by OddsShark (@OddsShark)
Having the best record in Major League Baseball and the label of a proven winner has made the Houston Astros the betting favorite to capture the American League pennant.
At this writing, the Astros are the +150 favorite (bet $100 to win $150) on the American League pennant odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The top of the futures board also includes the New York Yankees (+350), Minnesota Twins (+375), Tampa Bay Rays (+500) and defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox (+1100).
Houston is the only AL team that is in the top three in the MLB in both OPS (on-base-plus-slugging) by its hitters (.811, second) and in team earned-run average (3.44, third) by its pitchers. Injuries that have led to second baseman Jose Altuve, shortstop Carlos Correa and outfielder George Springer currently being on the injured list have hardly slowed Houston down, and it’s understandable that a team that won the World Series just two years ago and has been in the playoffs three of the last four seasons would draw betting action.
The Yankees (+350) present some enticing value on those MLB odds, but it might be best to adopt the wait-and-see approach, given their plethora of injuries to key contributors. It is admirable they have kept pace in the AL East despite having slugging outfielders Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, starting pitcher Luis Severino and reliever Dellin Betances each miss significant time with injuries.
There might well be more value in the small-market Twins (+375), whose balanced lineup led by shortstop Eddie Rosario and outfielder Jorge Polanco has posted the highest OPS in MLB. The main question about the Twins is their pitching – they are seventh in the majors with a 3.97 team ERA – but they almost certainly will be shopping for a rental player to add to their starting rotation before the July 31 trade deadline.
The Rays (+500) likely have the pitching to keep up with the big dogs, as their 2.92 ERA is the tidiest in all of baseball. Interestingly, only two of the last 10 teams to lead MLB in ERA during the regular season – the 2010 San Francisco Giants and 2016 Chicago Cubs – also captured a league pennant.
It’s probably OK to fade the Red Sox, who have yet to show great consistency and would have to contend with two strong teams if they are to get back in postseason contention.
Other darkhorses include the Cleveland Indians (+2200), Texas Rangers (+2500) and Oakland Athletics (+3000), who are in striking distance of the AL’s second wild-card berth.