA+.

The Astros might reach 300 runs scored before all 30 teams have even crossed the 200-run threshold. They've scored 90 more runs than they've allowed even with a rotation that isn't quite where it needs to be. If they go just .500 the rest of the way, given they already have 38 wins, they'd still win 92 games. It's still way too early in the season to know if they'll actually win the World Series — hell, the Indians were literally one game away from being champs last year and couldn't pull it off — but you can forgive if any SI editors feel a little smug about their mag's prediction this summer.