The top contender for the 2015 MLB season in the eyes of oddsmakers? That would be the Washington Nationals. Check out our futures betting odds preview inside.
The Nationals are tops on the MLB betting odds market futures list for the 2015 season, priced out at right around +600 to win the World Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers (+650) are the only team that's really all that close to the overall favorites.
After an outstanding regular season, which saw them go 96-66 and finish with the best record in the entire National League, expectations were sky high for the Nationals heading into the postseason.
However, Washington was left disappointed after an early exit at the hands of the San Francisco Giants, who would go on to win the World Series over the Kansas City Royals. The Nationals lost 3-1 in the NLDS despite having home-field advantage, with two home losses in the first two games all but ending Washington's chances of advancing.
Despite the early exit, there were still a ton of positives to come from the Nationals' season. Anthony Rendon, Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond all hit at least 20 homers, while Denard Span and Jayson Werth hitting .302 and .292 respectively in the 2014 season.
However, it was Washington's stellar rotation which was the catalyst for their terrific season. Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and Tanner Roark all had great seasons, and Gio Gonzalez was no slouch either. Drew Storen took over for Rafael Soriano as the team's closer in the middle of the year and was sensational - he finished with a 1.12 ERA and 0.98 WHIP.
There haven't been a ton of roster changes or anything in the nation's capital, but the one big move that Washington did make could end up having huge implications. Whenever you add a piece like Max Scherzer, you have to be feeling very good about your chances, especially when you already had the strongest rotation in all of baseball.
If you didn't know, Scherzer is one of the most dominant righties out there. Scherzer went 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA and 1.18 WHIP for the Tigers last season, while racking up 252 strikeouts in 220 and 1/3 innings of work. One of the most feared pitchers in the majors, Scherzer will step right into Washington's rotation alongside the likes of Strasburg, Zimmermann, Fister and Gonzalez. You know you've got quite the pitching staff when Roark, who who had a 2.85 ERA in 2014, is left on the outside looking in as the team's sixth man in the rotation. Quite the embarrassment of riches there.
Hitting wise, the Nationals will trot out essentially the same lineup that they featured last season. They ranked near the top 10 in most of the major offensive categories last season and instead used their stellar pitching to take them far. We should see something similar again this season, though having a healthy Bryce Harper could be a major factor come the 2015 season.
How can we not like Washington's chances this coming season?
After tasting true heartbreak last year, the Nationals have beefed up even more and now have an even scarier rotation. Pitching wins championships (let's not forget what Madison Bumgarner did for San Francisco en route to a World Series) and Washington easily has the best rotation of any team in the major leagues.
What the Nationals experienced last season should only prepare them even more for another run in 2015. We like Washington's chances of reaching the World Series behind that scary good rotation and wouldn't hesitate at a juicy +600 price on the MLB odds board.
When considering your MLB futures picks, you'd be hard pressed not to consider the Nationals, and oddsmakers agree.