Astros: 2020 AL West preview has Houston as clear favorite
The Houston Astros are the favorites to win the AL West division in 2020.
Now that we actually have a baseball season to prepare for, we can look ahead to what the team’s expectations will be. Coming off their second American League pennant in three years and their third straight AL West title, the Houston Astros will be favorites to win the division once again.
Coming off a 107-win season, the Astros return most of their team. Gerrit Cole is gone to New York, but Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke return to headline the rotation. Lance McCullers Jr is rejoining the rotation after Tommy John surgery, and Jose Urquidy is looking to build off an impressive debut in 2019.
Pretty much the entire offense returns from a team that was third in the AL in runs scored last year. George Springer, Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel and Carlos Correa give the team a great deal of lineup depth, while Alex Bregman has emerged as a star and legitimate MVP candidate. Youngster Kyle Tucker is looking to supplant Josh Reddick in right field, and Myles Straw’s presence on the roster adds another dimension of speed.
The only real change on the field is the loss of catcher Robinson Chirinos, who provided above-average production last year. Defensive whiz Martin Maldonado, a veritable sniper behind the dish, will take the lion’s share of innings but doesn’t have the offensive profile of his predecessor.
The team’s bullpen should be solid at the back end with Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressly and Joe Smith. There’s upside in some young arms like Josh James and Framber Valdez, and veterans Chris Devenski and Brad Peacock will look to bounce back from disappointing 2019 campaigns.
In a 60-game season, health will be key for all teams. If the Astros can avoid being ravaged by the COVID-19 virus, pushing 40 wins would not be out of the question. There’s less margin for error in such a short campaign, but this team is built to make the postseason once again. New manager Dusty Baker has plenty of talent to work with.