Earlier this week, we highlighted our favorite divisional values in the American League. This time, we're breaking down our top bets to win each National League division, starting with arguably the closest division race in the majors.
|New York Mets||-150|
In our preseason best bets, we put our money on the Mets at +150 to win the division behind Jacob deGrom and a loaded lineup. The team's offense hasn't held up its end of the bargain while ranking 21st in OPS (.679), but New York still holds a 1.5-game lead atop the division.
Expect better days ahead, too. The advanced metrics paint a much rosier picture for the Mets' lineup, and their rotation should eventually welcome Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard to an overall staff that already ranks second in fWAR (6.5) and ERA (2.89).
If you didn't buy the Mets before the season, don't kick yourself now. Through 31 games, this team has proven it can win without competent hitting, making it all the more attractive to bet before New York's offense heats up.
Pick: Mets -150
|St. Louis Cardinals||+120|
Another one of our favorite preseason bets was the Brewers taking this division at +350 odds. The early returns have been encouraging, as Milwaukee is three games back of the NL Central lead despite injuries to its two best players.
Corbin Burnes has been arguably the most effective pitcher in the majors when healthy, with a jaw-dropping 58:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and a sterling 1.57 ERA. He pairs well with teammate Brandon Woodruff (1.64 ERA) to form the NL's best one-two pitching punch.
The Brewers' lineup ranks among the bottom five, and Christian Yelich's injury woes are a key reason why. But he's batting .353 when healthy, so it's only a matter of time before this team puts it all together.
Pick: Brewers (Even)
|Los Angeles Dodgers||-400|
|San Diego Padres||+250|
|San Francisco Giants||+1600|
Oddsmakers have priced this division race as the least competitive in MLB. We didn't like the Dodgers' preseason price of -300 and instead opted for the Padres at +200. So you can imagine how we feel as San Diego sits a half-game ahead of its division rival with a 4-3 record in the head-to-head series.
Key contributors for both teams have suffered injuries, but each club is deep enough to withstand those issues. Which squad will prove more durable over the long haul?
The Padres face more lingering questions, but they're also available at a much more palatable price. We liked them before, and we love them now.
Pick: Padres +250
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.