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MLB division odds: Rangers, Reds worth backing

Dylan Buell / Getty Images Sport / Getty

We are about 90 games into the 2023 MLB campaign, and the races are really starting to heat up.

There are some battles taking place that will be extremely fun to follow when the All-Star break concludes.

Division battles in the AL West and NL Central carry the most intrigue, with the Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds being pushed each and every day by the Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers, respectively.

How will those divisions play out? Where does the value lie? Let's take a closer look.

AL West

Team Odds
Houston Astros +100
Texas Rangers +110
Seattle Mariners +1400
LA Angels +2500
Oakland Athletics +50000

The Astros sit a pair of games behind the Rangers in the standings but have overtaken them as the slight favorite to claim the AL West crown. I understand the shift on the surface - the Rangers are 8-12 in their last 20 games and lost Jacob deGrom for the season - but I still don't agree with it.

Texas is arguably the best offensive team in the league, having scored 5.8 runs per game. That's more than anybody - even the Braves! Its run differential of +1.6 per contest is very encouraging and suggests the team's record is worse than deserved.

The Rangers own a Pythagorean record of 59-32 while sitting 52-39 in reality. Their -7 differential upon expectation is the lowest in the league, indicating they are unlucky not to be in a better position.

Houston owns a 50-41 record, which is directly in line with what its Pythagorean record indicates is fair (51-40). The Astros' offense has been inconsistent at times, while Cristian Javier regressing has taken a bite out of their rotation.

The Astros own a 19-26 record against teams over .500 (the Rangers are 24-22) and strike me as a team that could slow down when the schedule stiffens in late July.

Their life is pretty easy coming out of the break. July 24th is when the tables turn as they begin a stretch of five consecutive series against teams at or above .500, including three-game sets with the Rays, Orioles, and Rangers.

Look for the Rangers' high-powered offense to sustain them down the stretch and keep that division lead in tact.

NL Central

Team Odds
Milwaukee Brewers -105
Cincinnati Reds +135
Chicago Cubs +800
St. Louis Cardinals +2000
Pittsburgh Pirates +5000

Many people - myself included - jumped on Reds futures shortly after Elly De La Cruz was recalled. If you're not already holding a healthy plus-money ticket to earn a playoff spot or win the division, I still see value in getting involved.

The Reds are legitimately playing as well as anybody in baseball right now, besides the Braves.

They own a 22-8 record over the past 30 games and have soared to the top of the NL Central standings.

De La Cruz's ridiculous offensive ability - be it at the dish or on the basepaths - has garnered a lot of the headlines, but there is a ton to like with this team right now. Matt McLain is hitting .300 while providing plus defense, and yet another rookie, Spencer Steer, is giving teams a lot of trouble with his power and ability to drive in runs.

There are plenty of talented veterans supporting those three kids - like Joey Votto, who is red hot - which gives this team a high floor and ceiling the rest of the way.

The Brewers rank 24th in Pythagorean win/loss (44-47) and their lack of firepower makes it very difficult for them to win games if their pitching doesn't hold up each and every night.

I think +135 is a very generous price for the Reds given they are already holding a division lead and are benefiting from a huge influx of talent.

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.

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