AL West Division Odds, Breakdowns and Predictions

It’s a quiet time in the sports world at the moment, and one of the distractions we used during previous hardships is no longer available to us.

That said, the Major League Baseball season has plenty of time to resume, and considering we still have MLB futures on the board, we should probably take a dive into those.

In part three of my six-part series breaking down the divisions with odds and predictions attached, it’s time to look at the AL West, a division that’s been under the microscope for multiple reasons this winter.

*Odds courtesy of BetOnline
**Breakdowns are down in order of last season’s final regular season standings

AL West Division Odds, Breakdowns and Predictions

Houston Astros

  • 2019 Record: 107-55
  • Playoff Result: Lost World Series vs. Nationals
  • AL West Odds: -190
  • AL Pennant Odds: +400
  • World Series Odds: +1000

You may have stumbled across some news this winter accusing the Astros of a sign-stealing scandal dating back to their 2017 World Series-winning season.

They were convicted and somewhat disciplined on the matter, but baseball as they know it is going to get a lot more difficult in the 2020 season.

The Astros will be greeted with raucous crowds across the league this season and it’s going to be a mental grind on the road for much of the season to go along with any retributions their opponents might have in mind.

Fortunately, the skill level remains elite on this team, particularly at the plate.

Indeed, the Astros were the best offense in baseball in 2019, leading the league with a .355 wOBA and 125 wRC+ among a host of league-leading categories.

That dominant lineup returns in full for the 2020 campaign, only this time they’ll get a full season (COVID-19 depending) out of 2019 AL Rookie of the Year Jordan Alvarez.

The pitching staff, particularly the rotation, is the bigger question.

It was in serious trouble when Justin Verlander went down with a lat strain in spring training, and while Verlander just underwent groin surgery during baseball’s hiatus, it’s the depth of the rotation that isn’t what it used to be.

They’re in good hands with Verlander and 2019 trade acquisition Zack Greinke at the top, but that’s where the questions begin.

Lance McCullers slots in at No.3, however he’s coming off a Tommy John surgery and has never made more than 22 starts in a season. Afterwards, it’s a free for all for the bottom two spots between the likes of Jose Urquidy, Austin Pruitt, Brad Peacock, Framber Valdez and Josh James.

That’s a far cry from the Gerrit Cole, Verlander, Charlie Morton, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers rotation of the 2018 season.

The bullpen turned in a second-ranked 3.75 ERA in 2019 and should be strong again this time around, although it’s likely set for an increased workload after their 555 innings from 2019 were the seventh-fewest in baseball.

The lineup will rake and the bullpen should be strong, but the once-elite rotation is no longer and relying on a 37-year-old Verlander and 36-year-old Greinke – both with plenty of miles on their right arms – is a risky proposition for a team with World Series aspirations.

Prediction: Misses Playoffs

It’s a bold one, to be sure. It’s also not because I’m mad at them or dislike them. It’s simply reality.

On top of the starting rotation that’s loaded with question marks, road games are going to be difficult for this Astros team. The baseball world is furious the players cheated and got away scot-free and every road game they play in 2020 is going to be in a hostile environment.

The AL West division also got stronger. The Angels plan to be big players in the west and the A’s aren’t going anywhere. There’s also improved clubs in the Central and East.

The road to the postseason is far blurrier than it was this time last year and the add in the factors noted above and I am going on a limb and saying the Astros miss the playoffs all together in 2020 while their futures have very little value to me.

Oakland Athletics

  • 2019 Record: 97-65
  • Playoff Result: Lost Wild Card game vs. Rays
  • AL West Odds: +300
  • AL Pennant Odds: +1400
  • World Series Odds: +3500

The A’s were in the news this offseason mostly because starting pitcher Mike Fiers blew the whistle on the Astros’ sign-stealing scam, but Fiers also plays for a quality ball club that fell just short of winning 100 games.

Like the Astros, the A’s will bring back an identical lineup to the one that ranked 10th with a .327 wOBA in 2019, although the battle for the second base job wasn’t worked out prior to the hiatus, and it’s a battle because Jurickson Profar was traded to the Padres in the offseason.

The A’s bring plenty of thump to the dish with a .199 ISO from 2019 that ranked sixth, this despite playing in the pitcher-friendly confines of the O.Co Coliseum in Oakland.

Where things could look quite different is in the rotation.

After Fiers, the rotation looks a lot different than the one that finished the 2019 season.

Sean Manaea was brilliant down the stretch after missing nearly the entire season after shoulder surgery, but the A’s will also have Frankie Montas back after he made just one start following a PED-related suspension while the team will also look to graduate a couple of high-end prospects in Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk to full-time duty after both got a taste of big league action as September call ups in 2019.

At this time last year, the A’s rotation looked rather thin and while they utilized the opener strategy quite well a season ago, it doesn’t appear they’ll have to do the same this time around.

Adding to a deeper rotation will be a bullpen that was quite strong in 2019, turning in a seventh-ranked 3.89 ERA but also a third-ranked 3.98 FIP and fourth-ranked 7.0 WAR.

A less-taxed bullpen will help as a deeper rotation means less work for the relievers. The Oakland pitching staff seems to be in real good shape entering the 2020 campaign.

Prediction: Wins AL West, Loses ALDS

The A’s have what it takes to pull off the upset.

There’s actually a real argument to be made that their rotation is deeper than that of the Astros. I didn’t say more talented, but deeper. Three very good big league arms complemented by a pair of elite prospects. Prospects can be wild cards, but the A’s rotation is better than it was this time a year ago.

The lineup is clearly legitimate after a big 2019 season, so we know the A’s will score some runs.

Add in the dynamite ‘pen and the A’s should be licking their lips as a team that could unseat the Astros atop the AL West, and potentially more.

Texas Rangers

  • 2019 Record: 78-84
  • Playoff Result: Did not qualify
  • AL West Odds: +1600
  • AL Pennant Odds: +3300
  • World Series Odds: +12500

It appeared the Rangers planned on being big-time players in the free agent market when they went out and inked former Twins starter Kyle Gibson to a three-year deal. Let’s not forget they traded for former Indians ace Corey Kluber as well, but Kluber’s coming off a mostly lost 2019 season, making just seven starts, and posted a 5.80 ERA in that time.

We certainly don’t know what the Rangers will get from the 33-year-old this season.

It’s the offensive side of things that are a little puzzling. While upgrading a rotation that ranked 25th with a 5.37 ERA is admirable, largely maintaining a league-average offense doesn’t seem to make much sense entering a new ball park in 2020.

In fact, the Rangers actually detracted from that offense by dealing outfielder Nomar Mazara to the Chicago White Sox in return for a prospect, and their only notable additions on offense included reuniting with catcher Robinson Chirinos while adding veteran Todd Frazier and his roughly league-average production over the last four seasons to man the hot corner.

The team also did very little in upgrading a bullpen that ranked 21st with a 4.73 ERA in 2019. Furthermore, Jose Leclerc took a major step back in the 2019 season, turning in a 4.33 ERA after posting a 1.56 mark in 2018. The volatility of relief pitching is real and it seems the Rangers should be unsure of what to receive from their closer in 2020.

Prediction: Misses Playoffs

I wanted to root for the Rangers as a team that appeared to be making win-now moves. Their rotation is undoubtedly improved, but that’s where the improvements stopped.

It’s not difficult to see their offense being worse in 2020 while the bullpen is a wild card at this point. To me, it seemed the team initially made some bold moves, and then stopped doing so while trading a young big league outfielder for a prospect in the process.

There doesn’t seem like much of an avenue for the Rangers to get by both the A’s and Astros for AL West supremacy. When you add in an improved Angels squad, the Rangers shouldn’t be playing October baseball this time around.

Los Angeles Angels

  • 2019 Record: 72-90
  • Playoff Result: Did not qualify
  • AL West Odds: +600
  • AL Pennant Odds: +1000
  • World Series Odds: +4000

The Angels made one of the biggest splashes in free agency this winter by inking former Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon to a massive seven-year, $245M contract, shoring up an offensive that could be one of the better groups in baseball this season.

DH/Pitcher Shohei Ohtani will be a full participant at the dish while a delayed season works in his favor after he underwent Tommy John Surgery in 2018, therefore he could be a full two-way player by the time the MLB season kicks off in 2020.

While having his bat in the lineup is important, Ohtani also turned in a 3.31 ERA/3.57 FIP in his 10 starts in the 2018 season, so his impact could be best felt in the rotation.

That rotation will be the team’s biggest question mark entering the season. They did some work to add in that department by trading for Dylan Bundy and signing Julio Teheran, but they’ll need some names to step up.

Andrew Heaney is now the resident ace, but Griffin Canning, Matt Andriese and Felix Pena will all be relied upon while the delaying of the season also helps Canning who was shut down with a right elbow issue during spring training.

Nonetheless, it seems the Angels remain a little light on the starting pitching front compared to the field, meaning the AL West counterparts and the junior circuit as a whole.

The bullpen represents another question mark as they ranked 20th with a 4.64 ERA in 2019, and there weren’t any notable upgrades in that department over the course of the offseason.

It really seems the Angels are light on pitching to complement what should be a real good offense this season.

Prediction: Misses Playoffs

The Angels need to win now during the prime of outfielder Mike Trout, and while the bold Rendon signing and pitching transactions indicate win-now mentality, the rotation nor the bullpen is fit to compete for a postseason spot in an improved American League in 2020.

I looked good and hard at this club and I want to see them succeed, however the rotation patchwork doesn’t cover up the lack of quality depth while the bullpen should have been addressed this winter.

Add it up and Mike Trout will go another year without a postseason appearance.

Seattle Mariners

    • 2019 Record: 68-94
    • Playoff Result: Did not qualify
    • AL West Odds: +6600
    • AL Pennant Odds: +8000
    • World Series Odds: +50000

The Mariners came out of the gate hard in 2019, hitting the baseball for plenty of power and surprising many early on.

Then came the rest of the season.

Seattle eventually slipped to 13th with a .187 ISO on the year and tied for 18th with a .314 wOBA, numbers that simply could not hide the hideousness that was their pitching staff.

As a staff, the Mariners ranked 23rd with a 5.00 ERA, but both ends of that staff failed to produce, but at least they added in the offseason.

Incoming are relievers Yoshihisa Hirano and Carl Edwards Jr. while the rotation got a boost and former Mariner Taijuan Walker who has pitched all of 14 innings over the last two seasons due to injury. While he’s a wild card at this point, Walker posted a 3.49 ERA in his last full season during the 2017 campaign.

Kendall Graveman, the former A’s Opening Day starter, also jointed Seattle after his MLB career dwindled in a hurry with the A’s, but a career 5.77 K/9 rate doesn’t inspire much confidence.

The offense likely won’t generate as much power in 2020 as it did in 2019, and the pitching staff – despite additions – simply isn’t good enough to exceed even the lowest of expectations in 2020.

Prediction: Misses Playoffs

Save your longshot futures play for another target.

This offense could plunge into one of the worst in the business while the pitching staff is offering very little hope of improvement.

Add it up and there won’t be any playoff ball on the west coast in Washington this season.

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Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.