Astros: 2020 AL West preview has Houston as clear favorite

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 10: Houston Astros sit in the dugout during the spring training game against the New York Mets at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on March 10, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 10: Houston Astros sit in the dugout during the spring training game against the New York Mets at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on March 10, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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PEORIA, ARIZONA – MARCH 10: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels gets ready in the batters box during a spring training game against the Seattle Mariners at Peoria Stadium on March 10, 2020 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
PEORIA, ARIZONA – MARCH 10: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels gets ready in the batters box during a spring training game against the Seattle Mariners at Peoria Stadium on March 10, 2020 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels finished in fourth place with a 72-90 record last year, but don’t let that fool you. They made a couple of major additions in the offseason, with one coming in the dugout. New manager Joe Maddon has the World Series pedigree and leads a bunch that’s not short on talent.

The other major addition was third baseman Anthony Rendon, fresh off his World Series victory with the Nationals. He joins the consensus best player in the game in Mike Trout to form an imposing duo in the middle of the lineup. With Shohei Ohtani back to DH most days, this could be a dangerous lineup if outfielder Justin Upton is able to bounce back from a rough 2019 season.

TEMPE, AZ – FEBRUARY 27: Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels smiles during a Los Angeles Angels Spring Training on February 27, 2020 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
TEMPE, AZ – FEBRUARY 27: Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels smiles during a Los Angeles Angels Spring Training on February 27, 2020 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images) /

They’ll be solid on defense as well with Trout, Rendon and glove whiz Andrelton Simmons occupying some key positions. The same goes behind the plate with a pair of former Astros in Jason Castro and Max Stassi. Longtime nemesis Albert Pujols is still around as well to add some extra pop to their lineup.

As always, the question is with their pitching. The Angels didn’t have a single pitcher make 20 starts for them in 2019, so they brought in Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy to add some stability. Ohtani will be back in the rotation as well, which could be like adding a potential ace. Andrew Heaney and Griffin Canning appear likely to make the rotation as well, but keeping everyone healthy has been tough for this team in recent seasons.

Hansel Robles did well as the closer in 2019 and should continue in that role. Cam Bedrosian, Ty Buttrey and Ryan Buchter will be relied upon to get key outs as well, but the specific makeup of the bullpen has some uncertainty. Maddon may have to figure some things out in camp and as the season goes along.

But with good health, this team could be plenty dangerous. I would expect them to at least be in the 30-win range but there’s a higher ceiling if things break right. Their pitching staff will have to step up for that to happen, but the potential is certainly there.

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