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Odds to Win the NL Central: Cards Favored In a Tight Division

NL Central Betting Odds

In what has become one of the most exciting divisions in MLB, the NL Central has a new team in the mix for the title in the Cincinnati Reds, a club that had been deemed irrelevant in recent history. That said, the Reds are still fourth on the oddsboard to win the division, albeit with comparably low odds in a wide-open NL Central that has the reigning champion St. Louis Cardinals as the preseason favorites at +205.

Online sportsbook Bovada has the Cardinals favored at +205 followed by the Chicago Cubs at +250, the Milwaukee Brewers at +260, the Reds at +300 and the Pittsburgh Pirates at +5500.

St. Louis Cardinals (+205)

If you read my NL Central preview last year and tailed my pick, you would have cashed in on the Cardinals at +215 (humble brag). This team is built to be a World Series contender with a reliable rotation and bullpen, as well as a solid 1-9 batting lineup. St. Louis had the fourth-best run differential in the NL last season en route to a 91-71 campaign that ended in a four-game sweep at the hands of the eventual World Series champion Washington Nationals in the NLCS.

The club did lose starting pitcher Michael Wacha, who had an off-year in 2019, and left-fielder Marcell Ozuna, who slugged 29 homers. Despite the losses, this team is dangerous and worthy of being the preseason favorite.

St. Louis Cardinals 2020 Futures Odds
NL Central OddsWorld Series OddsWin Total
+205+160088.5

Odds as of February 13 at Bovada

Chicago Cubs (+250)

A team I would personally avoid in 2020 is the Chicago Cubs, who finished third in the NL Central in 2019 with an 84-78 slate. The team is basically the same this season, just one year older. The rotation was rather inconsistent last year, with flashes of brilliance followed by dismal performances.

The bread and butter for this team is its batting lineup led by all-stars Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, but there could be a new name in the mix in second baseman Nico Hoerner, a 2018 first-round draft pick. This team will be competitive but I don’t include them at the same level as Milwaukee and St. Louis.

Chicago Cubs 2020 Futures Odds
NL Central OddsWorld Series OddsWin Total
+250+250086.5

Odds as of February 13 at Bovada

Milwaukee Brewers (+260)

The Brewers would be my value pick in the NL Central. This club was a wild-card team last year, falling 4-3 to the Nationals in the wild-card game – boy, did the Nats ever do a number on the NL Central. Milwaukee was able to make it to the playoffs after many, myself included, wrote the team off once 2018 MVP and 2019 runner-up Christian Yelich suffered a broken kneecap in early September that ended his season.

The team brought in some pitching depth in lefties Eric Lauer and Brett Anderson who will hold down the fort until the elite bullpen takes over. Assuming all is good with Yelich, this team is providing good value to win the NL Central.

Milwaukee Brewers 2020 Futures Odds
NL Central OddsWorld Series OddsWin Total
+260+250083.5

Odds as of February 13 at Bovada

Cincinnati Reds (+300)

The most improved award goes to the former laughingstock of the division, the Cincinnati Reds, who made wholesale changes to the rotation and the batting lineup. Starter Wade Miley was brought in to join Trevor Bauer, acquired late last season from Cleveland, while on the batting side, sluggers Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos were signed via free agency.

Additionally, there should be some excitement around former Japanese Baseball League all-star Shogo Akiyama, who has tremendous speed and developed power over the last few years and draws comparisons to New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner. Clearly this team will take a step forward from the 75-87 season they put together last year, but I think it’s a bit of a long shot to say the Reds will battle for the NL Central crown.

Cincinnati Reds 2020 Futures Odds
NL Central OddsWorld Series OddsWin Total
+300+330084.5

Odds as of February 13 at Bovada

Pittsburgh Pirates (+5500)

Sporting the worst record in the division last year and the fifth-worst record in baseball, the Pittsburgh Pirates face an uphill battle in 2020. The team essentially remains the same as last year’s with no major changes through the lineup.

The Pirates will hope SP Chris Archer can regain the form he had with Tampa Bay to help bolster the rotation and that 2014 second-rounder Mitch Keller develops into the pitcher they hoped he would be. If not, this team could have a worse record this year and will once again be a basement-dweller in the NL Central.

Pittsburgh Pirates 2020 Futures Odds
NL Central OddsWorld Series OddsWin Total
+5500+1500070.5

Odds as of February 13 at Bovada

Odds to win the 2020 National League Central
TeamOdds
St. Louis Cardinals+205
Chicago Cubs+250
Milwaukee Brewers+260
Cincinnati Reds+300
Pittsburgh Pirates+5500

Odds as of February 13 at Bovada