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Is there any division more interesting this season than the AL West? The Astros are loaded with talent but riddled with off-field questions; the Athletics and Angels are dark-horse title contenders if they hit their ceilings; and the Rangers and Mariners have upside if the bottom doesn't fall out.
Here are the win totals for all five teams in the AL West, with our lean on their chances in 2020:
|Los Angeles Angels||31.5|
Did any team have a worse offseason than the Astros? First, they watched Gerrit Cole, arguably the best pitcher in the game, sign a mega-deal with the Yankees. Then, the sport's biggest scandal since the steroid era cast a cloud over the organization. Oh, and Houston's manager got fired, too.
Still, this is a low bar to clear for a team that's won at least 101 games - a 37.4-win pace in 60 contests - in each of the past three years and boasts the AL's reigning Cy Young winner (Justin Verlander) and MVP runner-up (Alex Bregman). It's not as obvious as it should be given the internal turmoil, but the talent screams over here.
We've lauded Oakland's title chances this offseason, and that applies to its win total, too. The Athletics have three MVP-caliber infielders in Matt Chapman, Marcus Semien, and Matt Olson - all three of whom are Gold Glove-level defenders for the best defense in baseball.
That's a tremendous gift for Oakland's pitching staff, which is chock-full of high volatility starters who could make or break this season. With lessened workloads and an elite infield defense behind them, bet on the "make" side of that coin and take the over on a reasonable total.
It's easy to make the case for the Angels' over in 2020. Similarly to the A's, the Halos have three MVP contenders at the plate - Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Shohei Ohtani - and some upside in the rotation. But that's where things start to fall apart.
New additions Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy aren't enough to save one of the worst pitching staffs from 2019. And two of those studs in the lineup (Trout and Ohtani) are question marks to play the entire season for personal and health reasons, respectively. If everything goes right, there's intrigue, but enough could go wrong to have me leaning under.
At a glance, there's some excitement with the Rangers' roster. All signs are pointing to a Joey Gallo breakout after an injury-riddled 2019, which could take Texas' lineup from average to good in 2020. And the team's rotation, which was borderline awful a year ago, has tremendous upside behind the trio of Lance Lynn, Mike Minor, and Corey Kluber.
Can they actually hit that ceiling, though? Gallo is no less injury-prone this year, even in a short slate, and all three of those arms have underlying concerns that threaten their production. To expect near .500-level play is too much to ask in a loaded division.
After a down season a year ago, it's fair to lump the Mariners in with the worst teams of 2020. But recent campaigns suggest real potential with this club. In three of the last six seasons, Seattle was on a playoff pace through the first 60 games, winning at least 30 contests in all three.
The M's have had a win percentage better than this win total suggests (40.8%) in each of the last nine years, and there is still some young talent in this lineup. With every star-level scrimmage and batting practice, it's looking harder for the Mariners to justify keeping down top prospect Jarred Kelenic, too, which could completely change the makeup of their lineup. Bet on upside and take the over at a low number.
(Odds source: theScore Bet)
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.