The American League West has a chance to be one of the more interesting divisions in baseball this season in large part because longstanding contenders — the Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros — both seem to have taken a step back entering the 2021 campaign.
Oakland lost Liam Hendriks and Marcus Semien while the Astros watched George Springer leave in free agency. Justin Verlander also is not set to pitch for Houston in 2021. Could these factors open doors for the Los Angeles Angles or even the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers?
Oddsmakers seem to believe LA, specifically, could be in the mix to win its first division title since 2014. The Angeles have the third-best price to win the division behind the Astros, who won three of the last four, and defending champion Athletics. The Mariners seem to be a bit of an afterthought while the Rangers are, well, a very long shot.
Here are the AL West odds, per DraftKings SportsBook:
Houston Astros +125
Oakland Athletics +145
Los Angeles Angels +375
Seattle Mariners +2600
Texas Rangers +6000
So, who represents a bet with good value when you look at AL West odds?
Los Angeles Angles +375
The Angels have enough offense to be in the mix so, like always, it will come down to their pitching staff. LA somewhat addressed it this offseason by acquiring starters José Quintana and Alex Cobb along with trading for Cincinnati Reds closer Raisel Iglesias. The Angels may not have a surefire ace, but a rotation including Dylan Bundy, Andrew Heaney, Cobb and Quintana does have potential. Notice that list doesn’t include 26-year-old Shohei Ohtani, but if he can get back to what he did in 2018 (3.31 ERA in 10 starts) he could be a huge depth piece on the mound.
Oh yeah, the Angels still have arguably the best player in baseball in eight-time MLB All-Star and three-time AL MVP Mike Trout. Trout had somewhat of a down year during the pandemic-shortened season (.281 batting average, 17 homers in 53 games) but the Angels’ ability to have him and Anthony Rendon back-to-back in the lineup should do wonders for the offense.
It’s not crazy to think the Angels will give Houston its biggest challenge this year, and if LA can get into a two-team race down the stretch you could always sell the ticket to make a quick buck, right?