The Los Angeles Angels have undergone one of the most disappointing runs of any MLB franchise in the past decade or so. They boast one of the all-time greats in Mike Trout and were even lucky enough to land an instant superstar and eventual MVP in Shohei Ohtani. Nevertheless, they’ve failed to do anything of significance at the team level. Angels odds once again paint them as a longshot to even win the AL West.
The double-digit number is underselling this team, though, which has actually finally put some decent pieces around its two stars. Hence, after a year of blissfully avoiding losing MLB futures bets on this team, I’ve bought back in at sizable odds.
Angels MLB Futures Odds
Let’s get this out of the way to start: the Astros should absolutely win the AL West. That’s why they’re . I made my largest futures wager of the 2022 season on them to win the division around -170, which cashed easily. Humble brag.
However, I think the Angels have done enough this offseason to close the gap on the Astros and Mariners that they’re worth a bet.
Entering 2022, the team had a pretty patchwork starting rotation. However, they actually performed pretty decently.
The offense, however, was a train wreck outside of Trout and Ohtani. It’s hard to believe that a team with two of the top five to 10 hitters in baseball can finish 21st with a 93 wRC+, but the Angels somehow managed it. A combination of injuries and terrible performance from previously solid players decimated this lineup to the point Ohtani was the only truly reliable contributor. Even Trout missed about 40 games, which has become a semi-regular occurrence as this point.
Their bullpen was also atrocious, delivering a collective 3.95 ERA that actually included some good fortune if the 4.31 FIP is accounted for. They even had the distinction of being one of only 10 relief cores across MLB to produce negative WPA (win probability added).
Add it all up, and a team with two players producing at an MVP level somehow won 73 games.
Check our World Series odds and MLB odds pages to find the prices on any team you want to bet.
Angels Odds: Patch Up Lineup, Rotation
In the offseason, the Angels attempted the novel concept of balancing out the roster by signing a bunch of solid major league veterans. Last season, the team had zero players earning between $7.5 million and $30 million, where Trout and Anthony Rendon reside. This year, the Angels have six such players, though one is Shohei Ohtani, who got a massive arbitration raise. The other five were all offseason additions:
- SP Tyler Anderson
- RF Hunter Renfroe
- 2B/UT Brandon Drury
- SS/3B Gio Urshela
- RP Matt Moore
The Angels have far better depth and roster balance than they’ve had in the past to support Trout and Ohtani. Urshela isn’t even penciled into the starting lineup. He’s averaged a 2.6 WAR per 600 PAs over the past four years — easily worth an above-average starter.
Additionally, there’s always the outside chance Rendon gets healthy and/or returns to form. The projections still believe in him, forecasting well above-average production. Jared Walsh also played injured and had a major surgery in the offseason. Hopefully, for the sake of my futures, he can recover to previous form.
Starting pitching looks too left-handed, but that shouldn’t be a major issue as long as Patrick Sandoval and Tyler Anderson remain in possession of elite changeups. Anderson had no platoon split last year and Sandoval was just a hair below average against righties while decimating lefties. He’s already said he plans to employ this pitch type more this season.
The bullpen still looks weak. But, that’s the easiest area in which to make in-season additions and/or have variance shift things for the better.
What Will Trout And Ohtani Do In 2023?
Of course, the rub is that these additions must come in and perform while Trout and Ohtani remain healthy and produce at superstar levels.
Ohtani seems a surer thing, but he’s still a pitcher. Pitchers frequently break. He’s been the best player in baseball for the past two seasons, but it’s not realistic to expect that again if only because of variance. There’s only one direction he can go in from No. 1.
Trout has not had 600 PA since 2019, though he was pacing that way in 2020. The last time he got through a full season without injuries costing him at least 20 games was 2016 (2020 excepted). The days of Trout playing a full season and easily scooping MVPs with 10 WAR are probably over.
Thankfully, the Angels have better set up the roster to withstand some missed games due to small ailments.
Other AL West Contenders
The AL West should be a hotly contested division. Houston doesn’t look quite as strong as in years past, the Mariners are pushing hard to overtake them, and the Rangers have spent big in two straight offseasons. I’ll briefly run through what I’m seeing in each of the other contenders and why the Angels have a chance to pull this out.
Apologies to the Oakland A’s and their fans — if they still have any as the team declares open marriage and flirts with Las Vegas.
The defending world champs have an insane lineup. No doubting that. Eli Hershkovich wound up betting longshot AL MVP futures on Jose Abreu in late February. Abreu’s best available odds are currently .
However, the Astros’ starting pitching looks potentially flimsy. Losing Justin Verlander and his monster 6.1 fWAR looms as an obvious blow. They don’t have a single sure thing aside from Framber Valdez. Cristian Javier has never started a full season and basically throws two pitches. Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy occupy opposing sides of league average with Garcia on the good end. Hunter Brown is a rookie and Lance McCullers is already injured yet again.
Having one pitcher who can realistically be counted on for 180 innings would make me pretty nervous as an Astros futures backer.
Seattle has the reverse team build of the Astros. They have an awesome staff (both teams’ bullpens should be strong) but a questionable lineup.
Last season, they ranked a surprising seventh in wRC+. I’m skeptical they can repeat that. Most glaringly, Eugenio Suarez reversed two years of huge decline with a 4.1 fWAR season. Entering his age-31 season and having posted a fifth-percentile strikeout rate last year (per Statcast), he probably won’t come close to repeating. If he regresses, they might not have a single above-average batter from the five-hole on.
The computers share my skepticism, with FanGraphs’ depth charts projecting them to finish 22nd in runs scored per game.
Texas might have the widest range of outcomes of any MLB team. If things break right, the Rangers could be a dark horse World Series contender. If things go wrong, they might fall flat with another 68-win season, like what happened last year when they were expected to show considerable improvement.
The Rangers completely revamped their starting pitching with a spending spree:
- Jacob deGrom
- Martin Perez
- Jon Gray
- Nathan Eovaldi
- Andrew Heaney
Only Perez and Gray played for the team last season. The staff looks great on paper. In reality, how many innings will these guys pitch, though? deGrom is already hurt, Eovaldi missed a large chunk of three of the past four full MLB seasons, and let’s charitably call Heaney inconsistent.
Like Seattle, Texas has a very top-heavy lineup that could be a series of black holes in the bottom half. What they’ll get outside of Marcus Semien, Corey Seager and Nate Lowe is anyone’s guess.
Angels Odds: Bet AL West Futures (+1200)
Projections at FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus both have the Angels around 14% to win the division. That’s around double the implied probability of this number, which offers considerably more value than the +800 or so that the rest of the market is dealing.
I took the plunge and bought Angels +1200 on Caesars Sportsbook, and the number remains out there as of this writing. Winning the AL West will be a very tall order because of the division’s depth, but with some luck, I think the Angels odds are live.