Time to get excited—MLB Opening Day is officially one week away! On this final day of March, you are still left with seven whole days to conduct your baseball research and tie up any loose ends: Especially those long-running futures.
For those looking to make a play on the National League pennant winner, WynnBET currently has prices for all 15 teams, and a few have already caught my attention. Let’s remember: Three different teams have cashed this market in the last three seasons (and they all went on to win the World Series). Further out, we have seen seven different N.L. winners since 2013.
Basically, it can be quite tricky to predict in April who hoists the Warren C. Giles trophy in October. With a traditional 162-game season ahead of us all, the flag is back up for grabs. At +600, can Atlanta repeat and head back to the Fall Classic? Before diving into the favorite pick, our best bet and a sleeper to consider, here is our entire National League field:
All lines as of March 31st, 2022
Los Angeles (N) +250
New York (N) +500
San Diego +700
San Francisco +1200
St. Louis +1200
Chicago (N) +5000
The Favorite: Los Angeles Dodgers +250
The almighty-Dodgers are the only team to have won the N.L. multiple times in the last five years (2020, 2018 and 2017). When you look at the names on their roster, it isn’t exactly a head-scratcher as to why. The Boys in Blue have a ridiculously potent lineup, and despite losing SS Corey Seager, they added former MVP Freddie Freeman (luring him away from the team that kept the Dodgers out of their fourth World Series in half-a-decade). Living-legend Clayton Kershaw will also be back for L.A., as he will do well alongside their other big arms (Buehler, Urias).
This team is largely similar to last year’s squad that won 106 games (that somehow still lost the division to the Giants by a game). Departures from fan-favorite relievers Jensen and Kelly will need to be addressed, but the Dodgers farm well and are never coy about throwing money around (although, the Mets actually surpassed L.A. for the highest payroll in 2022).
To help their cause, it appears that Max Muncy will be available for Opening Day next week, but likely only in an offensive role. With Gavin Lux and Freddie Freeman now on the right side of the infield for L.A., there is absolutely no reason to rush Muncy back to a defensive spot—that torn UCL injury last October looked wicked in real time. Fortunately for the Hollywood Swingers, the National League will use the DH this season, keeping all big bats in the lineup. What a time to be alive …
At +250, the Dodgers are a little too chalky for me (for comparison, the Astros are the favorite to win the A.L. pennant at +525), but can’t knock anyone making a play here. With several players still playing at an MVP-level, this team is likely to casually go weeks without losing. Of course, if Cody Bellinger manages to crawl out of his longer-than-a-season slump, then the Senior Circuit may be all but wrapped-up. For history’s sake, the Dodgers’ 24 National League pennants are the most (the rival-Giants are one behind with 23). If you are married to the Dodgers in this market, I’d recommend taking a chance and waiting for the price to inflate as the season progresses.
Best Bet: New York Mets +500
Well, the New York Metropolitans have not raised an N.L. pennant since the famed-Subway Series of 2000 (near the end of the Bill Clinton-administration), but it is clear that the boys from Queens are now all-in. As mentioned, they have surpassed Los Angeles for baseball’s highest payroll.
This current version of the Mets finds their backbone on the mound, eager to unleash the two-headed monster that is Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer. Despite this being the tandem’s first season together, they already have potential to be the most dominant pitching duo EVER. With five combined Cy Young awards, I said what I said …
Before the regular season has started, you can still head to WynnBET and get the Mets to win the National League at +500. Admittedly, they play in a tougher division (Philadelphia and the reigning-champs from Atlanta will both be legit), but with this year’s expanded postseason field, I am confident that New York can either win the N.L. East or nab one of the three Wild Card spots.
Make no mistake though, these Mets can really swing-it. 1B Pete Alonso is likely the National League’s best, young power hitter. In only 370 major league games, he already has clobbered 106 balls over the fence (notably setting the MLB rookie record with 53 home runs). SS Francisco Lindor is one of the game’s most dynamic stars when healthy. Utility-man Jeff McNeil is a fantastic table-setter, and has hit over .310 in three of his four seasons at the big league level. Of course, there is room for improvement; Last year, the Mets ranked in the bottom half of the N.L. in most offensive metrics. If they can stay healthy and routinely put out a lineup with some continuity, I love the Mets to do damage in the postseason behind both their aces. Without any crucial injuries, I see New York heading to their second World Series of the millennium for a current price of +500.
Sleeper: San Francisco Giants +1200
The Boys from the Bay wound up being the shocker of 2021. Behind a league-leading 107 wins and 241 home runs, San Francisco played their way to their first division title since 2012 (snapping the Dodgers streak of eight-straight N.L. West crowns). Sure, future HOFer Buster Posey will no longer be behind the dish for the Giants, but with skipper Gabe Kapler coming-off a Manager of the Year award, the franchise still feels to be heading in the right direction.
I don’t think anyone is banking on San Francisco winning a triple-digit amount of games again this season, but the Giants are undoubtedly one of the best run organizations in baseball. To off-set the departure of RHP Kevin Gausman, San Francisco has signed LHP Carlos Rodon (formerly of the Chi-Sox) to back up their ace, Logan Webb. Additionally, S.F. has added a left-handed bat in Joc Pederson—the Bay Area native has pop and an athletic skill-set in the outfield (at Palo Alto High School, Pederson was WR1 over his then-teammate and future NFL All-Pro Davante Adams).
Pederson joins a lineup with a few other solid lefty bats: Brandon(s) Crawford, Belt and “Late Night” Lamonte Wade—expect the Giants to thrive against right-handed pitching. Unfortunately for San Francisco right now, Wade suffered a left knee injury in spring training that will keep him out for at least the next ten days, likely past Opening Day for some amount of time. Veteran 3B Evan Longoria is also starting the season on the shelf after undergoing surgery on Tuesday to repair a ligament on his throwing-hand index finger. Expect util. Wilmer Flores to eat up innings at the hot corner.
With rival-San Diego beginning their year without Tatis, Jr. for at least two months, this leaves open a golden opportunity for the Giants to secure one of the three National League Wild Card spots. As it is now, I like some combination of Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, Milwaukee, Los Angeles and these Giants to make up the N.L. postseason field. Of course, the Giants are regarded as a franchise that tends to elevate their play in October (check out their recent track record in playoff series and elimination games). If San Francisco gets into the tournament, they are likely to be a pesky out. At +1200, I see great value here on the Giants winning their 24th National League pennant. After all, it is an even year …