My favorite division future comes from the American League West Division. Like I’ve mentioned in other areas of the 2021 MLB Betting Guide, so much of how these things are priced comes down to public perception. Teams that won the prior year. Teams that made big, splashy moves over the winter. Teams that didn’t lose anybody of note.
To be totally honest with you, a lot of oddsmakers are lazy when it comes to the futures markets. They’ll throw up some prices that hit a target theoretical hold percentage. Bettors will bet into them, either favoring the teams that made headlines in the offseason or simply picking against the teams that didn’t. The prices will adjust and that will shape the market and that will be that.
I think there is a mispricing in the AL West. I can do enough mental gymnastics to give three teams the chance at winning it, but only one team really stands out in my mind and I would not only have that team the favorite, but maybe even at a minus price.
Odds To Win The AL West
|Los Angeles Angels||+370||+375|
Credit to the Oakland A’s. They ended Houston’s AL West reign of terror by upending the Astros in the 60-game sprint. The Astros finished below .500 for the 60-game season. Of course, they also had the last laugh when they knocked Oakland out of the playoffs in the Division Series round. It was a real heartbreaking ending for an A’s team that won a playoff series for the first time since 2006 and a division title for the first time since 2013.
I love and respect what the Athletics do year in and year out. They’ve done a good job being the chief competition to the Astros. Hell, the A’s won 97 games in both 2018 and 2019. They also lost the division by six games and then 10 games those two years. They’ve done about everything that they can do and it finally came to a head last year when the A’s broke through.
This season, I am looking for status quo to return in the AL West. The Astros are the team to beat in my estimation. The A’s look like a team that will regress, as you will read extensively about in their team preview. I do like the Los Angeles Angels. Anthony Rendon has been a legitimate superhero next to the Batman that is Mike Trout. We’re not talking about a bunch of wanna-be Robins anymore and the Angels made a few other moves that I really like.
However, being in position to win the division is a question of consistency. The A’s have been extremely consistent the last three seasons and broke through last year because the Astros seemed really disengaged. Houston also lost Justin Verlander very early in the process shortly after losing Gerrit Cole to free agency and there was some scrambling that had to take place.
Not to mention, the Astros were fresh off the sign-stealing scandal and the subsequent fallout. Dusty Baker wasn’t a bad fit for the Astros at all. He’s not the statistically-minded skipper that AJ Hinch was, but he wasn’t a negative.
The Astros stepped up when they needed to. They were 5-1 against the Twins and A’s in the playoffs and then took the Rays to seven games after falling behind 3-0. It wasn’t just the Verlander injury either. They wound up with a bunch of random dudes in the bullpen at multiple points.
I don’t often take strong stances on division futures unless we’re talking about something like the Rays at +650 last year when they were every bit as good, if not better, than the Yankees based on the alternate standings metrics.
In this case, Houston wins this division more than 50% of the time in my mind. The +150 price only implies around 40% implied probability that they win the division. I’m not buying that. I think only two teams can win the division first of all and the other team is one I’ve pegged for some regression. Ironically, the season win total for the A’s also suggests exactly that.
The A’s win total is lined at 87.5. The Astros are at 86.5. Not only do I think the Astros are better than that, but the win total should be flipped at a minimum and the division odds should be flipped as well. There will be no Verlander for the Astros again, but they found out a lot internally last season and I expect them to be very good again.
The Astros at +150 is a gift.