Why the Astros are the biggest threat
These guys are the new evil empire for a reason. They’ve embarrassed the New York Yankees for 8 seasons, they’ve won 5 division titles since 2017, 4 AL Pennants, and two championships. During this time they’ve had over a dozen stars leave. Cy Young level stars like Dallas Keuchel, Zack Greinke, and Gerrit Cole are gone. We already talked about Springer and Correa. Stars have come and gone, and they are replaced with younger, cheaper, and potentially better versions of themselves. They remind me of the San Antonio Spurs that won 50 games a year for 18 straight seasons, they are machines.
The 2022 Houston Astros boasted a lineup that had 7 starters that had an OPS+ over 100, 5 hitters with an OPS+ over 125, with Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez putting up a ridiculous 160 and 187 OPS+. With the addition of Jose Abreu and the potential return of Michael Brantley at some point, a healthy Astros offense could be even better in 2023.
While the rotation is losing the Cy Young winner in Verlander, they still have an incredible wealth of nasty arms. Guys like Cristian Javier, Framber Valdez, and Hunter Brown bring dynamic #1 level stuff, while Jose Urquidy and Luis Garcia are excellent back-of-the-rotation options. As long as bullpen arms Ryan Pressly, Rafael Montero, and Hector Neris continue to perform the way they did in the playoffs, then this is the deepest team in the American League, and the gap is still pretty dang wide heading into Opening Day.