AL Pennant Odds: Blue Jays Lead Jumbled Race

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays returns to the dugout in the middle of the fourth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies during a Grapefruit League
Image Credit: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Here’s all you need to know about this year’s race to capture the 2022 American League pennant: The favorite didn’t even make the playoffs last season. Yes, sportsbooks are giving the Toronto Blue Jays a slight edge in the AL pennant odds market, despite finishing a game out of the wild card in 2021.

The Blue Jays are the +450 favorites at the Westgate SuperBook. But unlike in the National League, where oddsmakers have Dodgers fever, Toronto is hardly an overwhelming chalk. The defending AL champion Houston Astros, Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays are tightly packed behind the Jays at 6-1. The New York Yankees are 7-1, the perennially disappointing Los Angeles Angels are 9-1, and the Boston Red Sox are 10-1. continues its MLB season preview with a breakdown of the favorites and sleepers in the AL pennant odds race.

Team Odds
Toronto Blue Jays +450
Houston Astros +600
Tampa Bay Rays +600
Chicago White Sox +600
New York Yankees +700
Los Angeles Angels +900
Boston Red Sox +1,000
Seattle Mariners +1,200
Detroit Tigers +2,000
Cleveland Guardians +3,000
Minnesota Twins +3,000
Texas Rangers +4,000
Kansas City Royals +4,000
Oakland Athletics +10,000
Baltimore Orioles +10,000

Odds via the Westgate SuperBook as of 10:30 a.m. ET on April 6.

Toronto’s Time?

Jose Berrios #17 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch to the Philadelphia Phillies in the first inning during a Grapefruit League spring training game at TD Ballpark
Image Credit: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Blue Jays (+450) finished in fourth place in the AL East last season and narrowly missed the playoffs despite a 91-71 record. They posted a +183 run differential, ranking third in the league behind Tampa Bay (+206) and Houston (+205).

Toronto made the expanded playoffs during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and Westgate SuperBook manager Randy Blum said he has been awaiting the Blue Jays’ breakthrough.

“You knew they were coming two years ago,” Blum said. “They took the next step last year, and they’re looking to continue this year.”

Blum said his only concern with a team that features AL MVP candidate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the back end of the rotation.

“You know they’re going to score a lot of runs,” he said. “Offensively, they’re a very scary team.”

AL East Logjam

Wander Franco #5 of the Tampa Bay Rays in action against the New York Yankees
Image Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Blue Jays will once again be in a tight AL East race with the Rays (6-1), Yankees (7-1) and Red Sox (10-1), who all made the playoffs last season.

Blum said he is done doubting Tampa Bay, which went 100-62 and ran away with the division title last season but lost to the Red Sox in the AL Division Series. The Rays have won at least 90 games in the past three full seasons and posted an even better record, based on win percentage, during the pandemic season (40-20).

Despite that, Tampa Bay is a distant third choice to even defend its AL East title.

“Everyone seems to think the Rays are going to take a step back, and I don’t get it,” Blum said.

Tampa will have 21-year-old shortstop Wander Franco for a full season after he finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting despite playing just 70 games.

The Yankees didn’t make any big moves in the offseason, but they still have a solid bullpen and a top-tier ace in AL Cy Young favorite Gerrit Cole. While many dabbling in the AL pennant odds market are down on Tampa Bay’s chances in 2022, the Red Sox are the team Blum is selling. Boston reached the 2021 AL Championship Series, falling to Houston.

“The Red Sox, in our opinion, overachieved last year, and we expect regression this year,” Blum said.

Sleeping Tigers

Javier Baez #28 of the Detroit Tigers hits a single in the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies
Image Credit: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The White Sox (6-1) and Astros (6-1) are the clear favorites in the AL Central and AL West, respectively, and definitely will be World Series contenders. But from a betting perspective, Blum is more interested in a longer shot.

The Detroit Tigers (20-1) showed signs of life last season after four straight terrible years. Detroit still went only 77-85, but that represented the Tigers’ best season by far since winning 86 games in 2016.

Detroit then showed a sense of purpose in the offseason by signing veteran left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez and All-Star shortstop Javier Baez to free-agent contracts.

“I’m very high on the Tigers,” Blum said. “I think they finally might take the next step.”

Angels Never Get Their Wings

Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels runs out of the batter's box to first base during a spring training game against the Colorado Rockies
Image Credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images

On the other end of the spectrum, the Angels (9-1) continue to attract money every year thanks to the star power of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. And every year, the Halos they leave bettors with a big hole in their bankrolls.

The Angels haven’t had a winning record since 2015 despite having the league MVP in three of the past six seasons (Trout twice and Ohtani last season). On top of that, they signed Anthony Rendon two years ago after the All-Star third baseman helped lead the Nationals to the 2019 World Series and finished third in NL MVP voting.

“They’re a hard team to figure out. They just never seem to win,” Blum said. “They have the two favorites for AL MVP, and then you do their win total and it works out to 83.5.”

Despite that lack of success, Blum said the Angels are the Westgate’s biggest liability to win the World Series, with one bettor placing what Blum called “a significant bet” when the Angels were at 40-1.