You may have read about a certain sports magazine—let’s call it “S. Illustrated”—pegging the Astros as baseball's next up-and-comers and anointing them as the 2017 World Series winners way back in June of 2014—despite the fact that they were en route to a 92-loss season at the time. Houston almost made that prediction look conservative in 2015, surging to 86 wins and a playoff spot, which helped convince us to move up our prediction and tab the 'Stros to win the 2016 World Series before that season began. Alas, despite an MVP-caliber season from second baseman Jose Altuve (an AL-best .338 average, 24 home runs and 96 RBIs), Houston regressed to 84 wins and fell short of the postseason entirely.
Apparently looking to defend SI’s honor, the Astros have spent this off-season loading up on offense, adding catcher Brian McCann in a trade with the Yankees while signing outfielder/DH options Carlos Beltran and Josh Reddick. If Houston can bolster its rotation, too—say by swinging a deal with the White Sox for southpaw Jose Quintana—then it would go a long way toward making that 2014 prediction a reality after all.