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2017 AL West division preview: Once again, the Astros are looking scary good

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Houston Astros v New York Mets Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Houston Astros

Who?

The Houston Astros are those guys that used to have a hill wayyyyy out in their outfield, but after years of people scratching their heads at said hill, it has now been removed. They are still the team that has a train in their stadium, though, so that’s cool.

OK, for reals, though...the Astros were kind of a joke when they came into the AL West, at least in my head they were. But then their long-term plans for rebuilding began to come to fruition, and they got pretty good and now I’m annoyed that they’re in the AL West.

Were they even good last year?

They were many peoples’ favorites to win the whole division, if not the whole MLB enchilada, but baseball is a humbling game and they ended up finishing in 3rd place, a couple games behind the 2nd place Mariners. They made the playoffs the year before, and were primed for a big season but they had let down after let down, and alas, baseball writers who chose them as their big favorite in pre-season (like myself) ended up looking as wrong as wrong can be.

What’d they do this offseason?

They did a lot, actually. They picked up an aging Brian McCann, but he’ll be an improvement in their backstop situation. They also got Josh Reddick into the fold, for their OF, and he’s no slouch. Carlos Beltran is back in Houston, too, as their DH. For the rotation, a notable new ‘Stro is Charlie Morton, who should be their #2 starter.

I have to think that if I’m an Astros fan, I’m pretty happy with these additions, and how they’ll compliment their younger/bigger stars.

What is their strength?

Their strength is having some potent, youthful stars in the form of Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman. That’s quite the fearsome foursome, and their off-season acquisitions are only going to bolster that group’s output. These guys should have no problem putting runs on the board. Like, a lot.

What is their weakness?

I don’t think Houston has that bad of arms on their team, but if I’m having to pick a weakness, pitching would be what comes to mind. They need Dallas Keuchel to get back to Cy Young form, and they’ll need the previously-mentioned Charlie Morton and other arms, like Mike Fiers or Lance McCullers, to give their A-games if they want to stand a chance against an AL West division that is capable of giving ERAs a big jump in the wrong direction.

So, what can we expect?

This Astros team is not going to be a pushover whatsoever, and they’ll give any AL West team a run for their money. Their lineup has a handful of different ways in which they’ll be able to hurt opponents, and the defense will be strong.

Most people, like last year, are calling the Astros the team to beat this season in the AL West, and I’m inclined to agree. But at the same time, I think the AL West may be the most competitive division in the AL by far, so much so that it makes it hard to settle on one team to win it all (unless I’m being a total homer, in which case do you really have to guess who I think will take the division title?).

They’ve got the pieces, the youth, the vets, the mojo and a train in their stadium. The path to glory is there, but as Angels fans, let’s just hope that the Astros don’t fire on all cylinders, because if they do, we’re all toast. A Houston team that is performing like they were built to perform is going to become Buddy Revell, and the Angels are going to have a gnarly fight on their hands, so let’s not try to rile them up, ok?

What’s the most accurate representation of this team, in GIF form?