Hating the Houston Astros may be the unofficial pastime for fans of every other team this season. But the fact remains that the Astros are still an excellent team. Despite some of the personnel losses during the offseason, they are still one of the World Series favorites.
To do that, they will need to get out of the AL West first. Well, not necessarily with the playoffs being expanded this year. But to believe in them as a contender in the AL, they need to take their division.
According to the oddsmakers at WilliamHill.com, they will:
2020 American League West Odds
- Houston Astros -170
- Oakland Athletics +250
- Los Angeles Angels +650
- Texas Rangers +1500
- Seattle Mariners +5000
Those odds give Houston a 62.96 percent chance of taking the division. But maybe someone can emerge and knock the Astros off their pedestal?
Do not count on the Seattle Mariners to do it. While they have some players with potential in the lineup, they are far from a proven roster worth betting on. Factor in the lack of pitching talent and the Mariners look more like a team to bet against, not for.
The Texas Rangers could be an excellent dark horse candidate. The rotation is solid and will be tough to beat this season. However, there is a good chance the bullpen will cost them a few wins this season. On the offensive end, they do have a lot of potential. But they will need to be phenomenal at the plate if their defense doesn’t improve.
Mike Trout will always make the Angels fun to watch. Adding Anthony Rendon should help make the offense more productive. It would help if they had more than two dangerous bats, though. There is potential on the roster, but it remains to be seen if any of it will develop.
Even if it does, the lack of talent in the pitching rotation will squander it. Shohei Ohtani is the only one worth talking about, and he got shelled in his season debut.
As for the Athletics, there is potential in Oakland. They have won 97 games the last two seasons, have a young, talented, and healthy rotation, great defense, and enough offense to get the job done. There really isn’t a discernible hole in their roster.
But with most of the division expected to be better this season, can they get the job done? That remains to be seen.
So—how should you bet?
As much as it may pain you to do it, the Houston Astros are the safe bet. Yes, they lost Gerrit Cole, but they still have Zach Greinke and Justin Verlander, Lance McCullers is coming back, and a solid bullpen. Go ahead and hate them for the scandal in 2017, but their offense was pretty dominant last year in the regular season.
If you want to take someone else, the A’s are a good second choice. They have been in the hunt for the last two years, and if Houston slips, they could step right in. For those that like longshots, give the Rangers a look. Their pitching rotation is fierce and could carry them a long way.