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Q&A with Ryan Dunsmore from Crawfish Boxes

Since the Twins are playing the Astros this weekend, I asked SB Nation’s resident Astros expert about the team and how their season is going.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Houston Astros
Minute Maid Park, where the Astros play, back when they still had the hill in the outfield (RIP).
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Twins are playing the Astros this weekend, and in case you missed it, the Astros have been the best team in the league, entering the All-Star Break with a 60-29 record.

Why have the Astros been so good? And what else have they been up to, besides just winning? For that, I exchanged some questions and answers with Ryan Dunsmore, the managing editor for SB Nation’s Astros website, Crawfish Boxes.

Read on to see what Dunsmore had to say!

Q: Why are the Astros so good?

A: They've had a good run of front office personnel over the past few years. Bobby Heck and Ed Wade hit on some of the key pieces for the Astros like Jose Altuve, Dallas Keuchel, and George Springer. Jeff Luhnow took that to a whole another level. Luhnow has taken the process he perfected at St. Louis and turned the Astros into a team with one of the business windows for success in baseball.

They're better than they were in 2015 and 2016 because they've added veterans that helped get this team over the hump in the lineup and mindset. Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Charlie Morton have made the Astros a World Series threat when the core already had them in the playoffs.

Q: Did you think the Astros would be this good before the season started?

A: I expected them to be good, yes. 60 wins at the break good? No. The Astros lineup has found another gear with runners in scoring position and two outs. The bullpen has been god-like. Both parts have carried the Astros with the starting rotation banged up.

Q: Do you think the Astros will even make any moves before the trade deadline?

A: I do think they will make a move or two. A left-handed reliever. A starting pitcher. Those are the two things I would be looking at. I don't think Jeff Luhnow will go all in and go after a Chris Archer or someone like that. I think Sonny Gray is more of a target because the price won't be high.

Q: Which Astros player has been the most surprising to you this season and why?

A: It seems strange to say it but for me, it has been George Springer. Springer came into the majors as Astros fans most anticipated prospects probably since Hunter Pence. And frankly, he didn't blow my socks off. He was good, very good at that. But he wasn't at a star level. In 2017, he's been a star and well-deserved All-Star. He has all five tools and brings a special dynamic to the lead off spot.

Q: Who is your favorite player on the team?

A: I've always been a fan of unique players that weren't in the spotlight. Maybe I'm being too hipster about it. But in years past, It would have been Robbie Grossman [Editor’s note: Woot!], Chris Carter, Jed Lowrie, and so on. The 2017 team is tough, the unique has worn off everyone or any of my positive thoughts have worn off of them. I would probably say, Evan Gattis.

Q: Do you miss the hill?

A: At first, I did. It was unique and it was ours. It didn't affect play more than 10 times a year. But I'll take more home runs and the great food places they put in center field in the hill’s place.

Q: Do you ever get used to how small Jose Altuve is?

A: Yeah, Jose Altuve's novelty wore off a long time ago. He's earned everyone's respect in Houston. I think of him more as a ball of energy now. It was great to hear the roar he got from fans at the all-star game.

Q: Do you reflect on how things could be different from the 2012 draft? (In the 2012 draft, the Astros selected Carlos Correa first overall, and the Twins selected Byron Bucton second overall.)

A: No, because Jeff Luhnow has proven to be an outside the box thinker when it comes to the Draft. It hasn't worked out for the Astros at times and when it does work it gets the Astros Carlos Correa.

Thanks again to Ryan Dunsmore for his answers!