MLB Win Totals: Astros Can Take It Easy In AL West

Image Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing new in the AL West this year. There’s the Astros, and then there’s the other four. It makes the job of sorting out MLB win totals somewhat easier: Give Houston a lot, give Oakland nada, and deal with the other three squads.

Those three squads in the middle — Los Angeles, Texas and Seattle — were active in retooling their rosters during the offseason. But they’re three teams united in a mission to prove you don’t need pitching depth to win baseball games. Interesting theory. Let’s see if it works out. continues its 2022 MLB betting preview with a division-by-division look at MLB win totals. Onto the AL West: The Island of Misfit Ballclubs.

2022 AL West Win Totals

Team Win Total
Houston Astros 91.5
Los Angeles Angels 83.5
Seattle Mariners 83.5 (Under -115)
Texas Rangers 74.5 (Under -115)
Oakland A’s 70.5

Odds via DraftKings and updated as of 10 a.m. ET on March 29

Houston Astros Win Total

Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve runs the bases
Image Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

2021 regular-season record: 96-67 (1st place)
2022 win total projection: 91.5
Key additions: INF Niko Goodrum, RP Héctor Nerris
Key subtractions:  SS Carlos Correa, RP Yimi García, INF/OF Marwin Gonzalez, RP Kendall Graveman, SP Zack Greinke

That the Astros largely stood pat is sort of understandable. Last year, they were a 95-win team whose run differential suggested a 102-win team — despite getting all of six innings out of Justin Verlander.

Houston should be able to squeeze another year out of basically the same lineup, minus that one noticeable middle-of-the-order bat. Naturally, losing Carlos Correa and his 5.2 oWAR to the Twins in the AL Central is going to make the offense worse than last year, but the hope is that outfielder Kyle Tucker’s breakout campaign in 2021 — 30 homers, 92 RBI — is a sign of even bigger things to come. Because God forbid karma wake up and get to work on the Houston Didn’t Really Pay a Price Astros. (Seriously, can we at least get Jose Altuve in a John Smoltz-like laundry mishap?)

If the lineup is a little older and creakier and less lethal, the ‘Stros should be able to preserve a good chunk of their gaudy plus-205 run differential on the pitching side. With Verlander (Tommy John surgery) back topping the rotation, the remaining quartet of Framber Valdez, Jose Urquidy, Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers form hands-down the best starting set in the division. If Houston has a soft underbelly, it’s in the bullpen, where it’s Ryan Pressley and a cardboard cutout of Billy Wagner.

That ‘pen absolutely can be the thing that pumps the brakes on Houston’s win total, but all the way to the high 80s? When they get 19 games against Oakland? We’ll roll with the Over. 

Los Angeles Angels Win Total

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout pauses during batting practice in spring training camp
Image Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

2021 regular-season record: 77-85 (5th place)
2022 win total projection: 83.5
Key additions: RP Archie Bradley, INF Matt Duffy, RP Raisel Iglesias, P Michael Lorenzen, SP Noah Syndergaard
Key subtractions: OF Dexter Fowler, SP Alex Cobb, SP Dylan Bundy, RP Steve Cishek, OF Juan Lagares

It’s deeply comical that the Angels have the two best players in the game — and top two AL MVP candidates — and their win total is 83.5. That’s because the organization tends to regard the entire concept of “pitching” like a gang of apes crowding around the monolith: They’re damn certain it’s important, but they just can’t quite figure out how.

No Angels pitcher last year went more than 100 innings other than their full-time DH, Shoehei Ohtani. Recognizing this was an issue, the club went out and got Noah Syndergaard, a man who’s pitched exactly two innings since 2019. Well then. Problem solved.

Trout, Ohtani, however many games they get out of Anthony Rendon, Max Stassi, Jared Walsh, and a potentially emergent Jo Adell is more than fine. They won’t gum you to death. 

On the bump, Ohtani is Ohtani. Patrick Sandoval was excellent in 14 starts last year, but it’s a small sample size. Thor reportedly touched 95 mph on the gun in his first spring start, but even if he can get through the whole campaign, he’s likely to be on an innings limit. And the former is a wide-open assumption at this point. 

We can see a world where things break right and the Angels climb over their MLB win totals projection with 85-88 wins, but we’re not betting on it. Give us the Under.

Seattle Mariners Win Total

Image Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

2021 regular-season record: 90-72 (2nd place)
2022 win total projection: 83.5
Key additions: 2B Adam Frazier, SP Robbie Ray, RP Sergio Romo, 3B Eugenio Suarez, OF Jesse Winker
Key subtractions: SP Tyler Anderson RP Sean Doolittle,  SP Yusei Kikuchi, SP James Paxton, RP Hector Santiago, 3B Kyle Seager (retired)

The Mariners won 90 games last year. We’re not sure how, exactly. But 90. And still didn’t make the playoffs, because it’s the Seattle Mariners. After two full decades, fans wouldn’t even know how to react anymore if their team made the playoffs. Do you bring a gift? Do you wear your underwear on the outside? No news of this strange and wonderful postseason has made its way to the Pacific Northwest. (The Seahawks are laughing that this doesn’t apply to them, too, until they … remember.)

Eugenio Suarez is a nice upgrade over the retired Kyle Seager at the hot corner, and trading for both him and Jesse Winker lengthens a lineup that wasn’t particularly impressive last year. 

Chris Flexen and now Robbie Ray head a staff without much behind them. Do you think Ray is a pitcher who finally put it all together last season when he won the AL Cy Young, or a pitcher who caught the second fluke season of his career? 

How you answer that question probably decides how you feel about them hurdling their modest MLB win totals projection of 83.5. We’re inclined to lean the other way, not only because we don’t have full faith and trust in Ray to do it again, but also because this team was insanely lucky to hit 90 last year. Their Pythagorean had them as a 75-win squad. The additions certainly make them better than 75, but probably not as good as 84.

Texas Rangers Win Total

Texas Rangers right-handed pitcher Jon Gray reaches back to throw a. pitch during a spring training game against the Oakland Athletics
at Hohokam Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

2021 regular-season record: 60-102 (5th place)
2022 win total projection: 74.5
Key additions: OF Kole Calhoun, C Mitch Garver,  SP Jon Gray, RP Brad Holland, OF Billy McKinney, SP Martín Peréz, SP Garett Richards, SS Corey Seager, 2B Marcus Semien, RP Brandon Workman
Key subtractions: SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa, SP Jordan Lyles, SP Mike Foltynewicz

Look at the offseason the Rangers had and try to convince us that Jerry Jones didn’t secretly buy this team. 

They signed Marcus Semien to a monster seven-year deal and then just … went ahead and got Corey Seager a day later on an even bigger deal. Wait, don’t they both play shortstop? So what. Wade Phillips and Barry Switzer will straighten it out.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you they can’t fire all the players so they fire coaches instead. This is the Ship of Theseus of Rangers.

Good news is Texas won’t lose 100 again, and this club will certainly hit. But the Rangers ran out of money buying up all the big-ticket shortstops, and thus could only afford Jon Gray to come in and pitch. The rest of the rotation? It’s like yo mamma in a hall of mirrors: a lot of ugly.

If what we just said about the Angels is true, it goes double for Texas. Fun fact: The Rangers’ staff projects to have the second-lowest combined WAR as a pitching group in all of baseball, according to FanGraphs. Not fun if you’re a Rangers fan. But it is fun if you plan on betting Texas games Over the total this season! 

The Rangers’ win total of 74.5 number in the MLB win totals market seems right around where it should be. They’ll win some 10-8 games, but until they sort out their pitching, they aren’t going to be able to take advantage of that 10-year window they bought themselves.

Oakland A’s Win Total

Oakland Athletics left-handed pitcher Sean Manaea delivers a pitch from the mound during a spring training game against the Los Angeles Dodgers
Image Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2021 regular-season record: 86-76 (3rd place)
2022 win total projection: 70.5
Key additions: LOL
Key subtractions:  Everyone. SP Chris Bassitt, OF Mark Canha, RP Andrew Chafin, 3B Matt Chapman, DH Khris Davis, RP Mike Friers, C Yan Gomes, 2B Josh Harrison, OF Starling Marte, 1B Mitch Moreland, 1B Matt Olson, RP Sergio Romo, RP Trevor Rosenthal, SP Vida Blue, 3B Eric Chavez, that one cool Bash Brothers poster where Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire were dressed like the Blues Brothers, A.A. Milne, all the aardvarks in the Oakland Zoo. Just … everyone.

The Athletics clearly aren’t interested in winning baseball games, and you shouldn’t be interested in betting them to do that.

This isn’t a fire sale. It’s a solar flare that engulfed an entire organization. By the time you read this, SPs Frankie Montas Sean Mannea, along with prized young catcher Sean Murphy, may already be gone or their departures imminent (if they’re lucky). Oakland does have a Kevin Smith on its roster, and we’re not 100 percent certain it isn’t the guy who directed Clerks.

If the A’s get to 71 wins, it’ll be by complete accident. It’s possible that this squad could Producers their way Over their win total. But they won’t get our cash in the effort.