Sportsbooks like 5Dimes have released their baseball futures and it is time to start thinking about the boys of summer despite the snow and cold many have been experiencing around the country.
The mission here is to provide an overview and once we start seeing how these teams look in spring training, the MLB odds will be adjusted accordingly. However, do not expect much movement on futures between now and the start of the season unless there is a calamity of injuries to a particular team, because the 162-game season has a lot of twists and turns.
The National League Favorites
MLB baseball handicappers and those placing sports picks on futures alike are solidly in agreement Washington (+315 odds to win NL) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (+380) are the two best teams in the senior circuit. Both enter 2015 after disappointing postseason setbacks, but the Nationals still had the best record in the NL (96-66) and the Dodgers were second just two games behind.
Washington added Max Scherzer to the top of its rotation and there is a good chance they will trade either Jordan Zimmermann or Stephen Strasburg, sometime between now and the August trade deadline unless an injury occurs to another starting pitcher.
Los Angeles will probably not score as many runs with Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez not in the lineup, but the offense and defense might have more balance and adding Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson to the rear of the rotation makes the Dodgers attractive for MLB picks.
These are also currently the top teams with the lowest World Series champion odds.
NL Contenders (Supposedly)
The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Dodgers in the postseason again, but were vanquished by the eventual champion Giants. The Redbirds are expected to return to the playoffs as NL Central champions and are the third choice at +670. St. Louis hopes Jason Heyward’s swing can be repaired and become the star he was forecasted to be in Atlanta to improve their offense.
Chicago Cubs fans are so starved for a winner, they will even bet on their team in the hopes they will be better. No question this will be the most talented Cubs team in years that will take the field, but to make them the fourth-best wager in the NL versus the betting odds at +1025, that is drinking too much Old Style beer unless everything literally fell into place.
Even the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants (+1100) are behind the Cubs, yet this is where they belong in terms of the overall picture. The starting pitching behind Madison Bumgarner is questionable and it’s an odd-numbered year and all three San Fran titles have come in even-numbered seasons since 2010.
San Diego has gone from almost unwatchable to entertaining with a flurry of offseason moves and is up to +1125. After eight seasons of missing the playoffs, first-year GM A.J. Preller made a dizzying amount of moves and the Padres could be supplant San Francisco as the second-best team in the NL West.
How the Rest Shake Out
Pittsburgh (+1600) has won 94 and 88 games the last two seasons, feasting on weaker teams and playing .500 against the rest of the National League. Little reason to believe this will not occur again.
The rest of the clubs in the NL appear to have more weaknesses than strengths and a couple might have more value as win total plays than long shots to win the pennant.
Next in line are the New York Mets (+1725), Atlanta (+1800) and Miami (+2000) with both Philadelphia and Colorado bringing up the rear at +7000 to be champs.