BangtheBook is going to be breaking down each division as Opening Day is right around the corner. Spring Training is in full swing right now, and it’s only a few weeks from Major League Baseball getting underway. Here’s your chance to learn more about each team. Let’s take a look at the AL West.
The underdog Oakland Athletics took the baseball world by storm last year and won the AL West in a stunner. Before last season started, bettors could get up to +4,000 on Oakland to win the AL West. Despite having very little offense, the A’s found a way to get it done in 2012. The favored Angels were a big disappointment, and Texas lost in a one-game Wild Card playoff. The Houston Astros join the AL West this year, which will give the rest of the teams a weaker team to beat up on. Who will end up on top this season?
2013 American League West Odds & Predictions (Odds from BetOnline)
Los Angeles Angels
Odds to Win AL West: -150
The Angels are the favorite in this strong division once again. Bettors might question this team being favored after a bit of a disappointment from them last season. Once you take a closer look though; it is clear that the Angels deserve to be favorites here. Josh Hamilton was the biggest offseason acquisition in all of baseball, and that left the Angels lineup absolutely stacked. What pitcher is going to want to face Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton? It will be a surprise if the Angels don’t lead the league in scoring this year.
Tommy Hanson and Jason Vargas were the two big pickups to help the rotation. Hanson’s velocity dropped a lot last year, and he is a big question mark. Vargas was great in Seattle, but he struggled on the road. He’ll have to pitch well in his new home park. There are some question marks here, but the tremendous offense will help them outslug a lot of opponents.
Odds to Win AL West: +200
The Angels big gain is the Rangers major loss as Hamilton exits the Ballpark at Arlington. The offense should still be very good, but it’s hard to imagine they won’t take a bit of a hit. Nelson Cruz suffered through an injury plagued season last year, and the team will need more production from him this year. Lance Berkman was a good signing in the offseason, but he is 37 years old. Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus give the team a terrific middle of the infield. Jackson Profar will push for playing time early.
This isn’t the same Rangers team from a few years ago. The starting rotation used to be a weakness, but it is now their single biggest strength. Look for Alexi Ogando and Martin Perez to have big breakout seasons. Yu Darvish is capable of dominating since he misses so many bats.
Odds to Win AL West: +600
The Oakland Athletics have the deepest starting rotation in all of baseball. It’s a bold statement that many might disagree with, but when you look at this rotation it is scary how good they could be. Brett Anderson was injured last year, but he has amazing stuff. Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone were amazing as youngsters last year. Griffin and Straily are both extremely highly touted pitching prospects that should have big seasons for the A’s this year. There is no weakness in this rotation. Can the bullpen be as good as they were last year? That is the biggest question.
The lineup has a slugger in the middle in Yoenis Cespedes, but he is going to need more help this year. Oakland picked up Jed Lowrie in hopes of getting a guy who can get on base and give Cespedes someone to drive in. The offense will still be bad, but can the team overcome it?
Odds to Win AL West: +1,300
Felix Hernandez is going to be with the team for a very long time, and that is a good start for the Mariners staying competitive. This team was quite a bit better late in the year last season. It was their improved pitching that helped them stay competitive. They are going to need much better production from their lineup if they are going to hang around at all in this division this year.
Mike Morse was a nice pickup to drive in runs in the four hole, but now it is up to Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley to produce up to their potential for this offense to get going. This team couldn’t hit at SafeCo last year, and it’s never a good sign when your team can’t hit the ball at home. The offense might be a little better this year, but it’s still not nearly enough in this division.
Odds to Win AL West: +5,000
The Houston Astros were the laughing stock of the NL Central last year, and now they should go straight to the cellar in the AL West. Houston appears to be drifting around with no real direction right now. The Astros have a horrible combination of one of the worst lineups in the game and one of the worst starting rotations in the game. If that isn’t enough, the Astros also have a horrible bullpen.
Jose Altuve is a bright spot for the lineup, but there’s just not enough help around him. Houston is now playing in a highly competitive division, and I expect them to have the worst record in baseball again in 2013.
Predicted Order of Finish-
1. Los Angeles Angels- The best balance in the league
2. Oakland Athletics- A good value play at +600
3. Texas Rangers- Slipping a bit this year
4. Seattle Mariners- Not enough to compete
5. Houston Astros- Cellar dweller