Each contender's best decision this season

Whether it was pulling off a blockbuster trade like the Astros' deal for Gerrit Cole or giving a youngster the chance to shine, we examine the one move that has helped put each club in the hunt over the top. Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Decisions. We all make them. We even make them when we don't realize we're making them. You, for example, decided to click on this article. Right now, you're deciding whether to continue reading this article. We make hundreds, thousands of decisions every day, and for every one, we make our choice based upon the best information available at the time. Every decision involves a subconscious calculation involving cost and possible consequences.

Of course, we factor in what we think is going to happen, and then there is what actually happens. Sometimes, the two are pretty much one and the same. Other times, they're not. In such instances, it may appear we made a bad decision. But sometimes things go awry simply because of bad luck.

This post will focus on the positive. Just as individuals make decisions, so do baseball teams. Considering the 13 clubs jockeying for spots in the postseason, what is the best decision each contender has made this year?

Two quick points before we get to my answers (listed alphabetically by team name). One, when I say "this year," I'm using the baseball calendar, which begins at the start of each offseason. And two, I don't consider it a decision to, say, not release Mookie Betts. Gotta be realistic. We begin with the defending champs.


Trading for Gerrit Cole

It's worth remembering that, at the time, it wasn't clear the Astros were trading for an ace. There was an argument, in fact, that the Pirates did pretty well to land an assortment of major league players in return for a pitcher who seemed like he might have peaked. Among qualified starters in 2017, Cole ranked in the 59th percentile in strikeout rate. Now, in 2018, he ranks behind only Chris Sale in that department.

The Astros didn't just trade for what Cole was -- they traded for what they believed they could turn Cole into. They saw his potential, and they've helped turn that potential into results. Cole is now one of multiple Astros aces, which is a sentence the other American League teams don't want to read.