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MLB Expert John Bollman's AL West Betting Preview - 2022 Season

AL West is next, and they have plenty of teams that could contend this season. It has been the Astros division in 4 of the last 5 years, but will they continue their dominance? Both the Mariners and Angels look to challenge the Astros this season, but why aren’t the Athletics in the AL West conversation anymore? The Rangers also made a big splash in free agency, so just about every team in this division actively tried to get better over the offseason. I think this will be one of the closer races we’ve seen in the AL West in some time.

Texas Rangers

Let’s talk about the Texas Rangers first. They made a massive splash in free agency signing both Marcus Semien and Corey Seager to long term deals, suring up their middle infield for a while. They also traded for Mitch Garver, the only problem is they don’t have much after that. They should get a boost with prospects arriving soon. Josh Jung should be up sometime this season and Jack Leiter will be up sooner than people think. Jon Gray was a solid signing as well and it will be interesting to see how he does outside of Coors Field. But the rest of their pitching staff is very young, and they don’t have any depth. They also lost their only reliable bullpen arm from 2021 to free agency in Ian Kennedy, so this team is still a few years away. They are +1800 to win the division for a reason but building up the middle is a great way to get that number down.

Oakland Athetics

The Athletics are the only team in this division that is on the downswing of the rollercoaster. Their regular Season Win Total opened at 79.5 before they offloaded many key players in the past couple weeks. Now it is all the way down to 70.5, and I would not recommend a play on it. The Athletics lost many key players including Matt Olson, Chris Bassitt, Matt Chapman, and Mark Canha. They are also expected to trade Sean Manaea at the very least before the trade deadline. This team is tearing it all down right now, as they can also see that the rest of the division is on the upswing. The Athletics still have many promising names like Brent Honeywell, AJ Puk and Christian Pache but they will not win very many games this season.

Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners haven’t even made the playoffs in 20 years, but they did come close last season after winning 90 games. They went out and added Robbie Ray in free agency to help that pitching staff, and they have a good bullpen rolling over from last season. They traded for Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez, and they will have Logan Gilbert and Jarred Kelenic for a full season. Kyle Lewis is expected to miss the start of the season, but he should play more than he did last season. The Mariners definitely overperformed last season to get their 90 wins, but they should be much more consistent this season. And most importantly, they have a front office that is committed to winning now.

This team is on the upswing, and their Regular Season Win Total is set at just 83.5. I think they could come close to challenging the division but not actually winning it. They are +460 to win the AL West, however they are just +175 to make the playoffs. I love this over and I think the Mariners could make the playoffs this season. The division should be much more open with just the Angels and Astros competing with the Mariners, and the American League doesn’t have many teams that can make the playoffs. I would say 9 total teams in the AL could legitimately make the playoffs and the Mariners are one of them. With an extra playoff spot this season, I could see them making the playoffs for the first time in 20 years.

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels are a big question mark every season. They always have the talent, but they never have the pitching. They are trying to do something about that, but I don’t think they are anywhere near where they want to be yet. Shoehi Ohtani is a stud, but he can only pitch once every week. Noah Syndergaard is a good addition but who knows how healthy he will be. After that, there isn’t really anyone. Raisel Iglesias is a great closing option, but they have no one to get them to the 9th inning. This team still needs about 3 or 4 starting pitchers, as well as multiple relivers to become a contender. It’s honestly kind of sad how poorly constructed this roster is year in and year out. They have an absolutely stacked lineup that we will get into in a second, but their pitching staff is the bare minimum.

Shohei Ohtani, Anthony Rendon, Mike Trout, Jo Adell, Justin Upton, and Jared Walsh round out one of the best lineups in the league. This top half of the lineup can honestly compete with anyone in baseball. Their whole lineup can compete really, but their pitching will hold them back. The Angels Regular Season Win Total is set at 84.5 which doesn’t give much wiggle room. They won just 77 games last season although they were missing Mike Trout for most of it. I think this lineup should keep this team competitive all season, but their pitching will prove to not be enough again. The win total is just about dead on. They are exactly even to make the playoffs at +100 and I wanted to take them so bad. But they still haven’t addressed the single most glaring need they have had for all of Mike Trout’s Angels tenure. Pitching. I would agree that I think they have about a 50-50 chance to make the playoffs, so there isn’t value at +100. But until this team invests in pitching, they won’t contend in this league.

Houston Astros

Last but certainly not least, we will talk about the Houston Astros, who have won 4 of the last 5 AL West titles. This is a younger, newer Astros team than we have seen. No George Springer who left 2 seasons ago, no Carlos Correa, no Zack Greinke. They get Justin Verlander back and they have very good starting pitching options behind him. Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, and Jose Urquidy are all still young, but a year of World Series experience will do them wonders. Lance McCullers Jr. is expected to miss the beginning of the season but should be back. They also have good bullpen options in Ryan Pressly and Hector Neris. There is a reason this team is favored so heavily at -160 to win the AL West.

They still have Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Michael Brantley, and Yordan Alvarez. This is still a very good team as they made it to the World Series last season, and they still have one of the better lineups in the league. I think they should be favored to win the division, but I am not laying -160, which is why I am staying off. Their win total is set at 92.5 and I think they will win right around 94 or 95 games so the over would qualify as more of a lean. They have a couple solid prospects due to come up this season, but they don’t have a ton of organizational depth after buying at the trade deadline every season recently.

John's AL West Verdict

The Astros should win the division, but I think the Mariners are due for a historic season. I am excited to see if the Mariners finally break their postseason drought, and I think they finally built the roster to do it. It is still the Astros division to lose, but it should be very competitive this season with the top three teams.

John's Pick

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Mariners Over 83.5 Regular Season Wins @ -110

John's Pick

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Mariners to Make the Playoffs @ +175
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