2020 MLB Over/Under Win Total Picks, Futures Odds – AL West

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (photo credit: USA TODAY Sports)

Last updated: July 12, 2020

This article is one of six MLB previews, with each covering a specific division in the big leagues. In this preview, we’ll take a look at the win totals and futures odds for the teams in the American League (AL) West, which covers the Los Angeles Angels, Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, and Texas Rangers.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the start for the 2020 MLB season has been delayed indefinitely. Originally scheduled for Opening Day to take place on Thursday, March 26, the season has been pushed back and there is an ongoing back and forth between the owners and the players surrounding when the MLB will get back in action. That said, we can still preview what’s to come for the AL West, and as more developments happen, we’ll update this preview.

Last season, the Astros won the AL West with a record of 107 wins and 55 losses. That was also the best record in the entire American League. The A’s finished 97-65 and made the AL Wild Card Game. Oakland was bounced in the AL Wild Card Game to the Tampa Bay Rays, but Houston advanced all the way to the World Series.

Entering the 2020 season, it’s the Astros as the AL West with the most favored odds to win the World Series.

*Odds from FanDuel Sportsbook as of July 12, 2020, and subject to change.

World Series odds for AL West teams

Houston Astros

The Houston Astros look to return to the World Series for the third time in four seasons, and they’ll do it coming off a gut-wrenching World Series loss in seven games to the Washington Nationals. It was a disastrous offseason for the Astros after they were caught stealing signs, resulting in the departures of manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow. Dusty Baker is the team’s new manager. His teams have won at least 90 games in five of the last six full seasons that he’s managed. Elsewhere, the Astros lost 2019 Cy Young award winner Gerrit Cole to the New York Yankees, reliever Will Harris to the Nationals, and starting pitchers Wade Miley (Cincinnati Reds) and Collin McHugh (Boston Red Sox). Houston’s biggest offseason acquisition was reliever Joe Smith.

Starting pitchers Justin Verlander (223 innings/12.1 K/9 and 3.27 FIP) and Zach Greinke anchor the rotation with Lance McCullers Jr. returning after missing 2019 following Tommy John surgery. The Astros can roll out seven more competent arms in the rotation, including right-handers Austin Pruitt and Jose Urquidy.

The bullpen was slightly above average last season with a 4.24 FIP. Closer Roberto Osuna, Josh James, Brad Peacock, and Smith head up another unit with good depth.

Houston’s offense was third in runs scored (920) and home runs (288) in all of Major League Baseball. Alex Bregman (41 HR), George Springer (39 HR), and Jose Altuve all blasted at least 31 homers last season. They’ll get a healthy Carlos Correa back as well. I don’t see any AL West teams giving Houston trouble.

Oakland Athletics

The Oakland Athletics are coming off a 91-win season and a Wild Card birth. Now, Oakland’s sights are set on taking down the Astros in the AL West this season. Outside of some quiet moves to bolster the bullpen and catcher position, Oakland’s offseason was highlighted by some notable losses, including reliever Blake Treinen, starting pitchers Tanner Roark and Homer Bailey, and infielder Jurickson Profar, who hit 20 home runs for the Athletics last season.

The A’s have a ton of potential to turn into a better starting pitching unit than they were last season when they finished in the bottom half of the league in FIP (4.57) and averaged a paltry seven strikeouts per nine innings. Veterans Frankie Montas (9-2/3.00 FIP in 2019) and Mike Fiers anchor the staff, while prospects A.J. Put and Jesus Lazardo are expected to start the season in the rotation. Left-hander Sean Manaea returns after being limited to just five starts last season due to injury.

The bullpen was third in the AL with a 3.98 FIP. Closer Liam Hendricks (36% K-rate), Yusmeiro Petit, and Joakim Soria and a solid trio at the back end.

Offensively, the A’s finished 2019 with the fourth-most home runs in the American League with 257 and they had the fifth-best team OPS at .775. It took until his seventh season but shortstop Marcus Semien broke out in a big way with 33 home runs and a .892 OPS. First baseman Matt Olson and emerging superstar Matt Chapman both blasted 36 homers. The team hopes for a bounce-back year from DH Khris Davis, who hit 23 home runs last season, breaking a streak of hitting at least 40 bombs every season from 2015-18.

Oakland is a good team that just doesn’t have enough starting pitching to make a run at Houston, although another Wild Card spot is within reach.

Los Angeles Angels

The Los Angeles Angels are coming off a 72-90 record with a fourth-place finish in the division. The two biggest moves this offseason were adding manager Joe Maddon and signing back-to-back National League doubles leader Anthony Rendon at third base. Starting pitchers Dylan Bundy and Julio Teheran were signed for more depth in the rotation. The high-profile loss is RF Kole Calhoun, who slammed 33 home runs in 2019 and departed to Arizona.

Assuming that Mike Trout plays, this is an offense that could improve upon last season’s middling 769 runs scored, tied for eighth in the American League. Three-time and reigning AL MVP Trout (45 home runs and 1.083 OPS) is weighing his options whether to play or not this season. Newly-acquired third baseman Rendon finished third in the NL MVP voting last season after leading the league in doubles (44) and RBI (126). Shohei Ohtani will serve as the DH. Once he reaches 20 starts at DH, he’ll be eligible to pitch and act as a two-way player.

The Angels had one of the worst starting pitching units and return Andrew Heaney and Griffin Canning, who are joined by newcomers Bundy (4.73 FIP with Baltimore in 2019) and former Braves starter Teheran (4.66 FIP). Because of the team’s weak starting staff, the Angels’ bullpen had to pitch a whopping 761.2 innings, second-most in the AL. The back end of Hansel Robles and Ty Buttrey is top shelf and the club can roll out another 8-10 arms if needed.

The addition of Rendon greatly helps the offense but the starting pitching is bad enough to waste another year of Trout’s career languishing towards the bottom of the AL West.

Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers look to snap three consecutive losing seasons as they head into the 2020 season. Texas bolstered its rotation with impending free agent and two-time Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber and Kyle Gibson (4.29 FIP and 9.0 K/9 in 2019). They also acquired reliever Nick Goody and third baseman Todd Frazier (21 HR with New York Mets in 2019). The biggest losses this offseason were outfielders Hunter Pence, who slammed 21 home runs and finished with a .910 OPS, and Nomar Mazara, who hit 79 home runs in his four seasons with the Rangers.

Texas traded for Kluber, who was limited to just seven starts last season with an oblique injury and a fractured arm. During his five-year run of greatness in Cleveland from 2014-2018, his average ERA+ was an astounding 155.8. Behind Kluber are veterans Mike Minor, Lance Lynn (3.13 FIP in 2019), and the newly-acquired Gibson. It’s an above-average foursome but there’s a major lack of depth behind them. The bullpen finished with the American League’s third-highest FIP at 4.88 – only the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers were worse.

In 2019, the Rangers offense was sixth in runs with 810 and tied for eighth in home runs with 223. Headed into 2020, prolific slugger Joey Gallo battled COVID-19 but will be ready for opening day. Gallo blasted 22 home runs in just 70 games last season and he’s averaged a home run every 12 at-bats for his five-year career. For context, Barry Bonds is third all-time with 12.92 HR/AB. There’s more power in the lineup as Shin-soo Choo, Rougned Odor, and Danny Santana all hit 24 or more home runs last season. The team signed Frazier after the Rangers got little production at 3B the season after Adrian Beltre retired. Texas third basemen combined for a .372 slugging percentage, which was 29th in MLB. This is an average offense with a top-to-bottom pitching staff in need of better depth. I’m fading this team altogether.

Seattle Mariners

Only the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers have a worse win total than the Seattle Mariners (24.5). This is a really bad team. The Mariners started out 13-2 last season, so maybe the club can duplicate that and forget about the part where they finished the season with 94 losses. This team did little to improve and they’ll play their first season without Felix Hernandez since 2004.

Seattle really did nothing to address its starting rotation that posted a 5.00 FIP last season, good for 13th out of 15 AL teams. They also lost nine of the 18 pitchers that started for them last season so that might not be an awful thing to have happened. The rotation is horrendous behind Marco Gonzales, who finished 2019 with a respectable 4.15 FIP. The bullpen was 12th in the league with 8.63 K/9 and 12th in FIP at 4.87.

Seattle was 10th in runs scored with 758. The offense returns just three players who hit at least 20 home runs last season. The list is composed of Dan Vogelbach (30), Kyle Seager (23), and Omar Narvaez (22). Seattle would have to be atrocious to win less than 25 games, which is why it’s a possibility.

2020 AL West picks and predictions:

Los Angeles Angels under 31.5 wins

I got in on this bet the second Trout questioned whether or not he’ll play this season. Even with Trout, there’s not enough pitching to get this team to .500. The signings of middling veterans Bundy and Teheran might boost a rotation that threw the least amount of innings last season with 681 while finishing with a 5.41 FIP.

I do like the addition of manager Joe Maddon, who turned the Chicago Cubs around quickly, but a managerial change isn’t enough to make me overlook the starting pitching deficiencies. The under is the call here.

Seattle Mariners under 24.5 wins

The Mariners are another team that’s undergoing a 2020 Tankapalooza. I’ll keep this simple. What do you get when you create a roster that was in the bottom three teams in pitching and bottom five in offense? You get 24 wins or less.

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