With the calendar turning the page to May, the first full month of the 2021 MLB baseball season is officially in the books. It was a wild one at that. Baseball wasted no time in providing us with a little bit of everything. From a pair of no-hitters (three if Madison Bumgarner wasn’t subjected to the ridiculous 7-inning doubleheader deal) to young stars like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. mashing, there was certainly no lack of entertainment.
As bettors, we were able to learn quite a lot about several teams and players in April. Indeed, the current MLB standings offer up a few surprises, some positive and some negative, after one month of play. While we are certainly still a long way from the postseason, the MLB futures market remains open. Placing futures bets early in the season allows taking advantage of profitable odds while allowing hedging out of it over the long haul as well. The following article breaks down the current odds and best bets to win the NL Pennant. And check out our consensus odds for NL Championship winner.
Odds to Win the National League Pennant
Refer to the image below which contains the current odds at BetMGM to win the 2021 NL Pennant for all 15 teams.
After combining what we saw in the season’s first month along with preseason team handicaps, here is how I am currently approaching the odds to win the 2021 NL Pennant. Outlined below are both my best bet at the current prices as well as a long-shot play for those looking to take a swing for the fences.
Best Bet to Win the NL Pennant — Atlanta Braves (+800)
It’s pretty safe to say that April was far from ideal for the Braves. The month of May didn’t start any better in Atlanta this past weekend either, as the up-and-coming Toronto Blue Jays swept them. Nonetheless, hopping off the Braves in the NL Pennant futures market after a single disappointing month is foolish. The NL East Division is a crowded one this year. The Braves are joined by the New York Mets (+450), Philadelphia Phillies (+2200), and Washington Nationals (+3000) as legitimate postseason contenders. Heck, even the Miami Marlins (+5000) are a far better team than in recent seasons. That being said, the Braves have the talent to rise to the top when it’s all said and done.
When it comes to hitting, it’s hard to see any NL East team hanging with Atlanta over the course of a full season. The Braves lineup is loaded. Young sensation Ronald Acuna Jr. and reigning National League MVP Freddie Freeman are the anchors. That said, the talent runs far beyond that. Ozzie Albies, Marcell Ozuna, Dansby Swanson, and Austin Riley are all capable of providing a major impact at the plate on any given night. The team already traded for former top prospect Orlando Arcia to add infield depth as well. If he can resurrect a career that once had high expectations, the Braves lineup will be even more potent.
Where the questions arise for Brian Snitker’s ball club is on the mound. Staff ace Max Fried is currently on the IL, and newcomer Charlie Morton hasn’t exactly carried over the form he displayed for the Tampa Bay Rays in last year’s postseason. As such, the Braves starting rotation ranks 28th in combined ERA through the first month. Add in a bullpen that is simply average and the Braves will likely be in the trade market for pitching. That being said, executing on a deal or two will only solidify this team as legitimate contenders. At 8-1 odds, the Braves make a lot of sense as an NL Pennant best bet despite a sluggish start.
Longshot NL Pennant Pick — Cincinnati Reds (+2000)
At the time of writing, the Reds sit a game under .500 and in third place in the NL Central standings. Although their torrid start to the season has waned, Cincinnati is a team worth considering as an NL Pennant longshot. We can start with the simple fact that they play in the NL Central. The Milwaukee Brewers (+1200) are garnering the headlines following a surge to the top of the standings. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals (+1800) were the team many believed to be the division favorites coming into the year. That being said, they didn’t make any major strides in the offseason.
The Reds have been building up to contend for some time now. While they got a taste of playoff baseball in last year’s whacky expanded format, they completely forgot to bring their hitting shoes with them and were quickly ousted. Cincinnati seems to have found their bats and more in the offseason. Through April, Jesse Winker ranks for in the majors in batting average, while Nick Castellanos is tied for the league lead in home runs and third in total hits. Add in players like Joey Votto, Mike Moustakas, and Eugenio Suarez, who have proven capable, and this lineup packs a punch.
The pitching has gotten off to a less than ideal start for the Reds this season. That being said, a rotation lead by Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray is not one to be taken lightly. Positive regression is seemingly inevitable for both Cincinnati’s starting staff and bullpen based on how April went. In a wide-open division, considering the Reds at 20-1 to win the NL Pennant isn’t a bad play. Like any longshot futures ticket, opportunities to hedge will certainly arise. But should Cincinnati go on to earn a playoff spot, anything is possible.
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