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AL West Odds: Astros The Favorite, M’s and A’s Offering Attractive Odds to Bettors

The Houston Astros are the odds-on betting favorite to win the American League West with just under two months left in the regular season. Houston is -1000 to finish ahead of division rivals Seattle (+900) and Oakland (+1000). Houston is also a co-World Series and co-ALCS favorite. 

The Astros are 69-41 with 52 games left on their schedule and are coming off a series win over Seattle, extending their lead in the division to five games. The Mariners have a chance for revenge next week when they go to Houston for a four-game set.

The strength of Houston’s starting rotation is well-documented. The question was always the bullpen’s ability to close games. At the non-waiver trade deadline, the Astros acquired closing pitcher Roberto Osuna from the Toronto Blue Jays. In strictly baseball terms, this is a steal. Osuna is the youngest MLB pitcher to ever reach 100 saves. However, he’s been suspended by MLB since May as a result of allegations of domestic abuse that forced the Jays to cut ties. Houston acquired him amid a firestorm of criticism.

August Will Make or Break Seattle

The Mariners host Toronto on the first weekend in August and then visit the Rangers, but it gets really tough for them after that: four in Houston followed by the A’s and Dodgers back to back, then Houston again, Arizona, San Diego and then a four-gamer in Oakland.

At +900, there is definitely value in placing a bet on the Mariners if you think they can make up ground with all the upcoming games against the division. The thing is, though, they are coming off their worst month of the season in July. The Mariners were 10-13 for their first losing month of 2018. They hit .237 as a team, scoring a league-worst 77 runs. 

How About Oakland at +1000?

The A’s are one of the hottest teams in baseball, having won 30 of their last 40 games to move into a second-place tie with the Mariners. They look to be the smarter money in the division if you are looking for an underdog to overtake the Astros. 

Oakland still has six games remaining against Houston and has an easier schedule down the stretch than Seattle. The A’s hit 35 home runs in July, powered by a red-hot Khris Davis, who launched nine homers in 99 at-bats. Overall in July, Davis had 32 hits and drove in 29 runs. 

Since the all-star break, Oakland’s pitching staff is holding opposing batters to an average of .236 and has allowed just 16 home runs in 118 innings. 

Odds to win the 2018 American League West
TeamOdds
Houston Astros-1000
Seattle Mariners+900
Oakland Athletics+1000
Los Angeles Angels+40000

Odds as of August 2 at Bovada

Archived Articles

The Houston Astros are the odds-on betting favorite to win the American League West as MLB enters its all-star break. Houston is -1600 to finish ahead of division rivals Seattle (+750), Oakland (+3000) and the Los Angeles Angels (+6600). Houston is also the futures favorite to win the American League pennant and represent the AL in the World Series.

Betting against A.J. Hinch’s lineup is tough. They are 64-35 at the break and boast one of the top starting rotations in baseball. The rotation has a combined ERA of 3.02, good for first overall in the majors and well ahead of the 3.31 mark that the Dodgers rotation has compiled for second overall.

Another strong indicator of the rotation’s dominance is its 613 innings pitched. Again, that leads MLB in that category. Pessimists will look at this as a potential burnout factor, but glass-half-full folks will be impressed by their consistency and work rate. Look for the starters to throw a little less in the second half with rumored help on the way in the bullpen. Houston is also aggressively pursuing Baltimore’s Zach Britton to solidify the closer’s role.

It’s not just the pitching getting the job done for Houston. The guys swinging the sticks are also dominating baseball as the ’Stros have scored 500 runs on 879 hits. Both totals are second overall in baseball, with Boston occupying first place in both categories. Houston’s team batting average is third in the majors at .261, just 11 points off the league-leading .272 mark of the Red Sox.

Is There an Argument to Bet on Seattle?

So, does it make sense to put money on anyone else to win the AL West? Even though Houston is the statistical leader in key categories, it’s still wins and losses that determine the winner of the division. Seattle has kept pace for most of the season and sits five games back of Houston, even after dropping eight of 11 games heading into the break.

At +750, there is some value in placing a bet on the Mariners. Seattle and Houston still have 13 head-to-head games remaining in the second half, so the end result is well within the control of either squad. At 58-39, Seattle has the fourth-best record in all of baseball.

Houston has won four of the six meetings between the two division front-runners this season, though four of those games were played back in April. In order to close the five-game gap, Seattle will likely need to win seven or eight of the remaining games against Houston.

Looking closer, Seattle is 26-12 in one-run games and all-star Edwin Diaz leads the majors with 36 saves. Relief pitching – and more importantly, closing pitching – is critical to the success of top teams down the stretch in the MLB season. The M’s will get a boost in August when Robinson Cano returns from his suspension.

Oakland at +3000?

With the Athletics at 30/1 odds and sitting just eight games out of first, long-shot bettors might find this midseason futures bet intriguing. Oakland is the hottest team in the majors right now, winning 21 of 27 games heading into the break. That run includes taking three of four from the Astros in Houston last week.

The Achilles heel for the A’s may lie in their inability to consistently win games vs division opponents. Before taking the three games from Houston, Oakland was just 12-25 against AL West teams. For the A’s to win the division, they will need to gain more results like the series win in Houston as 35 of their remaining 65 games are played against the AL West.

Most baseball fans have seen Moneyball, the real-life story of the 2002 Oakland A’s. While Billy Beane (Brad Pitt’s character in the film) is no longer the general manager, he remains in the organization as the president of baseball operations. Could the A’s be on the verge of a similar Cinderella story in 2018? Oakland’s payroll is about $82 million this year, with only $47 million on the active roster. By comparison, the Red Sox payroll is $236.2 million.

Odds to win the 2018 American League West
TeamOdds
Houston Astros-1600
Seattle Mariners+750
Oakland Athletics+3000
Los Angeles Angels+6600

Odds as of July 17 at Bovada

Archived Articles

The American League West Division was projected by analysts and sportsbooks to be owned by the Houston Astros for this season and beyond. With impactful blue-chippers across the Astros roster, a team like the Seattle Mariners has had to play catchup to keep pace with the defending World Series champions.

But the betting odds at BetOnline are in a great spot for the value bettor looking to pick an upset and see the Mariners break the longest postseason drought in American professional sports.

Why do the Mariners keep winning?

The Seattle Mariners (+450) have long been an afterthought when it comes to the MLB playoffs, having missed the cut since 1995 (GRIFFEY!!!). But after 60 regular-season games, it’s the Mariners with the American League West lead over the Astros by a single game. There’s still a lot of baseball left to be played for the M’s to topple the ’Stros but there’s more to the story for why they’ve been successful this year.

The Mariners are 15 games above .500 (37-22 SU) and what’s incredible is they’ve achieved that with only a +17 run differential, compared with the Astros at +122. What that means is they’ve figured out this season how to win close games, as Seattle is 18-9 SU in 27 games decided by one run and 6-0 SU in extra-inning games. The bullpen has been a huge component of the team’s success, tied with the Red Sox with 22 saves for the league lead and third in the majors in walks allowed.

Seattle has seen a power outage

However, if there is a drawback for the Mariners, it’s been the batting order as runs have been hard to manufacture outside of shortstop Jean Segura and Dee Gordon. The speedsters have combined for 69 runs this season but power has been non-existent with only two players smashing over 10 dingers (Nelson Cruz and Mitch Haniger).

The Mariners rank 19th in MLB in homers and last among division leaders. When you factor in that power-hitting second baseman Robinson Cano can’t return to the lineup until mid-August, Seattle should be one of the key players at the trade deadline to bolster its lineup.

Odds to win the 2018 American League West
TeamOdds
Houston Astros-450
Seattle Mariners+450
Los Angeles Angels+1000
Oakland Athletics+5000
Texas Rangers+25000

Odds as of June 4 at BetOnline

Archived Articles

The 2017 American League West was essentially decided before the all-star break as the Houston Astros went 60-29 in the season’s first half, which gave them an absurd 16.5-game division lead. They battled through some injuries in the second half, and eventually went on to win the division by 21 games, which was the most of any division winner.

While the ’Stros went on to be crowned baseball’s best team, it was a disappointing year for the rest of the division, as the four other teams all finished below .500.

Here’s a look at the division odds entering the 2018 season along with some need-to-know information for each club:

Houston Astros -550

Is it possible that baseball’s best team got better? It certainly looks that way thanks to the addition of former Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, who’s expected to be slotted into the No. 3 starter role. It also needs to be considered that the Astros will have a full season of Justin Verlander, whom they acquired at the waiver trade deadline last season. Pairing those two with former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel — who’s in a contract year, by the way — and postseason dynamos Lance McCullers Jr. and Charlie Morton gives Houston the best starting rotation in the American League.

Houston was -1600 to win the AL West by the middle of May last season, so get in on this bet now before it’s too late.

The Astros will also return 2017’s top offense, which is full of elite-level talent that still has room to grow. The bullpen showed a lot of holes during the playoffs, but there’s no reason to think they can’t be patched up either through improved play or the trade market.

The Astros to win the AL West is an absolute, no-doubt, five-star lock for me. This is a bet I’ve already made. The Astros got all the way up to -1600 by the middle of May last season, so get in on this bet now before it’s too late. Consider parlaying this bet with another big division favorite like the Nationals.

Los Angeles Angels +550

The Angels were one of baseball’s busiest teams in the winter, making a huge splash by adding two-way playing sensation Shohei Ohtani, along with infielders Zack Cozart and Ian Kinsler. Ohtani is expected to be in the starting rotation and be the team’s DH often throughout the season. As exciting and fun as that is, baseball bettors should temper their expectations and keep in mind Ohtani is still just 23 and it could take him several seasons to reach his full potential at the major-league level.

Ohtani is still just 23 and it could take him a few seasons to reach his full potential. 

With that said, the addition of those three players should be enough to get them over .500 and possibly into contention for a wild-card spot. Many will target LA as an OVER candidate for their OVER/UNDER season win total, which may very well be a good bet. However, the gap between the Angels and the Astros is still too big. Even with the best player in the game manning center field for them (how is Mike Trout still only 26?), the starting rotation is too thin to make them a serious threat.

Seattle Mariners +1000

The Mariners have rotated plus- and sub-.500 seasons the past four years and will be looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001 — this is the longest playoff drought in MLB, the NFL, NBA and NHL, so pat yourself on the back, Browns fans! Unfortunately, I don’t think Seattle did enough this season to end the drought and will likely end up barely above .500 in a best-case scenario.

Adding last season’s stolen base leader, Dee Gordon, to the leadoff spot will give the team a different look offensively and he should make an excellent 1-2 punch with Jean Segura at the top of the order. However, very little was done to address the mediocre starting rotation, which posted just 62 quality starts to rank near the bottom of the league.

Seattle will tease its fans and show promise at points during the season, but that’s about it. If you could bet on which team would be the most average in 2018, the Mariners would be the odds-on favorite.

Texas Rangers +3000

Texas has been a fairly consistent contender since 2010, making the playoffs in five of the last eight seasons, which includes four division crowns. After finishing 78-84 last season, though, and not being a big player in free agency, it looks like the Rangers could be trending in the wrong direction.

The Rangers finished with a winning record vs just one divisional opponent last season and posted a team ERA of 5.08 after the all-star break, which was bad enough for 27th in the league. On the bright side, they were one of baseball’s best power-hitting teams last season, finishing third in home runs, which if they can repeat might be able to keep them in a few more games if the pitching improves. That’s a huge IF, though, and with Doug Fister and Matt Moore being the big additions to this year’s club, you’re better off throwing your futures darts elsewhere.

Oakland Athletics +3000

Moneyball is back! Actually, it never went anywhere, not even to a World Series! Seriously, though, moneyball is extremely overrated, and it boggles my mind that it somehow warranted making a movie about a team that didn’t win a damn thing. Anyways, Oakland is coming off three straight losing seasons and it looks like a fourth is in store.

The Moneyball approach has landed the A’s dead last in the AL West for three straight seasons.

The A’s have surprised us before, but there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot to be optimistic about in 2018. The roster is made up of other teams’ castoffs and lacks the big-time prospects that we’ve seen Oakland bring through its system in the past. Like the Rangers, the A’s boast plenty of power, as they were surprisingly tied for first in home runs in the second half in 2017, but all that got them was a 36-37 record.

Rebuilding in the big leagues is a long game that A’s fans will once again need to embrace in 2018.

Odds to win the 2018 American League West
TeamOdds
Houston Astros-550
Los Angeles Angels+550
Seattle Mariners+1000
Texas Rangers+3000
Oakland Athletics+3000

Odds as of March 28 at Bovada

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