MLB Betting Odds: Everyone But Cubs A Dark Horse In NL Central

Willie Bee

Monday, March 21, 2016 6:54 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 21, 2016 6:54 PM UTC

Spring training is finally getting interesting as we see how early rosters will shake out, making now the best time to get down on dark horses on the MLB futures odds.

This year, the first really big day of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament created something of a perfect storm for sports bars. Me? I was drinking something sophisticated, a Bloody Mary with a strip of bacon in it at my favorite local sports bar, tip-offs in the time zone coming before the noon whistle. And, yes, I followed that up with an IPA and some spicy wings. Like I said, sophisticated. Part of my mind is always on baseball, and that day was also a benchmark date for me to wrap up MLB odds betting. The 30 teams have already thinned rosters a little, and right now is when you're most likely to get the best bang for your buck.


Everyone But Cubs A Dark Horse In NL Central
Which brings us to the best dark horse picks going, and our usual disclaimer that the best value is always the eventual winning pick. Outside of a couple of domestic violence stories, the Chicago Cubs probably got the most air time during the winter, certainly more than any other team received. They are a public team even in lean years, and when you're as loaded with talent as the Cubs are entering 2016, they're over the top this time. A quick check of MLB odds to win the NL Central has Chicago at -200, making the North Side 9 the chalkiest of division winners.

That almost makes any other team in the division a dark horse by default. Milwaukee (50/1) and Cincinnati (75/1) are the darkest of dark horses, with St. Louis +200 and Pittsburgh +250. Neither the Cardinals nor the Pirates are offering much in return, and that tells us right off the bat they are in contention for the playoffs as at least a wild card, making either a decent play to win the National League, both at +650.

Contrast that with the AL West where four teams are bunched together on the MLB betting board between about even-money and 7/2 to win the division. Houston is listed first, a bit better than a level wager, followed by Texas (+250), Seattle (+300) and Los Angeles (+350) glancing at the current numbers to be found at The Greek. I may be rooting for the Astros, but I'm betting Rangers here and as an AL Pennant dark horse (+750) with my free MLB picks.


Can Snakes Bite Both Dodgers, Giants In NL West?
Yes, I know it's an even-numbered year which means it's time for the San Francisco Giants to win another World Series. Why, if they had just made the playoffs once or twice after the 2010, 2012 and 2014 Fall Classics, the Giants would be a modern-day juggernaut.

At +115 to win the NL West, San Francisco is just behind archrival Los Angeles (+105) in the division, so the baseball odds agree it's their time again. I can see it coming down to their final three games on the shores of McCovey Cove to see who wins it.  Yet, I'm still drawn to giving a little bit of my money up on Arizona. The Diamondbacks are +400 in this division, and if manager Chip Hale can catch some rookie managerial luck in his bullpen, they could upset the NL West applecart.

I really want to play the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East at +600, it has something to do with a man-crush on Buck Showalter. Exactly why that bromance exists isn't important now, and I may still play the O's in the next week or so. But I really like the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central.  Like Baltimore in the AL East, the Pale Hose are fourth on the MLB futures odds list behind Kansas City (+175), Cleveland (+200) and Detroit (+300) and ahead of Minnesota (+800). It's a packed division, and I like the top of Chicago's rotation with Chris Sale while Carlos Rodon enjoys a breakout year.


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