For these baseball betting previews, our perspective will be along the lines of scouting reports on teams. This will include what they do and don't do well and the various odds are from Intertops on the teams. In order, the odds will list the chances of winning the division, league and Over/Under total.
1) Houston (1st Division odds, 3rd in AL, O/U 96.5)
With the Red Sox the defending champions and Yankees running right there with them, it is easy to forget about Houston. The Astros are the first team since the Bronx Bombers of 2002-04 to win 100 games in consecutive seasons. Playing in a rather weak division (but better than the AL Central), Houston should pick up a lot of victories backed with an excellent everyday lineup led by Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. There is a definite sense of urgency to win this year for Houston with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole both free agents after this season. Anyone who does not think the Astros could not return to the World Series is fooling themselves.
S&S Pick: 90/10 to win the division and 60/40 Over on the total
There is just something about Oakland when they start losing and then, seem years away from being a factor in the AL West, let alone a playoff contender. But with potential star players at the corner spots of the infield in Matt Chapman and Matt Olson, that set the table. Veteran players who know how to win also dot the roster like Khris Davis and Stephen Piscotty. Manager Bob Melvin embraced the "opener" concept having been forced to after losing nearly every starting pitcher. Bullpens are funny from year to year, but Melvin hopes his guys are can duplicate last year's success. The predicted win total is much lower than last year's 97 wins, but can you really win in baseball without at least adequate starting pitching year after year?
S&S Pick: 10% chance to win division 60/40 Over on total
3) L.A.A. Angels (3rd, 6th, O/U 83)
With Mike Trout locked in as an Angel for essentially his playing career, he needs help to reach the postseason. Andrelton Simmons, Justin Upton and Shohei Ohtani (as a hitter) are solid complementary players around Trout, but the rest are merely the kind a .500 team has. The rotation is not as bad as what Texas has, but not sure who sees many positives in Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney, Matt Harvey, and Trevor Cahill. Maybe the safest is the OVER, for the number of starts these four will miss this season. After the farm system has gone from the worst to a Top 10 group and the sooner they can reach the big league level the better.
Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto determined that in spite of an 11-game improvement to 89 wins, that was the ceiling for this team and they were not going to be a real playoff contender this year or in the immediate future. Instead, the Mariners are taking a "step back", with few knowing what that really means. 3B Kyle Seager is coming off a career-worst season at 31 and with less help around him that he's had in years, improvement is not imminent. Felix Hernandez has gone from an ace to a 5th starter, and Marco Gonzales, Mike Leake, and Wade LeBlanc are back of the rotation pitchers. The most exciting news is signing one of Japan's top hurlers in lefty Yusei Kikuchi. Back to drawing board for the M's.
S&S Pick: 55/45 chance of Over on total
5) Texas (5th, 13th, O/U 71)
If the sounds familiar from last year, it is. Here is the Rangers Top 5 starters in order, Lance Lynn, Mike Minor, Edinson Volquez, Yohander Mendez, and Drew Smyly. Now that you have stopped laughing, it will not be a laughing matter for Texas fans. Joey Gallo will strikeout four times and hit a home run. Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor are above average, but not key components. With Adrian Beltre having retired, there is a gaping hole at third base and first base is far from settled with Ronald Guzman occupying that position. This team won 67 times a year ago and not sure where they will find four or five more victories.