The Cubs and Nationals are favored to reach the World Series over the Mets, the reigning National League champions. Can another team contend and upset the MLB odds?
The Cubs have an incredible mix of talented young players and experienced veterans. Most of the core of their roster will return and they improved the team with the additions of starting pitcher John Lackey, second baseman Ben Zobrist, who just won a World Series with the Royals, and outfielder Jason Heyward.
The pieces are in place for the Cubs to finally break their "curse" and win a World Series title. The Cubs' offense is scary, their defense is solid, they have a deep starting rotation and a strong bench. All signs point to 2016 being their year and MLB odds makers have noticed. Marathon has the Cubs at +350 to win the National League.
The Nationals had high expectations ahead of last season but they came up short. This year, the team is once again expected to contend for the NL East and reach the postseason. Having the reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper and former AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer on their roster will help.
Jordan Zimmermann signed with the Tigers but the rest of the starting rotation will return and the Nationals recently added former Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy and traded for leadoff hitter Ben Revere. Murphy and Revere will add speed and timely hitting to the starting lineup and new manager Dusty Baker's experience can make a difference for this team. Washington is at +450 to represent the National League in the 2016 World Series.
New York Mets
After losing the 2015 World Series against the Royals, anything other than the National League pennant is unacceptable for the Mets. After all, the starting rotation of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Bartolo Colon is one of the best in baseball. And keep in mind that Zack Wheeler is targeting a mid-season return from Tommy John surgery.
However, can the Mets return to the World Series with their current offense? Yoenis Cespedes remains a free agent and the Mets already lost Daniel Murphy, which means that they have to make some moves to improve their lineup or trust that starting pitching is all they need to contend. The Mets are currently at +600 to return to the World Series.
Potential Dark Horse Teams
The Dodgers (+650), Cardinals (+650) and Giants (+750) can't be overlooked when placing your MLB picks to reach the 2016 World Series.
The Dodgers lost Zack Greinke to the Diamondbacks but they still have Clayton Kershaw and the signings of Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda and the return of Hyun-jin Ryu make their starting rotation even stronger and their offense will get the job done with Adrian Gonzalez, Joc Pederson, Justin Turner, Yasmani Grandal and Yasiel Puig in the lineup.
Free agents keep leaving the Cardinals every offseason but this is a well-managed team that always finds a way to stay in the mix for the NL Central title and make deep postseason runs. With a healthy Adam Wainwright and promising young players like Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty joining the core of Yadier Molina, Kolten Wong, Jhonny Peralta and Matt Carpenter, St. Louis will be tough to beat.
The Giants will have an incredible one-two pitching punch with Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto to go along with Jeff Samardzija and Jake Peavy, which could make a difference in the postseason. San Francisco also signed Denard Span to improve a lineup that includes Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik and Matt Duffy. This is a team that knows how to win, so don't underestimate them.
Chicago Cubs +500
San Francisco Giants +500
New York Mets +1400
Washington Nationals +1400
Los Angeles Dodgers +1600
St. Louis Cardinals +1800
Pittsburgh Pirates +2000
Arizona Diamondbacks +2000
Miami Marlins +7500
Milwaukee Brewers +10000
Cincinnati Reds +10000
San Diego Padres +10000
Atlanta Braves +10000
Philadelphia Phillies +10000
Colorado Rockies +15000