3. Houston Astros (21–11, plus-33, LT: 2)

Want to build the third-best record in the AL, and the polar opposite of the terrible start that prevented a very good Astros team from making the playoffs last year? Bludgeon opponents into submission late in games, and ride a killer bullpen to ensure opponents can’t do the same.

So go the Astros, who lead the majors in hitting in close and late situations, while also shutting down opposing bats in the same spots. That’s how Houston’s racked up a league-leading 14 come-from-behind wins. And that’s how a team with a loaded lineup and a Cy Young candidate can outperform its already impressive collection of talent.

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