Why the Astros will exceed their projected win total
The Houston Astros finished the regular season last year with 101 wins and then wrapped up the season by doing what every team dreams of doing, winning the last game of the year.
They come into this season as the defending World Series Champions and have the highest over/under win total, at 96.5 wins, coming into this season, and rightfully so.
This team not only returns all their major pieces but added Gerrit Cole, Hector Rondon, and Joe Smith to strengthen their pitching staff.
So, we've got the lineup, returning MVP Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, George Springer and the rest of the crew. As far as the rotation goes, Cole joins Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, and Lance McCullers Jr. Ken Giles will get the first crack at the closers role but there are other guys with nasty stuff who could fill that role like Rondon, Chris Devenski, Brad Peacock, and Will Harris.
Now, lets look at the division they play in, the AL West. The Oakland A's have been in constant rebuild mode since losing in the playoffs to the Royals in 2014 and the Seattle Mariners can never seem to make the quantum leap regardless of their talent. The Texas Rangers are going to be interesting to watch this year, they've had some good talent but this feels like a year where things might fall apart early and management might try to trade away some of their higher priced players. As for the Los Angeles, the one team that might have a chance to compete with the Astros. However, even with the best player in the game in Mike Trout this club has struggled to sustain success, so until they can pitch consistently I'm not buying them.
So, no subtractions from the roster, adding more depth to the rotation and the bullpen, and the fact the division is down leads me to believe that this team will surpass the over/under win total of 96.5 for 2018.