The Astros will be baseball’s most scrutinized team this year thanks to the revelation of their cheating scandal during the offseason, but they also enter as favorites to win the American League despite a brand-new GM, manager and losing a player who just signed the richest contract in MLB history by a pitcher. Their lineup looks like arguably the best in baseball, likely to lead MLB in runs scored despite Minute Maid Park typically favoring pitching.
Jose Altuve and George Springer have seen mild discounts in many drafts thanks to the uncertainty of 2020’s ramifications, while Carlos Correa has never been cheaper thanks to continued durability issues as well. Kyle Tucker has an intriguing power/speed combo and is a nice prospect, but he also enters the year as a fourth outfielder.
Yordan Alvarez hit .343 with 23 homers over just 213 at-bats in Triple-A last season and then had a higher wRC+ (178) after getting called up by the Astros. Only Mike Trout posted a better mark (180) than the rookie, who was seeing his first taste of major league pitching.
Alvarez’s knees appear to be an issue worth monitoring, but hopefully a full-time DH role keeps his bat in the lineup (while remaining OF eligible in Yahoo leagues this year). Alvarez absolutely has the talent to be one of the league’s five-best hitters this season.
Justin Verlander is this year’s biggest boom-or-bust pick, as he has the upside be fantasy’s No. 1 overall player but is also a 37-year-old pitcher with a lot of mileage who’s coming off groin surgery and a strained lat muscle that was originally ruled a triceps injury. The delayed start to the season obviously helps Verlander since he should be ready now, but he’s still awfully risky for someone with such a high ADP.
Zack Greinke is as dependable as it gets, and then Houston is loaded with upside arms in Lance McCullers, Jose Urquidy, and Josh James, all of whom carry low floors with added injury risk. Yet, all three have top-25 SP fantasy type upside if things break right. Former top prospect Forrest Whitley still looms as a potential ace down the road as well.
The Astros are overflowing with talent, yet the baseball world will seemingly be rooting against them, which should make for an entertaining season (and one of the very best teams for fantasy purposes in multiple ways this year).