With about seven weeks left in the Major League Baseball season, the Houston Astros have a commanding lead in the AL West, 11.0 games ahead of the Seattle Mariners. While Houston has not played exceptionally well since the All-Star break. There are only about 45 games left, and a dramatic comeback by Seattle, the second-place team in the division, seems improbable.
However, baseball is a quirky sport. Stranger things have happened, yet, oddsmakers still seem quite convinced that Houston will come away with this division title, giving them odds at -50,000 to be the division winner.
The reasons are obvious. Houston has the second-best ERA in baseball (3.04) and the 1.10 WHIP is second best while the .214 opponent batting average is tied for the top mark. They have the likely Cy Young Award winner in right-hander Justin Verlander, and all five of their starting pitchers have ERAs of 4.03 or less, including Verlander at 1.95. The offense for the Astros is not spectacular, but they are third in homeruns (160) and the club has averaged nearly five runs per game since the All-Star break.
Odds To Win The AL West
This Seattle Mariners (+4000) won 14 straight games heading into the All-Star break and have played well since. The club is 13-12 overall and the team has produced 26 homeruns in their first 25 games following the break. However, they are averaging just 3.84 runs per contest while the pitching staff has a 4.15 ERA since the All-Star game. Those are not numbers that are inclined to make people believe this club is going on a big run. Seattle still has the seventh-best ERA overall (3.66), and they will need to get back to that number if they expect to surpass Houston.
None of the lower three teams in this division have any type of real shot of catching Houston. The Texas Rangers (+15,000) are 22 games behind Houston in the standings. The Los Angeles Angels (+175,000) are 23.5 games out, and the Oakland Athletics (+499,900) are 32.5 games behind the Astros.
Texas still has a legitimate shot of getting into the playoffs as one of the three wildcard teams, as they are 9.5 games behind. However, an 11-15 mark since the All-Star break has dashed their hopes for the most part. The Rangers have a 4.07 ERA this season, which is at 3.99 since the break. They need to take at least half a run off that mark over the next four weeks if they are going to get into the wildcard chase.
The Los Angeles Angels are a bit of an enigma. This team has a lot of talent and solid numbers. Los Angeles is 13th in team ERA (3.85) and 12th in homeruns (130), but a .227 team batting average and an abysmal .296 on-base percentage have led to this club producing just 3.83 runs per game.
What can you say about the Oakland Athletics? This team has been bad from the start, producing the worst offense in baseball with a .215 batting average and 393 runs in 117 games, an average of 3.36 runs scored per contest. No matter how well this pitching staff delivered, they were not going to win a lot of games with that type of productivity. However, the Athletics pitching staff did not produce, posting a 4.26 ERA. They are all but eliminated at this point.