​If you’re feeling Astros déjà vu, here’s why

The Astros are crushing the baseball. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

No, MLB has not given the Astros permission to print World Series tickets just yet, and nobody's counting down their "magic number," but this way-too-early season sure feels like 2017 and 2019, the Astros last two trips to the Fall Classic.

Despite Monday night's late score, a 7-6 loss to the Los Angeles Angels, the Astros are sitting at 4-1 on the year, including a dominating sweep of the defending American League West champs A's. That was a hell of a start on the road in Oakland. Only three other teams in history scored 8 or more runs in their first four games like the Astros did.

I remember that familiar feeling from 2017. I'd get home, turn on the TV and just assume the Astros would be up by a few runs heading into the sixth or seventh inning. That's one of the best things about baseball's crazy long 162-game season, there's rarely "nothing on TV" – there's almost always an Astros game.

Look at the top of the Astros batting order: Jose Altuve is back to being Jose Altuve slashing .381, Michael Brantley is crushing a ridiculous .667, Alex Bregman is at .471, Yuli Gurriel is at .500, supersub Aledmys Diaz is .375, Carlos Correa is back up to .273 and Yordan Alvarez is healthy and driving in runs at .273.

How have the Astros lost even one game?

The Astros are a mashing machine, racking up 42 runs in their five games. That's all-time record stratosphere.

The Astros swagger is back. It may (maybe not) have been unintentional, but recently tatted Correa was badass knocking A's All-Star Matt Chapman on his butt with a tag on a double play ball.

Like most fans, Alex Bregman put on the "COVID 15" pounds, except his is muscle. The Astros aren't trembling over fans' jeers. If fans in other stadiums want to bang trash cans, bang away. Scoreboard.

The Astros are doing this despite losing Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, George Springer and Josh Reddick over the past couple of seasons. Manager A.J. Hinch and g.m. Jeff Luhnow, too. They've reloaded.

Sure, not all is joy in Mudville. The Astros starting pitching has been concerning, only one quality start (six innings or more with fewer than three earned runs) – Zack Greinke on Opening Day. And he did it just barely, going six innings in an 8-1 Astros win.

While the top of the Astros lineup has been historic, the bottom of the order is a little like Little League with semi-automatic outs. Kyle Tucker is scuffling at .182, Myles Straw is struggling at .176, and Martin Maldonado is laying low at .063.

Still there's no getting around it (you can look it up), the Astros are scoring runs at a ridiculous rate. After five games, a small but significant sampling because they've been on the road against their two main AL West rivals, the Astros are averaging 8.4 runs a game. The Astros are a swinging team all right.

To place the Astros' run production in perspective, no team ever has averaged as many as seven runs a game over a season. The all-time bashing team was the 1931 Yankees, with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig both swatting 48 homers to lead the American League. That year, the Yankees averaged 6.97 runs per game. They also led the league in batting average, homers, on base percentage, slugging and stolen bases. Gehrig set the American League record with 184 RBI.

Now before we get too giddy over the Astros' fritzing out the scoreboard on a daily basis …

The 1931 Yankees finished in second place, a distant 13-1/2 games behind the Philadelphia A's.

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The Rockets selected Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images.

The city of Houston can finally rejoice as Jalen Green was selected as the number two pick by the Rockets at the 2021 NBA Draft. It was already suspected that the Rockets would draft Green from past reports. Shams Charania of The Athletic already reported that the Rockets narrowed their decision down to Green.

Green is an explosive shooting guard that can get in-and-out amongst the perimeter and paint. With the G-League Ignite, he averaged 17.9 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He is an excellent free throw shooter at 82.9 percent. Like James Harden, he is incredibly good at getting to the free throw line. Green has a good trigger from three by shooting 36.5 percent on 5.7 attempts a game. His mature status since high school has prepared him for the NBA.

"His down-hill playmaking is really hard to guard", as Joey Fucca, his ex-coach told TDS. "If he says he's going to get to the rim, good luck. He is very good at getting to the free throw line, he is also very explosive to finish above the rim. When his three ball is on, you're just going to have a long night. I wouldn't be excited to guard him."

Green has blistering speed with outstanding handles to blow by his defenders and score. Spectators have compared Green to a younger Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Bradley Beal, and Zach Lavine, which are superstar players. He is a particularly good midrange shooter underneath the perimeter, as he shot 35 percent on a small quantity of attempts in a shorter season.

"Jalen is a uniquely blessed guy. He's a transcendent athlete," as Rockets GM Rafael Stone said. "He can handle the ball, and he can shoot. Normally, people that athletic aren't as skilled. We think that combination of tools makes him an extraordinarily exciting prospect."

During his press conference on Thursday night, Green emphasized the achievements he wants to accomplish with the Rockets. Green even discussed his desire of being a better defender, as he wants to continue to get better. He has a great wingspan and lateral movement to stay with opposing players on defense and be disruptive in the passing lanes.

"They're going to say it's a great choice," Green said. "Rookie of the Year, All-Star, All-Defense, max contract. We're doing it big."

"Yeah, I think I can be that piece. I think I'm going to bring that dominant mentality, that defensive mindset…They already got a lot of star players"

As the draft continued, the Rockets sent future draft picks from the Wizards to land the 16th pick in the draft, which was 6'10 Alperen Sengun from Turkey. The 16th pick did belong to the Oklahoma City Thunder until Rafael Stone executed an interesting deal with Sam Presti.

"We did not think he would fall to us at 23, so we were really aggressive to try and move up all throughout the first round to acquire him," as Stone said.

Sengun's abilities on the court revolve around his post ups and skillful passing. He even maintains good feet along the baseline. In his press conference, he mentioned his passing skills can become better. There are clips of him looking impressive on shovel passes, passing the ball behind his back, and finding the cutting man towards the basket. Sengun looked good in double teams by showing he can still find the open man with his back turned.

While playing in the Turkish Super League, Sengun was an MVP at 18-years-old, averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assist, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. He could be another huge figure next to Christian Wood on the court, and a safety blanket for the Rockets if they cannot bring back Kelly Olynyk.

Usman Garbua is similar to former Rocket Luc Mbah a Moute. He is 6'8 with a tremendous wingspan at 7'3 and can guard anyone on the court, which is 1-5. Garbua was seen guarding Kevin Durant in the Team USA vs. Spain matchup and had interesting battles. The Rockets will get a ton of energy out of the 19-year-old player. He knows how to run the floor in transition, so he can finish around the rim. As I see it, he could be on a defensive first team in the future as he matures more. Garbua will become a defensive nightmare against opposing players.

"I think he's the best defender in the world outside of the NBA, and he's just 19 years old," Stone said. "I think he potentially could be really, really impactful on that side of the ball."

As the Rockets made their last selection, they selected Green's AAU buddy, Josh Christopher from Arizona State. He impressed a ton of scouts during his draft workouts and scrimmage against other prospects. Christopher had a double-double during his third scrimmage, which was 16 points and 10 rebounds. He is a very shifty guard with a ferocious step back.

While playing with the Sun Devils, he averaged 14.3 points per game and shot 49 percent from the field. Just like Green, he loved the midrange opportunities, as he shot 49.6 percent underneath the perimeter. He is another shifty big body the Rockets will have in their back court at 6'5. Christopher is very good at rebounding and playing defense. Stone loves watching him in defensive one-on-one situations. Christopher has Sixth Man of the Year written all over him because of his stocky body type and upside.

Hopefully, the Rockets have an exciting summer league and training camp along with their season.

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