Who are the Astros’ biggest threats to repeat as AL Champions?

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HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: George Springer #4 and Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros celebrate after defeating the New York Yankees by a score of 4-0 to win Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Houston Astros advance to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: George Springer #4 and Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros celebrate after defeating the New York Yankees by a score of 4-0 to win Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Houston Astros advance to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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ARLINGTON, TX – APRIL 01: Joey Gallo
ARLINGTON, TX – APRIL 01: Joey Gallo /

Unless a catastrophe happens, the Astros should win the AL West. But if a contender emerges, who could challenge them for the division title?

Los Angeles Angels

Team Batting: 4.47 RS/G

Team Pitching: 4.13 RA/G

The Angels went out and signed Shohei Ohtani in the off-season. Once rumored to be interested in Houston, the highly coveted pitcher stayed in the division. The Angels bats are to be reckoned with. Mike Trout, Zack Cozart, Ian Kinsler, Albert Pujols and Ohtani himself are all dangerous and that’s just to name a few. Garrett Richards and Ohtani are projected to win 10 and 11 games respectively this season. The Astros beat the Angels 12-7 head-to-head last season.

Threat Level: 4

Seattle Mariners

Team Batting: 4.21 RS/G

Team Pitching: 4.31 RA/G

The Seattle Mariners seem to have a potent lineup this season and are a team on the rise. They had a busy offseason acquiring RHP Mike Morin and signed RHP Juan Nicasio. They also picked up CF Dee Gordon. Veterans Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz are household names that bring the lumber every season. The pitching although remains a huge question mark. James Paxton is their clear ace but health is an issue. They need a few more arms to contend in the West. Houston dominated the head-to-head series last season 14-5.

Threat Level: 2

Oakland Athletics

Team Batting: 4.28 RS/G

Team Pitching: 4.41 RA/G

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, the Oakland Athletics are going to be this year’s “sleeper team.” They had a solid offseason adding Alexander Campos and pitcher Emilio Pagan. They also acquired Ramon Laureano from the Astros and signed RHP Yusmeiro Petit in free agency. The Athletics held on to a young and already potent lineup also. They have one of the best farm systems in the league also. Does this remind you of a certain team? Houston beat the Athletics 12-7 last year In their 19 head to head games.

Threat Level: 3

Texas Rangers

Team Batting: 4.35 RS/G

Team Pitching: 4.52 RA/G

The Texas Rangers are rolling out the season with a unique approach. It may work well for them, it may not. The season is certainly long enough. They plan on using a six-man rotation. In efforts to lengthen quality starts for Cole Hamels who is 34 and not landing any big names in free agency, the Rangers will use 6 pitchers to manufacture rest and health. Not a bad idea when Doug Fister is your number 2 followed by Matt Moore, Martin Perez, Mike Minor and Matt Bush. They added Catcher Juan Centeno off waiver from Houston to their lineup. Their spring training wasn’t promising but it’s the Rangers. You never know what to expect from them. Houston won the season series last year 12-7 and beat them 3-1 in opening series this year.

Threat Level: 1

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