For a second consecutive season, Baseball Prospectus' Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm (better known as PECOTA) is projecting the Houston Astros to win the American League West.
Of course, thanks to a poor April, injuries, the Texas Rangers'
deal with the devil historic record in one-run games and more, the Astros did not win the AL West in 2016 while missing the playoffs entirely. However, Houston has continued to build with additions of Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Josh Reddick, Nori Aoki, Charlie Morton and more which has led to projection systems liking the Astros quite a bit. Not only are the Astros picked to win the West, PECOTA also projects Houston to have the AL's best record.
Perhaps most interesting, Houston is projected to allow the fewest runs in the AL and the second fewest in all of baseball (behind the Dodgers). Many questions have been raised regarding the quality of Houston's starting rotation, but PECOTA apparently thinks they have more than enough.
PECOTA also thinks the AL West could be the best division in baseball. It's the only division that has three teams projected for 85-win seasons with Seattle pegged for 87 wins and Texas projected for 85.
Once again, the Astros are among MLB's best on paper, and these projections can be very useful, but sometimes baseball doesn't always play out as you'd expect.