- Houston continues to recover from its sign-stealing scandal
- They’re still heavy favorites to win the American League West, and aren’t expected to be caught cheating again
- Can the Astros contend despite all the drama surrounding the organization?
The Houston Astros have gone through a whirlwind in the last couple of months and for good reason. Major League Baseball proved that the 2017 World Series Champions were guilty of sign-stealing, dating back to that season when they won it all. The league fined the Astros $5 million while taking away first and second-round draft picks for the 2020 and 2021 draft.
To no one’s surprise, the rest of the baseball world is livid over the scandal. The Dodgers could have very well been the World Champions in ’17 if it wasn’t for this situation, while other players and teams are utterly disgusted about Houston’s actions.
The Astros can still be a contender this year in the American League, but they’re going to deal with a lot of animosity for all 162 games. No one is ever going to forget that they cheated.
Now oddsmakers are asking whether Houston will try to attempt sign-stealing again in 2020 and whether they’ll be able to play through the noise and win the AL West for the fourth straight season.
Odds Astros Are Caught Stealing Signs in 2020 Season
|Outcome||Odds at MyBookie|
Odds taken Feb 18.
It’s a pretty safe bet that the Astros won’t try to steal signs again this season. With all the backlash from this scandal, Houston just wants to prove to everyone that they can still be a World Series contender despite the drama.
They have a new manager in Dusty Baker, who brings tons of big-league experience to the organization. Houston still has their core group of Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, George Springer, and Justin Verlander, who is their lone ace now after Gerrit Cole left for the Yankees in the offseason. (No offense, Zack Greinke.)
There is absolutely no chance they will even attempt to steal signs this year. This club has numerous players on its roster who are some of the brightest stars in the majors. They should be able to do more than enough damage without having to cheat.
Pick: No -5000
Astros Order of Finish in AL West
Odds Taken Feb 18
Houston has won the AL West for three straight seasons and there’s a very high chance they will win it again. When it comes to World Series Odds, the Stros have +700 odds to win it all, behind just the Dodgers and Yankees, who are at +350.
The only team in this division that is the slightest threat to the Astros is the Oakland Athletics. They’re a gritty bunch who have a very promising young core, especially on the mound with the likes of Jesus Luzardo, Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas, and AJ Puk. But not even Bob Melvin’s team can compete with the Stros for the American League West title.
Seattle, Texas, and the LA Angels have been disappointing ball clubs for numerous years now. But there could be some hope in Los Angeles, after signing Anthony Rendon to a long-term deal in the offseason, giving the Angels one of the best star duos in the league with Mike Trout and Rendon. But they still need more arms, so it could be a few years until they really make their mark in the division.
On the mound, the Astros are still very talented despite losing Cole. Verlander has been lights out since joining Houston a few seasons ago, while Jose Urquidy and Zack Greinke have provided stability and length in the rotation. Lance McCullers is ready to go after missing all of last season due to Tommy John surgery. He’s a hard-throwing righty with great control and an array of above-average offspeed stuff who should be a rock in the middle of Houston’s rotation.
The Astros lineup hit an MLB-best .274 as a team last season and they haven’t lost any key pieces. Houston also had seven players who went deep at least 20 times in 2019, led by Alex Bregman and George Springer, who hit 41 and 39 homers, respectively. Defensively, they committed just 71 errors, which was third-best in the bigs. Their infield is absolutely stacked with Bregman at the hot corner, sure-handed Correa at short, gold glove winner Altuve at second, and Yuli Gurriel at first base.
Houston Will Be a Serious Contender
Although they were found guilty of cheating by Major League Baseball, I do believe the Houston Astros will run away with this division in 2020 just like past years. Alex Bregman and co. should also still be a contender when it comes to winning a World Series title.
They were 100-percent wrong for the whole sign-stealing situation and the rest of the baseball community has all the right to be upset over it, however, the best way for Houston to silence everyone is by having an outstanding season in 2020.
Pick: 1st Place (-275)
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