How Astros have improved

Jose Altuve (27) has improved his baserunning this season. Matt Marton/USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros have been in a multiyear rebuild, and their efforts are finally starting to pay off at the major league level. George Springer and Jon Singleton have each made their debuts for the team this season. Prospects such as Carlos Correa, Mark Appel and Mike Foltynewicz are expected to join them over the next year or two. If their stockpile of young talent fulfills its potential, the Astros could at some point follow the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays with a worst-to-first turnaround driven by a potent farm system.

Most will assume that the Astros need that complete roster turnover before they can become competitive again, but that may not be the case. Many of their best players have improved significantly this season from where they were when they represented the core of a team that lost 100 or more games in three consecutive seasons. They may not all be stars, but their improvements can make them valuable pieces of a competitive roster, and that competitiveness might come much sooner than many expect.

Jose Altuve | Baserunning

It's funny to think of Altuve as one of the key veterans on the team since he is still just 24 years old, but this is his fourth year in the majors. With two All-Star selections in those four seasons, Altuve is probably the closest thing the team has to a star player.

But despite those accolades, he has been a flawed player.