While the start of the 2020 MLB regular season is on hold because of the current coronavirus pandemic, once play does get underway, the Houston Astros will take to the diamond as the most scrutinized ballclub in recent MLB history, if not all-time. Following their now, highly-publicized and costly cheating scandal that cost them GM Jeff Lunhow and manager A.J. Hinch, the Astros will look to reach their third World Series in the last four seasons. With that thought in mind, let’s find out what likely lies in store for the defending AL champs in 2020.
Houston Astros Analysis Before 2020 Season Start
Houston Astros 2020 MLB Season Odds
Houston Astros Offensive Analysis
Despite their embarrassing cheating scandal, Houston is still brimming with talent as evidenced by the fact that they won an MLB-best 107 games last season. The Astros finished the 2019 season ranked third in scoring (5.68), first in team batting average (.274), first in OPS (.848), and third in home runs (288).
26-year-old third baseman Alex Bregman hit 41 home runs with 112 RBI while George Springer added 39 homers and 96 RBI. 2017 AL MVP winner Jose Altuve smacked 31 home runs while Yuli Gurriel added 31 home runs and 104 RBI. Last, but not least, veteran left fielder Michael Brantley added 22 homers while batting a team-high .311. Add it all up, and the Astros possess one of the most potent offenses in all of baseball.
Houston Astros Defensive Analysis
Houston was also elite defensively in finishing the 2019 campaign ranked second in team ERA (3.66), second in WHIP (1.13), first in strikeouts per game (7.20), first in quality starts (89) and second in errors (70). The ageless Justin Verlander narrowly edged out teammate Gerrit Cole for last season’s AL Cy Young award after going 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA and a career-high 300 strikeouts.
While the loss of the talented Cole will hurt the starting rotation, there’s also no team more prepared to lose a star of such a high magnitude and still remain a legitimate World Series contender. Veteran right-hander Zack Greinke has posted identical 18-5 records the last two seasons while going a nearly unblemished 8-1 with a 3.02 ERA in 10 starts with Houston after last season’s monster trade. Right-handers Lance McCullers, Jose Urquidy and Brad Peacock round out the starting rotation while closer Roberto Osuna racked up 38 saves while posting a 2.63 ERA.
Houston Astros Off Season Movements
Named Dusty Baker manager. Agreed to terms with OF George Springer on a one-year contract. Agreed to terms with SS Carlos Correa, RHP Chris Devenski; RHP Roberto Osuna and RHP Brad Peacock on one-year contracts.
Houston Astros Prediction
Again, while Houston is mired in the midst of one of baseball’s biggest cheating-related scandals ever, the fact of the matter is that the Astros still have a ton of talent, both on the mound and in the field. In addition to that, I love Houston’s hiring of widely-respected manager Dusty Baker and I believe his player-friendly approach is just what the veteran-laden Astros will need to move past their embarrassing debacle. Scandal or not, I like Houston’s chances of challenging for the AL Pennant in 2020.