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AL West Odds: Astros Look Like a Lock

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 -500

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 +500

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 +900

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 +4000

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
Houston Astros-500
Los Angeles Angels+500
Seattle Mariners+900
Texas Rangers+3000
Oakland Athletics+4000

Odds as of March 7 at Bovada