Are the Houston Astros the most improved team in the AL West? Is it a loaded question? Yes. But that’s not the point. Obviously the worst team is the easiest to improve, but it stands to show that the Astros are competitive and want to continue to improve as soon as possible and by any means possible.
In an offseason that was ripe with opportunity, the Astros watched all of their division rivals take in big-name players that they’ll have now to face on a regular basis. What was once Albert Pujols to the Los Angeles Angels has now multiplied into more of an epidemic. The AL West was the most frequented destination of the biggest named free agents and the biggest trades.
The Texas Rangers pulled in Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo, the Seattle Mariners signed Robinson Cano and the Oakland Athletics continued to breed their own brand of baseball and remain competitive.
However, it was the Astros who improved the most. They answered all their needs, save maybe for a first baseman. If Jonathan Singleton pans out, that won’t be a worry. Their bullpen has been bolstered by quality relievers headlined by Matt Albers and Chad Qualls. Their prospects are beginning to make their names at the major league level as proven by their starting rotation last year, led by the heroics of Jarred Cosart.
George Springer continues to be on the brink of piercing the pros and now Dexter Fowler is added to the mix in the outfield as well. Scott Feldman was an excellent improvement, an innings-eating pitcher that lives on quality starts. The losses were minuscule. Brandon Barnes and Jordan Lyles were shipped off, but their production was always limited in Houston anyway.
The Astros may not have pulled in the big-name guys like Choo or James Loney, but their team is the most improved overall in the most powerful division in baseball.