*Degree of pleasantness may vary for fans of AL West competitors.
Despite early projections that they would field a below-average team, Houston currently occupies the top spot in the AL West with a three-game lead on the Los Angeles Angels. Even better, the Astros' 48-36 record at the start of play on Monday, June 6, puts them one half game behind the Kansas City Royals for the best record in the American League. Not bad for a team that tied last season's Minnesota Twins with a 70-92 record, outperforming only the hapless Texas Rangers.
My ratings system has considered the 2015 Houston Astros an average-or-better team since mid-to-late April and ranks George Springer's squad among the best in all of baseball at the approximate halfway point. At the conclusion of play on June 5th, Houston's .557 RP Score trails the Oakland Athletics (yes, really) for the AL lead by decimal points, while the two AL leaders trail only the St. Louis Cardinals (.573) and Los Angeles Dodgers (.569) on the MLB leaderboard.
Their strong record to date combines with a favorable RP Score to project a successful finish for Houston. Today's projections, based on a Monte Carlo simulation of the remainder of the 2015 season perfomed 1,024 times, incorporating my RP Score ratings and using the Log 5 method generate win probabilities, give the Astros a median win total of 90. Compared to the median projected win totals of other squads, this leaves Houston in a tie with Kansas City and trailing only the Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals, Dodgers and Cardinals.
According to the same simulation, there is a 5% chance that the Astros log as many as 97 wins or as few as 83. Each of these totals is four better than their closest division rival, Los Angeles. This despite the fact that the Angels have slightly more home games remaining (48% vs. 47%) and a slightly easier remaining strength of schedule (.509 vs. .513).
Should these projections hold, expect the Houston Astros to make their first postseason appearance since 2005, when they fell to Ozzie Guillen's Chicago White Sox in that season's World Series. For more information on the methodology behind my RP Score ratings system and MLB projections, please visit their respective pages.