We can cancel the season, right? The Los Angeles Dodgers got Mookie Betts and the best team in the National League from last season is now even better. There is no point in playing out the rest of this whole charade. Ah, but remember what happened on Washington’s path to the World Series? The Nationals won Game 5 on the road at Dodger Stadium and used that as a springboard to win the Fall Classic. Furthermore, the Nationals did so as a Wild Card team. If you ever need a reminder of how crazy the MLB Playoffs, aka the Tournament of Variance, can be, think back to that one. And countless other examples. Like the AL Pennant chase, it would be nice to see some new blood in the mix in the Senior Circuit. We could get it, to be totally honest. This author is actually high on the Cincinnati Reds as one example. The New York Mets are another example of a team that could make an appearance. Some would even suggest the San Diego Padres as a Wild Card contender. Over the last three years, the Dodgers, Cardinals, Braves, Brewers, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Nationals, and Rockies have made the playoffs. In the AL, only seven different teams have qualified for the postseason. Eight teams have made it in the NL, so there has been a little more parity, at least in terms of qualifiers. It is entirely possible that we add a new one or two to the list for this season. That being said, only four teams across the league have made the World Series the last three seasons – the Nationals, Astros, Dodgers, and Red Sox. The Dodgers certainly look poised to have a third bite at the apple in the World Series again this season, but we all thought that last season, too. The Braves have won back-to-back NL East titles. The Dodgers have won seven NL West titles in a row. The Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals have taken turns in the NL Central. Two of the division races look pretty wide open, while the third is already decided. Here are the NL Pennant futures odds per 5Dimes Sportsbook as of February 20, 2020:
Los Angeles Dodgers +190
Atlanta Braves +600
St. Louis Cardinals +700
Washington Nationals +700
New York Mets +900
Philadelphia Phillies +1300
Cincinnati Reds +1300
Chicago Cubs +1350
Milwaukee Brewers +1600
Arizona Diamondbacks +2000
San Diego Padres +2350
San Francisco Giants +7000
Colorado Rockies +9000
Pittsburgh Pirates +15000
Miami Marlins +35000
It kind of astounds me that the Yankees have lower odds in the AL than the Dodgers do in the NL at 5Dimes. First of all, the Dodgers won their division by 21 games last season and are a virtual lock to do so again and avoid the Wild Card Game. It is nowhere near as hard to see a path to Tampa Bay winning the East in the Junior Circuit as it would be to see the Diamondbacks or Padres doing so. Also, the Yankees would have to likely face the Astros in the ALCS and the Astros are a better team than any non-Dodgers team in the NL. This seems like a pricing error. I wouldn’t take the Dodgers at +190 because anything can happen in the playoffs, but there is no way that the Dodgers should have longer odds than the Yankees. In any event, we see the byproduct of not having a real clear second team like we have in the AL with the Astros. Prices are depressed on teams like Washington, St. Louis, and the Mets. There are two very obvious picks in the NL if you are so inclined. They both come from the Central Division. The Chicago Cubs are clearly mispriced at +1350. They were 82-68 through 150 games last season and were right there with the Cardinals before going 2-10 over the final 12 games. The Cardinals are going to take a step back this season and I do not really see a path for them to repeat in the NL Central. If the Cubs can win the division and avoid the Wild Card Game, that would be a really nice advantage. They would play the winner of the NL East in all likelihood and none of the top three teams in that division would be a massive favorite over the Cubs. The second is the Reds at +1300. In my mind, either the Cubs or the Reds win the NL Central more often than anybody else. That would mean a chance to get right into the NLDS as opposed to the Wild Card Game. It is entirely possible that both of these teams make it in to be totally honest. In the NL East, any one of the Braves, Nationals, or Mets could win the division and I wouldn’t be shocked. If the Cardinals or the Brewers win the NL Central, I will be surprised. Therefore, the Cubs and the Reds carry the most value to me in the NL Pennant futures market.