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Making a case for the A's to win the AL West

Profile Picture: Robert Criscola

July 18th, 2021

It was just about a month ago when the Oakland Athletics were in first place over the Houston Astros, and oddsmakers could hardly make up their mind on who the favorite in the AL West race should be. The A’s were slight underdogs at -106, while the ‘Stros were -113. Houston has since built a modest 3 1/2-game division lead, but now oddsmakers seem to think the fight is over.

The Astros are commanding -625 favorites to win the AL West crown just two games into the unofficial second half of the MLB season, with the A’s a relatively-large second choice at +400. We’ll discuss why Oakland should not be overlooked below.

American League West 2021

Mon, October 4 2021, 5:00 PM

Houston Astros

-625

Oakland Athletics

+400

Seattle Mariners

+2700

Los Angeles Angels

+4000

Texas Rangers

+35000

A’s have plenty of reliable arms

The A’s have quality pitching in spades this season. Sean Manaea and Chris Bassitt – sporting matching 3.28 ERAs through their first 19 starts – anchor the rotation, with Cole Irvin (3.65 ERA) and Frankie Montas (4.33 ERA) lining up as solid depth options. Rookie James Kaprielian could be key to a deep postseason run, as he owns a 2.90 ERA through his first 11 outings as a big-leaguer.

The bullpen has not suffered for the loss of Liam Hendriks in free agency, as Lou Trivino won AL Reliever of the Month for June. Yusmeiro Petit has authored a 3.17 ERA, along with a team-leading 16 holds.

Home run hitters in the lineup

Oakland has plenty of pop in it’s lineup, and it starts with Home Run Derby participant Matt Olson at first base. He leads the club in longballs with 23, and in OPS at .955.

Six other A’s have hit at least 10 homers this season – including reclamation project Jed Lowrie, and Gold Glove third baseman Matt Chapman.

Oakland controls its own destiny

The A’s will play six of their final nine games against the Astros, meaning they won’t have to do much scoreboard watching late in the year.

Oakland is just 4-9 against Houston thus far in 2021, but four straight losses came in the season’s opening series. The A’s have since dug out of that 0-6 hole they built for themselves early on.

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