Defending Champion Rangers Are Not Favorites to Win AL West

Gabriel Santiago
Gabriel Santiago@gps_onthemic
Defending Champion Rangers Are Not Favorites to Win AL West

The 2024 MLB season will be here before you know it -- pitchers and catchers have already reported for spring training.

With the NFL season wrapped up and the NBA campaign passed All-Star Weekend, now is an optimal time to get up to speed on some of the MLB odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the AL West odds for this year.

All MLB odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.

AL West Odds

2023 Record
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds
Houston Astros90-72-105
Texas Rangers90-72+200
Seattle Mariners88-74+300
Los Angeles Angels73-89+4500
Oakland Athletics50-112+25000

The Texas Rangers are coming off their first World Series title in franchise history. Still, many supporters feel the Houston Astros actually let another championship slip away. After all, Houston has won the AL pennant in four of the past seven years -- if it weren't for the 2023 Rangers, that Astros number would be five of seven.

Behind the "Silver Boot Series" rivals, the Seattle Mariners have the third-shortest odds to win the AL West in 2024. Of course, the M's did well to battle formidably into September last year. Perhaps Seattle builds off that.

In the division's cellar we see the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics. Naturally, the Halos will be reeling for a while after letting Shohei Ohtani walk for nothing in return. Up north, the A's might just be the worst-run franchise in American professional sports. Once a proud and decorated ball club, the Athletics -- who have won more AL West titles than any other franchise -- may soon be homeless.

Houston Astros (-105)

The Astros have been crowned kings of the AL West for three seasons running. Further out, Houston has won the grouping in six of the past seven years. Since 2017, Oakland is the only other team to have worn the AL divisional crown.

The 'Stros will return familiar faces in Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman. Between those slugging infielders, the former recently signed a contract extension that should keep him in Houston for the remainder of his MLB career.

In the pitching rotation, H-Town should be strong there once again. Closer Josh Hader will join a staff that already includes the likes of Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier. For 2023, this group had the sixth-best team ERA (3.94) in the American League.

In the modern era, Houston has built a standard of baseball excellence. Sans the COVID-shortened campaign, the Astros have averaged 100.3 wins per season dating back to 2017. In the American League, that is the winningest rate through that span by a wide margin. Those days were under managers A.J. Hinch and Dusty Baker; how will newly hired skipper Joe Espada do?

Similar to last campaign, Houston will spend considerable effort this year fending off the Rangers. The 'Stros may have won the AL West along with the regular-season Silver Boot Series (9-4) in 2023, but the eventual-champion Rangers earned the last laugh. Expect Space City to return angry.

For what it's worth, Houston (1.29 nERD) is rated as the top American League team heading into 2024, per numberFire.

Texas Rangers (+200)

Speaking of the Rangers, Texas enters the incoming campaign as reigning champions for the first time in franchise history. Notably, it is the inaugural Commissioner's Trophy for the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area.

In his first year out of retirement, Rangers manager Bruce Bochy brought glory to the Metroplex. Utilizing a dynamic roster, Texas provided plenty of pop and prowess. In the batter's box, the Rangers produced the American League's highest team OPS (.789). They also did well to smash 233 total home runs in 2023, which was tied for third in the Majors.

Led by a slugging middle infield, Marcus Semien and Corey Seager had one of the best offensive seasons you'll see from a double-play duo. Each member of the pair collected more than 95 RBI last year. From there, right fielder Adolis Garcia paced Texas with 39 long balls.

The Rangers are also geared behind strong starting pitching. In 2023, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney and Dane Dunning each collected 10 or more wins. That trio will return to DFW in 2024. Eovaldi established himself as the staff ace, twice going the distance (CG) last year.

Further, Texas still has eyes on Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom, as well, both of whom are returning from injury. Scherzer was shut down with back issues in the most recent World Series while deGrom is attempting to return from a second Tommy John surgery.

Seattle Mariners (+300)

After ending the United States' longest professional playoff drought in 2022, the Mariners missed the 2023 postseason by the skin of their teeth.

Despite an impressive 88-74 record in 2023, Seattle was left out of October baseball by two games in the division and only one game back in the Wild Card standings in lieu of teams like the Astros, Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays. Simply, I'd expect the M's to return very hungry for the approaching campaign.

The Mariners have found recent success behind hyper-efficient pitching. On the bump, Seattle posted last season's lowest team ERA (3.74) in MLB. Like Texas, the M's have a strong rotation behind a trio of starters: Luis Castillo, Logan Gilbert and George Kirby -- the latter paced all of baseball in 2023 with a strikeout-to-walk ratio at 9.05 SO/BB.

At the plate, Seattle has the talents of 23-year-old superstar Julio Rodriguez. The 6-foot-3 center fielder is fresh off his first 30-30 campaign, popping 32 homers and stealing 37 bases in 2023. From there, shortstop J.P. Crawford and catcher Cal Raleigh provide further strength up the middle.

Transparently, the M's have not won the AL West since 2001 when they tied an MLB record with 116 regular-season wins. Additionally, they are the only existing MLB franchise to never appear in a World Series. Seattle skipper Scott Servais can use these facts to create urgency along the watchtower.

Los Angeles Angels (+4500)

The Angels are seeing their worst nightmare come to fruition.

Nestled in the heart of Orange County, the Halos have long lived in the shadow of the Los Angeles Dodgers (who play ball just 30 miles up Interstate 5). In 2023, the Angels failed to trade two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani. Incidentally, Ohtani departed for Chavez Ravine in free agency, providing Anaheim nothing in return.

Naturally, the Halos no longer use "Anaheim" in their moniker, but on the outskirts of Disneyland, they certainly have more pressing issues. The Angels have not won their division since 2014, which simultaneously served as the team's most recent playoff appearance. In six campaigns with both Ohtani and Mike Trout on the roster, there were exactly zero postseason games played at Angel Stadium.

Trout will be back in 2024 for his 14th year in Anaheim. Of course, the Angels will need much more than that, and it certainly does not bode well for your brand when highly compensated players like Anthony Rendon attempt to belittle the process.

Genuinely, I am not exactly sure where the Halos go from here. They finished with a 73-89 in 2023, which positioned them next-to-last in the AL West. Additionally, Orange County native Phil Nevin was fired from his manager's post last season. Can respected MLB-lifer Ron Washington improve the Angels' culture?

Oakland Athletics (+25000)

To piggyback off the Halos, American League baseball is not going well in California. It is actually quite sad how quickly you can ruin a once-great franchise via rampant neglect.

As noted, Oakland has won an AL West title (2020) more recently than any team not named the Houston Astros. From there, the Athletics' 17 division crowns are most in this grouping by a fair number -- the Angels are in second place with 9.

Of course, it can be difficult to imagine this current version of the A's as one of only two MLB franchises -- along with the New York Yankees -- to have previously won three consecutive World Series championships. In 2023, the Athletics played to an abysmal 50-112 record. That campaign set Oakland's all-time mark for most losses in a single season.

This millennium, A's team owner John Fisher has not put much (or any) stock into improving the team's facilities. He seems to be attempting to rot the franchise into a charitable stadium deal with Las Vegas. There have since been conflicting details of said plans in Southern Nevada, but at a certain point, MLB will need to protect its overall brand. Does that mean commissioner Rob Manfred forces some action with this situation?

Frankly, the Athletics will likely produce 100 or more losses for the third consecutive season. The A's have never accomplished that negative feat since moving to the East Bay in 1968. But as it is currently, numberFire's MLB power rankings have Oakland (-1.72 nERD) positioned dead last in the American League.

Sadly, the current scenario with the A's has become eerily reminiscent of the plot in Major League (1989) -- bet on them only with the utmost caution.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.