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2018 AL West division preview: The Astros come swaggering into town

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Fresh off a World Series win, who knows how these lovable former-underdogs will react?

MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at Houston Astros
One of the big moves for the Astros last year.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros

Who?

The reining world champs. They’re good, and...that’s really about it. They’re gracious about winning, not arrogant, and just flat-out good. If we have to lose to someone, I’d rather it be them. And this is after they added Justin Verlander.

Were they even good last year?

I’m not going to answer this question.

What’d they do this offseason?

Fresh off their World Series, win, the Astros went out and shored up some of the back end of their bullpen and their rotation. You have now heard of every one of the Houston Astros on the 25-man roster. In fact, they’re so good now I bet we would find a place to start every single one of them if they magically showed up on the Angels’ doorstep. (In the case of George Springer, don’t tell me there’s not an ripe place in right field for him to show out and flat-out dominate.) They added Joe Smith and Hector Rondon, two former closers, to their relief forces. To put the cherry on top of this very sweet milkshake, Jeff Luhnow managed to swing a deal for Pittsburgh Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, planting him right smack dab in the middle of a very powerful rotation. If you think the Astros took the offseason off, you are wrong.

Projected Lineup:

George Springer CF

Alex Bregman 3B

Jose Altuve 2B

Carlos Correa SS

Yuli Gurriel 1B

Josh Reddick RF

Evan Gattis DH

Brian McCann C

Marwin Gonzalez LF

Projected Rotation:

Justin Verlander RHP

Dallas Keuchel LHP

Gerrit Cole RHP

Lance McCullers Jr. RHP

Charlie Morton RHP

Projected Closer:

Ken Giles RHP

What is their strength?

Everywhere they have a baseball player, that can be considered a strength. They even got rid of Tyler Clippard! But the backbone of the Astros now lies in the three players up-the-middle (Springer, Altuve, Correa) and their three frontline starters (Verlander, Keuchel, Cole).

What is their weakness?

...World Series hangover? The minute chances of injury?

The Cubs in 2017 stumbled out of the gate, and the Angels know all too well the perils of injuries. We never know.

Seriously, if you come up with something, comment it below, because I can’t think of anything right now.

So, what can we expect?

We can expect the Astros to be very good, win a lot of games, and more than quite possibly win the division. But, this is baseball, and we trot nine guys out there every single game, same as the Astros do, so...we never know. Let’s do something unexpected and steal the division from them, shall we?

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

Let’s hope we win enough games so they don’t bulldoze us over.

Previously in this series: The Mariners