Oddsmakers have the Atlanta Braves, who have won the NL East by at least four games each of the past four seasons, as favorites to win the division again (+140 at DraftKings). But chances are they’ll face stiffer competition this season when the 2022 MLB season starts on April 7. The New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies should stick close to the Braves. The Miami Marlins probably, too.
Because of the extra wildcard in each league this season, futures bettors would be wise to take a closer look at teams they’d typically scoff at. Even before the additional wildcard was made available, there have been some memorable instances of monster preseason longshots cashing in — or giving those daredevil bettors a thrill ride deep into the season.
Last year, for instance, the San Francisco Giants were listed well behind the L.A. Dodgers and San Diego Padres at FanDuel, BetMGM, and Caesars Sportsbook. At Westgate SuperBook, the Giants had preseason odds as long as 150-1 to win the pennant and 300-1 for the World Series. San Francisco finished with the best record in baseball (107-55) before losing to the Dodgers in the NLDS.
Another extreme longshot came through in 2008 when the previously hapless Tampa Bay Rays, who had the worst record in baseball in 2007, were listed as 125-1 preseason choices to win the AL pennant. That’s exactly what they did. At 300-1 to win the World Series, they were even favored to beat Philadelphia but ultimately fell short.
With all this in mind, let’s take a stab at how the NL East will play out and which teams have a shot to cash in at a nice price. Here are the NL East futures odds from DraftKings as of Tuesday morning:
|Team||DraftKings Odds To Win NL East|
|New York Mets||+155|
NL East Not Known For Notching Many Wildcards
Unlike the AL East, which has had 25 wildcards in its history, the NL East has had only nine, the fewest among NL divisions. Last year, for instance, the NL East didn’t have any wildcards. Of course, when the four teams other than Atlanta were a cumulative 66 games under .500 that was to be expected.
One of those nine previous wildcards were the 2020 Marlins, who had the fifth-seeded WC in the ultra-expanded 2020 pandemic-shortened season. They had 500-1 pennant odds that spring and even won their first-round playoff matchup. They certainly wouldn’t have had those odds had sportsbooks known of the expanded postseason.
2022 NL East: Division Analysis
Even with Freddie Freeman (31 HRs, .300 BA) signing with the Dodgers, Atlanta will surely benefit from the return of outfielders Ronald Acuna Jr., who suffered an ACL tear last summer, and Marcell Ozuna, who was suspended for domestic violence.
The Braves also signed longtime L.A. reliever Kenley Jansen to boost the bullpen. But oddly, even before Acuna and Ozuna were gone, the Braves were playing losing baseball. They went bonkers late in the summer after making acquisitions in the middle of the season Let’s pass on the Braves.
The Mets, under new manager Buck Showalter, have the same pennant odds as Atlanta. The Mets are coming off a mega-meltdown, which saw them enter last August with a five-game lead in the division only to finish in third place.
High-priced shortstop Francisco Lindor, a former superstar with Cleveland, was more or less a dud in his first year in New York. Lindor hit just .230 and was criticized for not being a team leader.
A big boost, though, comes with the acquisition of right-hander Max Scherzer, one of the top pitchers in the game. On the other hand, the sensational Jacob deGrom is too injury prone to count on, and they’ll also miss Noah Syndergaard now that he’s with the Angels.
Philadelphia (+2500 pennant, DraftKings), which hasn’t made the playoffs since the last of their five straight division titles in 2011, got solid pitching from starter Zack Wheeler last year. Wheeler was second in NL Cy Young voting in 2021. But the Phillies’ bullpen again was a dumpster fire a year after having the worst ERA mark (7.06) since 1930.
Philadelphia does have MVP Bryce Harper, but he seems to have trouble hustling on the bases. Not to mention the Phillies have defensive holes all over the field, too.
How about Washington? The Nationals are 150-1 to win the pennant at DraftKings. After their trade-deadline sell-off last year, they aren’t going to be making noise any time soon.
The Winner Is …
The Miami Marlins, who are 80-1 for the pennant, have one of the best lefty pitchers in the business in All-Star Trevor Rogers.
Sandy Alcantra is also listed near the top of Miami’s pitching depth chart with Pablo Lopez also in the mix. Both pitchers are 26 years old and blossoming.
The Marlins also acquired last year’s World Series MVP, Jorge Soler, from Atlanta. Sure, Miami tied for the third worst batting average in baseball last year at .233, but Milwaukee had the same percentage and won the NL Central.