Houston has spent most of the last decade picking at the top of the MLB amateur draft. They made no apologies for taking this strategy. Houston was finally heralded for their decision when the Astros made their first postseason appearance since 2005.
The Astros are in a similar situation as the Chicago Cubs. They both have a roster full of young talent and still have strong farm systems. They have the extra benefit of trading some youth for established talent or they could always just sit on them and keep developing. It’s a decision both teams will struggle with as they contend.
Could Carlos Correa or George Springer turn into potential MVP candidates?
Here is the 2016 MLB season preview for the Houston Astros.
2015 Win/Loss Record: 86-76
Key Additions: RP Ken Giles, SP Doug Fister, RP Neal Cotts, SP Wandy Rodriguez & 2B Danny Worth
Key Losses: 1B Chris Carter, 3B Jed Lowrie, SP Scott Kazmir, SP Brett Oberholtzer, RP Chad Qualls, SP Vince Velasquez, RP Joe Thatcher, RP Oliver Perez, C Hank Conger, SS Jonathan Villar & OF Robbie Grossman
Interleague Schedule: NL Central
Projected Starters: Jason Castro, Jon Singleton, Jose Altuve, Luis Valbuena, Carlos Correa, Colby Rasmus, Carlos Gomez, George Springer & Evan Gattis
Projected Starting Rotation: Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers, Doug Fister & Scott Feldman
Closer: Ken Giles
Fantasy Sleeper: 1B A.J. Reed – Reed has to win the first base job, but he doesn’t have much competition. Jon Singleton has had every opportunity to win the job in the past, but he has never held onto it. Reed is only 22 years old, but he hit .340 and knocked 34 homers in-between High-A and Double-A last season. It would be a huge jump to the Majors, but if he plays well in Spring Training, he could be a nice sleeper.
Prospects To Keep Your Eye On: 3B Colin Moran – Luis Valbuena hit for power last season for the Astros, but his batting average was abysmal. Moran has his for average in back-to-back seasons at Double-A and has a little pop. He has yet to cracked double-digit homers in Double-A, but he has hit a lot of extra-base hits. He could be a nice replacement for Valbuena if he struggles at the plate again.
Team Analysis: Astros fans didn’t expect this team to reach the playoffs last season. They started the season on fire and proved to be no fluke. They even added Carlos Gomez later in the year. Did they overachieve last year?
We’ve seen young teams have a big year and then fall back down to Earth the next year. I don’t see that happening in Houston. The organization took their sweet time rebuilding the team and picked high in the draft for many years. Their farm system is still pretty stacked even though most of their roster is home-grown.
I’m curious to see what a full year of a Correa/Springer/Gomez/Altuve lineup. Their speed will prove to be annoying to defenses. I expect Gomez to bounce back from an average season last year. He is protected in this lineup, so he should see some good pitches.
Houston might have the 2nd or 3rd best bullpen this year. I liked the Ken Giles acquisition, but they could have paid a little too much in the long-term. They need a strong bullpen since the back-end of their rotation isn’t very strong. I would love to see them acquire another front-of-the-line starter before the trade deadline. They will battle Texas and Los Angeles for the AL West crown.
2016 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 88 (Prediction: OVER)
2016 Projected Win/Loss Record: 90-72 (1st AL West)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.