Instead of just backing the favored team to win the National League pennant, this handicapper sheds light on other valuable contenders. You may be surprised, but the Pirates have the best odds in my opinion.
MLB Futures Odds to Win National League
Arguably right now the American League is more open than the National League in the run to the World Series, but there is some good value on three teams that can make a serious run for the pennant.
First, I want to discuss three teams that with a combination of value and how I think they will project are off this list. The Cubs (+1527 from BookMaker), I really like Joe Maddon but they are not going to win the central division or grab a wild-card spot, period. The Mets (+1200), have absolutely one of the best starting pitching staffs in the major leagues, but they are offensively inept on the road and have the only negative run differential for teams with a winning record in the National League. Philadelphia (just kidding), Washington, 10th in the league in runs scored per game, led in every major category offensively by one guy, Harper, and pitching Scherzer, they are a pretty popular pick at this time at +325, and I do like them just not the number when compared to the Dodgers and the Cardinals.
Case for the Dodgers
At about +350 this is a decent amount of value on Los Angeles, but just like last year they have all the pieces (and the bitter taste in their mouth) to get over the hump. They have a +62 run differential and have some really nice guys on offense like probable Hall of Famer Adrian Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick, and newcomer All Star Joc Pederson. They also have a veteran who's been there in Jimmy Rollins. Probably the scariest thing I can say about the Dodgers is that Clayton Kershaw is their second best pitcher. Their relief pitching is decent and they have a nice closer in Jansen. Honestly they are overdue to make a strong playoff push. Although the number is a little bit low for my taste this team has all the makeup of the World Series champion, maybe not the best as value goes but out of the low MLB odds teams they are my favorite.
Case for the Giants
If I'm going to mention the Dodgers then I have to mention the Giants at +800. They are in striking distance and now have Matt Cain back in the starting rotation along with Jake Peavy. I am pretty good friends with some people in the Giants organization and they are the best scouts in the business. Before their last three World Series championships against the Rangers, Tigers, and Royals they had every tendency of every hitter down pat. I think as far as bang for your buck, this is a MLB pick on a team that is proven in the past it knows not only how to get in the race but win it. They have solid hitting throughout the lineup anchored by Buster Posey and Joe Panik, but as mentioned more importantly with the starting pitchers of Bumgarner, Cain, and newcomer Heston they have all the pieces necessary to win the National League pennant. If they can pick up either one marquee starter, or a good reliever we might have to start talking about them as a dynasty.
Case for the Pirates
Out of every team the Pirates have the best odds in my opinion as far as winning the National League pennant at +700. That is great value on a team with the second best record in the National League and a +63 run differential. If they can't overtake the Cardinals in the second half of the season they are the odds on favorite to win the wild-card and could be a very dangerous team to face if that happens. They are really similar and like the Cardinals they're doing it on the mound more so than at the plate. The Cards are the main problem for the Pirates and seem to be just one step behind them in most every category. The Pirates rank second behind the Cardinals in the overall ERA, starters ERA, and reliever ERA. Statistically they're a little better on the offensive end than the Cardinals, not by much, but they're not as good of a defensive team and rank 13th in the National League in errors. What I really like about them though of course is their starting pitching of Burnett, Cole, and Liriano. At a value of +700 this a really good team to take, who like the Dodgers, are due to clear that final hurdle.
*** MLB Betting Odds were gathered from several different sports book and sometimes combined as an average ***