After posting their first winning season in seven years, and returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2005, the Houston Astros open spring training as strong +160 favorites on the odds to win the AL West title at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The Astros stormed out to an early lead in the AL West in 2015 with a league-best 18-8 start, holding the division lead until well into July, but struggled in the second half, enduring a number of lengthy losing skids, including a brutal 7-15 run in September, before clinching an AL Wild Card berth.
Houston is closely trailed on the AL West odds by last year’s division champs, the Texas Rangers, sporting a betting line of +210. The Rangers’ 8-16 start last season sent their World Series odds tumbling to 500/1, but the club rebounded to win their first division title since 2011, and returns to action with last year’s roster largely intact.
The Los Angeles Angels finished just one game back of the Astros in both the divisional and Wild Card races, and returns to action sporting +375 odds, closely followed by the Seattle Mariners at +400, and the Oakland A’s, who trail as +1200 longshots.
In the AL Central, the World Series champion Kansas City Royals are pegged as heavy +110 favorites to repeat as division champs and return to the postseason for a third straight year. The Cleveland Indians have emerged as a strong +250 bet on the AL Central futures, ahead of the Detroit Tigers at +400, the Chicago White Sox at +600, and the Minnesota Twins at +1000.
In the AL East, the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox open camp deadlocked atop the division odds at +160, closely trailed by the New York Yankees at +350, while the Baltimore Orioles sit alongside the Tampa Bay Rays as intriguing +900 longshots.
Over in the Senior Circuit, the Chicago Cubs are heavy -150 favorites to be crowned NL Central champs for the first time since 2008, ahead of the three-time defending division champion St. Louis Cardinals at +250, and the Pittsburgh Pirates at +300.
It’s a two-way race atop the NL East odds, where the New York Mets get the nod as -110 chalk, ahead of the Washington Nationals at +110, while the Miami Marlins sit back at +600.
And the San Francisco Giants are a solid +125 bet to return to the playoffs this season as NL West champions, edging out the Los Angeles Dodgers, who sit at +150, and the retooled Arizona Diamondbacks at +300.