National League Preview 2011: Phillies, Brewers, Giants Divisional Favorites

Arguably, the National League has more hype than the American League entering 2011 MLB betting. After all, the Senior Circuit boasts the defending World Series champion in the Giants, baseball’s answer to the Miami Heat in the Phillies and hot sleeper teams like the Brewers and Braves. Here’s a sports betting blog breakdown of the NL.

National League East odds

Philadelphia Phillies: -325

Atlanta Braves: +375

Florida Marlins: +900

New York Mets: +1600

Washington Nationals: +3000

No team is a bigger sportsbook favorite to win its own division than the Philadelphia Phillies – which is pretty amazing considering they share the NL East with another serious World Series contender, the Braves.

But that’s how excited people are about the Phillies this season. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels could be the greatest pitching quartet ever to grace one team. They give the Maddux/Smoltz/Glavine/Avery 1993 Braves a serious run. Still, the Phillies aren’t a slam dunk. Chase Utley’s knee is a concern and Atlanta is a legit threat. The Braves have a budding ace in Tommy Hanson, a future superstar in Jason Heyward and an improved offense thanks to the Dan Uggla trade. They’ll stay in the hunt.

The Marlins have solid pitching but their offense isn’t up to snuff. The Mets are loaded with injury risks – Jason Bay is already hurt again – and have a weak rotation. The Nationals aren’t worth considering until Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper are in their Opening Day lineup.

The Phillies will have to work for it but they may get 75-plus wins from their top four starters alone. They have to take the East.

Free pick: Phillies -325

National League Central odds

Milwaukee Brewers: +190

Cincinnati Reds: +200

St. Louis Cardinals: +300

Chicago Cubs: +450

Houston Astros: +2500

Pittsburgh Pirates: +4000

The Milwaukee Brewers’ hype train has zoomed them to the top of the divisional odds and I think the buzz in the sports betting community is justified. This team already had a potent offense; Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder are the studs and they have plenty of support from guys like Hart, Weeks and McGehee. But now the plot thickens for Milwaukee with Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum joining Yovani Gallardo in a revamped pitching rotation.

The defending NL Central champs, the Reds, will challenge again. Joey Votto is as good as any hitter on the planet and other young guns like Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce help pace a Cincinnati team that is potent offensively and also outstanding defensively. But will the Reds’ pitching hold them back?

Even though Albert Pujols has something to prove in his walk year, I don’t think he can carry St. Louis to the playoffs without Adam Wainwright, who underwent Tommy John surgery this offseason. The Cubs have some talent but also too many aging, slump-prone hitters. The odds for Houston and Pittsburgh are generous; neither of those teams has a chance. It’s worth noting that the Pirates could field an above-average offense this season.

With big power, a solid rotation and Prince Fielder playing for a new contract, the stars have aligned for Milwaukee this season.

Free pick: Brewers +190

National League West odds

San Francisco Giants: +130

Colorado Rockies: +185

Los Angeles Dodgers: +300

San Diego Padres: +1100

Arizona Diamondbacks: +1800

The National League West seems to be hotly contested every year but the gaps between teams seem to be widening. The Giants are still probably the class of the division thanks to their outstanding pitching. They’ll need Buster Posey to avoid the sophomore slump and Pablo Sandoval to recapture his 2009 form if they want to contend for the World Series crown again, though.

It looks like Colorado is the only team with a shot to unseat San Francisco. The Rockies have some amazing talents, like MVP candidates Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzales and Cy Young contender Ubaldo Jimenez. But do they have the depth? Up-and-comers like Dexter Fowler, Ian Stewart and Jorge De La Rosa have to step up.

The Dodgers, like Mets, look like high-profile frauds to me. Good pitching but I hate their offense. Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier can’t do it all on their own. The Padres were a total fluke last year and lost Adrian Gonzalez. Gulp. The Diamondbacks have a few good young players but are in rebuild mode. The division looks like San Francisco’s for the taking again.

Free pick: Giants +130

Wild Card pick: Atlanta Braves

National League Pennant pick: Philadelphia Phillies

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