MLB 2021 Season Preview: AL West Odds, Picks & Predictions
The 2021 MLB regular season gets going with Opening Day on April 4, and the latest AL West odds show a middling cluster. The Astros and Athletics noticeably slipped, while the Rangers got worse. The Mariners had off-season issues with their upper management “crapping” all over the team in private and then getting caught doing it, while the Angels quietly have the makings of a solid team. There’s still some time before first pitch to head to BetRivers.com to place your MLB futures and AL West bets, and longtime sports broadcaster David Tuchman is here to give his picks and predictions on the AL West odds.
The MLB season will begin soon and we will post daily updates regarding the MLB PA online sports betting odds and tips. All you need to do is to visit our blog regularly and you will find all the information necessary to bet and to make your own betting strategy.
My two most profitable bets the last two seasons were UNDER 59.5 wins for the Baltimore Orioles in 2019, and UNDER 25.5 wins for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2020. These previews are a labor of love for me. The work ‘Nucci and I put in pays off…literally. Hopefully, we can make you a few bucks too.
Click here for the full list of the latest MLB futures odds.
AMERICAN LEAGUE PREVIEWS: AL EAST ODDS | AL CENTRAL ODDS
Houston Astros (+125)
Win Total: 87.5 wins (-106/-118)
World Series: +2200
American League: +1000
Click here for more Astros AL West odds.
The Astros are coming off a disastrous regular season in 2020, where they finished 29-31 and in second place, yet somehow made the playoffs, and swept the Twins in the wild card round, beat the Athletics in four in the AL Division Series and barely lost in seven to the Rays. It was a tale of two seasons – regular and post – and showed the world the Astros are still the sheriff in this town.
But there are a ton of questions in 2021. The Astros lost Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez to injuries in 2020. Verlander pitched six innings in 2020 and will miss 2021. Valdez, the team’s best starting pitcher in 2020, may miss 2021 with a severely broken finger on his pitching hand. It may need surgery to fix, which would cancel his season. The Astros did sign Jake Odorizzi to compensate, so that will help, but will it be enough? Zack Greinke is 37 years old and their once fearsome lineup has many questions to answer, after the sign-stealing scandal, top Astros hitters plummeted to earth in 2020 – Weird how that works huh?
On paper the Astros are the best team in the AL West and the favorite to win the division. But it’s no sure thing, and there’s no value here.
Where you can find value – if you LOVE the Astros and believe these hitters will bounce back – is that they are +1000 to win the American League and +2200 to win the World Series. The Astros are worse than they were the last time they went to the series and the Dodgers (and Padres and Yankees) are a lot better. But if you have to bet the ‘Stros, given the pure talent on the field, this is where the value would be.
The win total for Houston is 87.5 and that feels a little high. I think betting the under is the better play here. There’s still a TON of talent here and the Astros should win 86-88 games. But, buyer beware – remember they went only 29-31 last year, with Valdez and Springer just crushing it. And now they have neither. Our best guess is they win 83-85 games.
Oakland Athletics (+145)
Win Total: 86.5 (-106/-118)
World Series: +2500
American League: +900
Click here for more Athletics AL West odds.
The Athletics won the AL West last year and appear primed to defend that title. But they’ve made some typical “Moneyball-esque” moves that raised some eyebrows. The A’s basically have the best players you’ve never heard of, and that might not be good enough to repeat.
The lineup is led by mainstay sluggers 1B Matt Olson and 3B Matt Chapman and both should challenge 40 home runs, but both have trouble hitting over .240. Ramon Lauerano, Stephen Piscotty and Mark Canha patrol the outfield, and are all solid but not spectacular. Oakland lost their middle infield of Tommy La Stella and Marcus Semien, but are hopeful 32-year-old Elvis Andrus and utility infielder Tony Kemp can fill the void. However, Andrus hit just .194 last year. Long time slugging DH Khris Davis was shipped to Texas and the Athletics replaced him with Mitch Moreland.
Oakland’s bullpen has been completely revamped after losing all-world closer Liam Hendriks and setup man Joakim Soria. Here’s the problem: Hendriks and Soria combined for just 5 wins and 16 saves in 2020. The A’s are hoping Trevor Rosenthal, Sergio Romo, and JB Wendelken can fill that void. So there’s a lot of turnover, but that’s exactly how the Athletics roll.
But where there is not turnover is with their starting rotation. The A’s return the same 5 guys they had last year, and it’s a good group: Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas, Jesus Luzardo, Chris Bassitt, and Mike Fiers. Sure, not household names, but this group can hurl the ball. On paper, the Astros have more talent, but the A’s might just be a better team with better pitching. This should go right down to the wire between the Athletics and Astros. But whereas the Astros struggle in the regular season, they are a tough playoff team. Oakland is not, so I just don’t see the value in betting on the Athletics to win over the Yankees, White Sox, or Astros.
They should win around 86-88 games, so the total of 86.5 is right on the money. I’d tend to avoid this one, as it’s just a little margin for much variation. The A’s are who they appear to be – a solid regular season team, with plenty of spare parts if a cog breaks. Not too much variation for their win total as they should win more than 85 and less than 90.
At +145 to win the AL West, I’m intrigued, but I prefer the Angels at +375.
Los Angeles Angels (+375)
Win Total: 83.5 wins (-118/-106)
World Series: +4000
American League: +2000
Click here for more Angels AL West odds.
Here. We. Go. +4000 to win the World Series. +2000 to win the AL. +375 to win the West.
Why am I leading with this? Well, here’s the thing. The 2020 Angels were not good (26-34, fourth place). Heck, they couldn’t beat out the Mariners. Their team ERA was 5.09. They hit .240 as a team. They were borderline miserable. And yet…they quietly put together an intriguing team this offseason. Is an Angels run at the title likely? Absolutely not. If it was, they wouldn’t be +4000. But of all the teams in MLB, the Angels present the most interesting “What If?”
Quick name the Angels’ first baseman? If you said “whatever remains of Albert Pujols”, you’d be wrong. He’s a bench player. No, it’s rookie Jared Walsh who finished 2020 with the quietest .293-9-26 over the last 30 games maybe ever. If he proves the last 30 days of 2020 weren’t a fluke, he could easily hit 30+ HR and 90-100 RBIs. The Angels already have all-world third baseman Anthony Rendon, who was more than solid in 2020, but also had 34 HR, 126 RBI and hit .319 in 2019 for the Nationals (4.5 WAR). Then of course, there is the best player in the world, Mike Trout, who slashed .281-17-46, .993 OPS, 168 OPS+ in just 199 AB in 2020. His career WAR is 74.6 and he’s only 28. The Angels shrewdly added defensive whiz Jose Iglesias and pair him with another strong defender in David Fletcher (2B), to give them gold-glove caliber defense up the middle. The Angels also have over-looked post-hype top-prospect, Jo Adell, who will challenge Justin Upton and Dexter Fowler for playing time in the OF.
The Angels are going with a six-man rotation, and while returning SP Dylan Bundy, Giffin Canning and Andrew Heaney aren’t necessarily Cy Young candidates, Bundy quietly had one of his best (albeit short) seasons of his career, going 6-3, with a 3.29 ERA, 1.036 WHIP and striking out 72 in 65 innings. If he can duplicate that over a full season, he gives the Angels a legit ace. Heaney has world-class stuff, but hasn’t been able to harness it consistently as he’s as likely to dominate over 6 innings or get lit up in 2 1/3 innings. Griffin Canning is serviceable as a fifth starter. The Angels added Jose Quintana, the former Cub who opted out of 2020, but as solid with a 13-9 record in 2019. He slots in as a good option for No. 2 starting pitcher behind Bundy. Finally, the Angels are giving Alex Cobb a test-run. Cobb was good to great in 2017, winning 12 games, with a 3.66 ERA and 1.22 WHIP for the Rays. Injuries have stalled his career since – he was atrocious for a terrible Orioles team in 2018 (5-15, 4.90, 1.41) but the Angels believe he can rebound and be their 4th starter.
However, the Angles also have their wild card – A six-man rotation, right? Shohei Ohtani has been declared 100-percent healthy by himself and the Angels. Who knows if this is true or if he will stay healthy, but the Angels plan to be very aggressive with him to start 2021, meaning he will play DH 3-4 times a week and pitch 1x/week. This means Ohtani, if healthy, could get around 400 AB as the DH and 20 starts as the 6th starter. In 2018-2019, Ohtani averaged .285-20-60, with 11 SB, .875 OPS, 136 OPS+, in 400 AB. In 2018, in 10 starts, Ohtani went 4-2, 3.31, 1.16 WHIP with 63 K in 51 IP. The talent is there. Imagine if Ohtani hits .290-25 HR- 75 RBI, with 12 wins?
The pundits say the Angels finish in 3rd place, with around 81-83 wins. But so often in baseball, a team seems to come out of nowhere, and shock the world. Afterwards, people want to know, “How’d that happen?” Well, here’s how. If you want to have some fun, the Angels are the team to have fun with. Imagine locking them in now to win the series at +4000 and watching them winning the west in September? I’m high on the Angels and will take the over at 83.5, as even if they don’t “shock the world,” in a weak West, they should win 86-89 games.
Seattle Mariners (+2500)
Win Total: 72.5 (-112/-112)
World Series: +10000
American League: +5000
Click here for more Mariners AL West odds.
The Mariners are coming along nicely and did make some noise in 2020, but overall, the talent just isn’t there yet. They have reigning AL Rookie of the Year in outfielder Kyle Lewis. They have gold glove 1B Evan White, but his bat isn’t nearly as good as his glove. The rest of the lineup has average hitters, Mitch Haniger, JP Crawford, Kyle Seager, Dylan Moore, and Ty France. Nothing to see here – move along.
The Mariners will go with a six-man rotation, with Marco Gonzalez, James Paxton, Justus Sheffield, Yusei Kikuchi, Justin Dunn, and Chris Flexen. These aren’t really household names and for the most part, they’re pants-fillers, not world-beaters. The closer is Rafael Montero, who throws hard and was 8-for-8 last year, but he’s got no track record and will likely be on a short leash.
Bottom line: The Mariners feel like and look like a 70-72 win team on paper and that’s likely exactly where they’ll wind up. Not a ton of value here, but if we’re betting, we’re putting out money on the UNDER 72.5 wins.
Texas Rangers (+6000)
Win Total: 66.5 (-118/-106)
World Series: +15000
American League: +5000
Click here for more Rangers AL West odds.
Oh boy. Don’t mess with Texas. Seriously. Just stop.
Wait, why are you still? Move along…
Ok, fine – here’s a little something.
They have a DH playing 1B, a 1B playing 2B, a catcher playing SS, a SS playing 3B, two bench players in the OF, and two DH’s with only one DH spot. It’s gold glover Joey Gallo and not much else. Their rotation is a mish-mash of mediocrity to god-awfulness. Your best bet might be taking the over on whether the team ERA will be under or over 5.00. Their bullpen isn’t much better.
They should win around 63-65 games, which makes their under at 66.5 the only interesting thing about them.
We are betting UNDER 66.5 wins here.