Last year, the Toronto Blue Jays won 91 games, but still failed to make the playoffs out of the loaded AL East. This year, they may just be the team to beat for the American League pennant.

American League betting odds
The Toronto Blue Jays are entering the 2022 season as the co-favorites to win the American League pennant. (Image: Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA Today Sports)

The Blue Jays and the Houston Astros share the role of co-favorites to win the American League title this year, with DraftKings Sportsbook giving both clubs +450 odds of reaching the World Series.

Blue Jays favored in crowded AL East race

Of the two, the Astros enjoy the clearer path to the playoffs. Houston is the clear favorite in the relatively weak AL West, while Toronto will be mired in a four-team race for the AL East title.

But that will matter less in 2022 thanks to the expanded playoff format. It’s very possible that the East will send four teams to the American League playoffs, with Toronto joined by the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays. All four have a chance to win the division and enjoy excellent chances of reaching the postseason.

American League Odds – Division Winner (via DraftKings Sportsbook)
AL East AL Central AL West
Toronto: +175 Chicago: -195 Houston: -175
New York: +195 Minnesota: +500 Los Angeles: +400
Tampa Bay: +320 Detroit: +750 Seattle: +450
Boston: +550 Cleveland: +950 Texas: +1800
Baltimore: +15000 Kansas City: +1500 Oakland: +3000

Despite that competition, FanGraphs sees the Blue Jays as the most likely American League team to make the playoffs (89.2%) and win the World Series (12.1%). For those looking for a likely winner to bet on, Toronto looks like the best choice. The Blue Jays are also a strong pick to win the AL East at +175.

Behind the top two, the Yankees (+475) remain a perennial contender despite doing little in the offseason. Still, New York should push Toronto for the AL East title, and it’s hard to imagine them missing the postseason.

The Chicago White Sox (+500) might not be as far ahead of their AL Central competition as last year’s standings suggest. The Minnesota Twins have improved with the addition of Carlos Correa, Sonny Gray, and Gary Sanchez, while the White Sox mostly stood pat. Bettors should give the Twins a look at +500 to win the division and +2500 to win the American League crown.

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Astros look to defend American League title

In the AL West, Houston is a -175 favorite to win the division, and it’s hard to pick against the defending American League champions in that market. Both the Los Angeles Angels and the Seattle Mariners could contend for wild card berths in the postseason.

In particular, the Angels added Noah Syndergaard, Aaron Loup, and Ryan Tepera to bolster their pitching staff and support their two superstars, Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. Still, if there’s any value in backing Los Angeles to win the American League at +1600, it’s very thin.

American League Odds – Pennant Winner
Toronto Blue Jays: +450 Houston Astros: +450
New York Yankees: +475 Chicago White Sox: +500
Tampa Bay Rays: +750 Boston Red Sox: +1100
Los Angeles Angels: +1600 Seattle Mariners: +1800
Minnesota Twins: +2500 Detroit Tigers: +2800
Texas Rangers: +5000 Cleveland Guardians: +5500
Kansas City Royals: +7000 Oakland Athletics: +9000
Baltimore Orioles: +20000

Given the strength of the top handful of teams, it’s hard to recommend a true long shot to win the American League pennant in 2022. If you want to go out on a limb, my pick is the Guardians at +5500.

It would have been nice if Cleveland did something to upgrade its team, as any significant move would have put them on the radar. But if the Guardians overperform slightly, they could find themselves as buyers at the trade deadline – at which point, that +5500 price will feel like a real bargain.