Houston Astros: A Snapshot of the 2017 AL West competition

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Sep 13, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Texas Rangers third baseman Jurickson Profar (19) steals second base while Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) is late with the tag in the ninth inning at Minute Maid Park. Texas won 3 to 2 . Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 13, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Texas Rangers third baseman Jurickson Profar (19) steals second base while Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) is late with the tag in the ninth inning at Minute Maid Park. Texas won 3 to 2 . Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports /
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Houston Astros: (+500 to win AL Pennant)

Sep 13, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Texas Rangers third baseman Jurickson Profar (19) steals second base while Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) is late with the tag in the ninth inning at Minute Maid Park. Texas won 3 to 2 . Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 13, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Texas Rangers third baseman Jurickson Profar (19) steals second base while Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) is late with the tag in the ninth inning at Minute Maid Park. Texas won 3 to 2 . Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports /

Key Additions: DH Carlos Beltran, OF Josh Reddick, OF Nori Aoki, C Brian McCann, SP Charlie Morton

Key Departures: C Jason Castro, 3B Luis Valbuena, SP Doug Fister, OF Colby Rasmus

What happened in 2016.

The Astros have been one of the busiest teams this offseason, signing some noted veterans to their lineup that was the youngest in the league last year. The Astro lineup will now feature George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Yulieski Gurriel, and the fore-mentioned arrivals. This has Houston slotted to have one of the best all-around lineups in baseball.

The consensus is that for this club to achieve the expectation of competing for a world series, the pitching staff will need to improve. Dallas Keuchel took a significant step back from last season. Lance McCullers was injury ridden for the bookends of the season, and Collin McHugh, Mike Fiers, and a combination of other starters could not provide enough consistency to get the club into the playoffs.

What about 2017?

Adding Morton to the staff, in replacement of Fister, was a move made in hopes that Morton can continue to get a lot of ground balls.  In Minute Maid Park, this is a necessity, especially with the CF fence moving in this year, RIP Tal’s Hill.

Consistency was a major issue in the bullpen as well.  Houston rotated through three closers, Luke Gregerson, Will Harris, and Ken Giles.  Giles ended the season relatively well, and is expected to assume the role he was acquired to handle.

If the Astros are to make a serious contention for a world championship, they will likely need to acquire a front end-starter.  This will come at a high price, but luckily for the Astros, multiple years of 100+ loss seasons has stocked the farm system well.

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