National League futures odds, picks: Dodgers, Braves heavy favorites for divisions, NL pennant

Just like last season, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves are heavy favorites to win their divisions and thus are the top choices to win the National League pennant in the 2024 Major League Baseball season.

But as recent history has shown, that in no way is a harbinger of coming success in the postseason.

Both teams just had back-to-back seasons of 100 or more wins yet puzzlingly have made quick playoff exits each time against wild-card teams. Last year it was 84-win Arizona that eventually prevailed in the NL Championship Series.

Here’s a look at how the NL divisions shape up for 2024, with the teams listed in order of predicted finish.

NL East odds

Here are the latest odds to win the National League East from the best U.S. online sportsbooks:

More: MLB Betting Sites & Apps | Latest MLB Betting Lines & Odds | What are futures odds?

NL East predicted finish

1. Atlanta Braves odds: To win NL East: | To win NL pennant: | To win World Series

2023: 104-58, first place in division

Atlanta, which had the best record in baseball in 2023, won the East title by 14 games. It was the Braves’ finest regular season the past 25 years.

Their team batting average of .276 was the highest by any squad in six seasons, and the Braves’ 307 homers tied the major-league record.

Individually, outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. became the founding member of the 40/70 club with 41 homers and 73 steals in his MVP season, first baseman Matt Olson was the majors’ runaway leader in homers with 54 and RBIs with 139, and on the mound, right-hander Spencer Strider was MLB’s sole 20-game winner, going 20-5.

But still, Atlanta’s title hopes inexplicably unraveled in the divisional round for the second straight season against the Phillies, losing in the divisional series 3-1 — just like the year before. 

So, what does the team need to get over the hump in the postseason? For starters, Acuna and Olson can’t combine to go 6-for-30 (.200) at the plate in the playoffs with no homers and no RBIs like they did last year. And that knee issue Acuna had in spring training better not crop up again.

But a key to the team’s title hopes this year likely hinges on whether standout LHP Max Fried can stay healthy a year after dealing with hamstring, forearm and blister issues.

2. Philadelphia Phillies odds: To win NL East: | To win NL pennant: | To win World Series

2023: 90-72, second place in division

The Phillies and their fans will forever be scarred by the team’s collapse in Games 6 and 7 of the NLCS at home against Arizona last year.

But otherwise, the Phillies had another successful midseason turnaround that helped propel them into the playoffs.

Two years ago they were 21-29 on May 30 before winning nine in a row to eventually finish 87-75. Last season was much the same. The Phillies were 25-32 on June 2 before another dash to the finish earned them the top wild card by six games.

Behind star pitchers Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, the Phils should avoid another slow start since two-time NL MVP Bryce Harper won’t be on the injured list to open the season.

And an even bigger reason the team is likely to have a strong start is its extremely favorable schedule throughout April into early May. In a 29-game stretch that begins Monday the Phillies don’t face any team that reached the postseason last year, with 16 straight outings against squads that ended up last in their division.

3. New York Mets odds: To win NL East: | To win NL pennant: | To win World Series

2023: 75-87, fourth place in division

No team in baseball last season saw its win total plummet as drastically from the previous season than the Mets, who only two years ago went 101-61 and finished in a virtual tie with the Braves for the division lead.

Early injury issues for high-priced veteran pitchers Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, a pair of three-time Cy Young winners, helped doom the squad last season to a fourth-place finish. Team management pretty much gave up on the season before the trade deadline and unloaded the two pitchers for prospects.

For now the Mets have bypassed paying top dollar for veteran superstars and are  focusing on building with what they already have, which is pretty good. Among others there’s Pete Alonso, who was second in the league with 46 homers last year and had 118 RBIs.

And although the starting pitching is nothing special, the team is sure to get a boost from the return of standout reliever Edwin Diaz, who missed last season with a torn patellar tendon.

4. Miami Marlins odds: To win NL East: | To win NL pennant: | To win World Series

2023: 84-78, third place in division

Miami didn’t send a good message to Marlins Nation, if there is such a thing, by letting its best slugger, Jorge Soler, loose in free agency. He had 36 homers, which were 17 more than anyone else.

That comes on top of the fact Miami will be playing this season without 2022 Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery.

5. Washington Nationals odds: To win NL East: | To win NL pennant: | To win World Series

2023: 71-91, last place in division

The Nationals showed a 16-game win improvement last over their 55-107 2022 season, but based on numbers on sportsbetting oddsboards, they are likely to take a step back this season with a consensus win expectancy of 66.5. 

But the team does have some newcomers who showed flashes of excellence last season — Lane Thomas, who hit 28 homers, and CJ Abrams, who had 54 steals.

More MLB futures betting: American League MVP odds | National League MVP odds | AL Cy Young odds | NL Cy Young odds | MLB strikeout leader odds | Home run leader odds | AL Rookie of the Year odds | AL futures odds, picks

NL Central odds

Here are the latest odds to win the National League Central from the best baseball betting sites:

More: Best Sportsbook Promotions & Sports Betting Bonuses in the U.S.

NL Central predicted finish

1. Chicago Cubs odds: To win NL Central: | To win NL pennant: | To win World Series

2023: 83-79, second place in division

The Cubs were well on their way to securing a playoff berth last year in early September, owning a four-game edge for a wild-card spot and standing only 1.5 games behind Milwaukee for the division lead.

But Chicago then lost 15 of its final 22 games and quickly faded away.

One of the key changes on the team is that ex-Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell has taken over as skipper of the Cubs. His eight years of experience as dugout boss with the Brewers, which included three division titles, should help settle the team.

Offensively, the Cubs have a well-balanced attack led by center fielder Cody Bellinger (26 homers, team-best .307 average). He was one of five Cubs with 20-plus home runs.

At the top of the pitching rotation is Justin Steele, who had a breakout season last year (16-5, 3.06 ERA) and was among the top candidates to win the Cy Young.

2. Cincinnati Reds odds: To win NL Central: | To win NL pennant: | To win World Series

2023: 82-80, third place in division

The Reds served notice they are a team on the rise during a 22-6 spurt last spring that coincided with the call-up of then 21-year-old rookie shortstop/third baseman Elly De La Cruz.

He hit .325 in that stretch as Cincinnati stormed from 5.5 games behind in the division race to a two-game lead. But as De La Cruz cooled off, finishing with a .235 average, so did the team. But he’s shown some improvement in the just-completed camp.

This spring, though, has been especially cruel to the Reds and their infield.

First, third baseman Noelvi Marte, one of the preseason favorites to win the Rookie of the Year award, was given an 80-game suspension for testing positive for PEDs. Then starting middle infielder Matt McLain suffered a shoulder injury that will keep him sidelined for the foreseeable future.

On the mound, the Reds are hoping that veteran offseason acquisition Frankie Montas, a right-hander, can make a difference.

3. St. Louis Cardinals odds: To win NL Central: | To win NL pennant: | To win World Series  

2023: 71-91, last place in division

The Cardinals will be looking to become the first team to go from first to worst to first in a three-season stretch since the 1995-1997 San Diego Padres.

This year they are the favorite to return to the top of the division after suffering a last-place finish for the first time since 1918.

But just like in 2023, the Cardinals need pitching. They did acquire 2023 AL Cy Young runner-up Sonny Gray of Minnesota in free agency, but he’s going to open the season on the IL (hamstring). Getting Lance Lynn is not an answer.

Offensively, it’s going to be up to the team’s veteran corner infielders to slug a little harder. Third baseman Nolan Arenado had 26 HRs last year and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt 25. It was the first time since 2017 they both didn’t have at least 30.

4. Milwaukee Brewers odds: To win NL Central: | To win NL pennant: | To win World Series

2023: 92-70, first place in division

Former bench coach of the team, Pat Murphy, takes the reins of a Brewers team that is the only defending division champion in baseball that is forecast to finish fourth this season, based on oddsboards.

A key offseason loss was the trade of ex-Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes to Baltimore. His spot at the top of the rotation is being filled by Freddy Peralta, who was 12-10 last year. But for sure, he’s no Burnes.

When it comes to the bullpen, it’s hard to top Devin Williams, who was 8-3 with 36 saves in 2023 and even more impressively held foes to a .129 batting average. But he’s out for three months due to a back injury. 

The offense could drag the Brewers down. They had the lowest team batting average last season among the 14 playoff teams (.240) and the fewest home runs (165).

5. Pittsburgh Pirates odds: To win NL Central: | To win NL pennant: | To win World Series

2023: 76-86 last place in division

Pirates fans had to be going bonkers early last season when Pittsburgh got off to a 20-8 start, which was startling since they opened the season as the co-longest shots on the pennant oddsboards with Washington at +12500.

But what followed was a stretch of seven straight losses that eventually resulted in them ending up in fourth place — the  seventh straight season they finished last or next to last in the Central.

Is there hope for another burst of quality play and maybe a run to a wild-card berth?

There could be if shortstop Oneil Cruz can last a whole season after appearing in only nine games last year. If spring training he tied for the MLB lead with seven HRs in 46 at-bats.

Pitching could hold the team back, though. Opening-day starter Mitch Keller did have a 13-9 record last year but his ERA of 4.21 doesn’t scream ace.

NL West odds

Here are the latest odds to win the National League West from the top U.S. sportsbook apps:

NL West predicted finish

1. Los Angeles Dodgers odds: To win NL West: | To win NL pennant: | To win World Series

2023: 100-62, first place in division

The Dodgers, coming off a 100-win season in which they won their division by 16 games over Arizona, certainly were busy this offseason.

At the top of the acquisition list was 2023 AL MVP Shohei Ohtani, signed away in free agency from the L.A. Angels, and pitcher Yoshinobu Yakamoto, who was a three-time MVP in Japan’s Pacific League.

And they also landed ex-Tampa Bay right-hander Tyler Glasnow, who evolved this spring into L.A.’s opening-day starter.

Thus, their odds odds to win the pennant have shortened significantly since opening  at +800 (BetMGM).

There’s plenty of talent on offense, too. Outfielder Mookie Betts, who had a team-high 39 homers, returns, and so does Freddie Freeman, who was third in the majors with a .331 average and had 29 long balls.

2. San Francisco Giants odds: To win NL West: | To win NL pennant: | To win World Series

2023: 79-83, fourth place in division

The Giants also made a lot of noise since last season concluded, one in which they had a 18-34 record the final two months and fell out of the playoff chase.

By far their premier acquisition occurred last week when they signed of free agent lefty Blake Snell. He is coming off a Cy Young-winning season in San Diego and will join current ace Logan Webb.

And thanks in large part to that addition the Giants’ odds for the pennant also have shortened significantly from +4000.

Other notable names added to the roster were third baseman Matt Chapman, a four-time Gold Glove winner who played in Toronto last season, and outfielder Jorge Soler, who hit 36 homers for Miami in 2023.

The Giants probably won’t catch the Dodgers, but this time other wild-card contenders probably won’t catch them.

3. Arizona Diamondbacks odds: To win NL West: | To win NL pennant: | To win World Series

2023: 84-78, second place in division

The Diamondbacks squeezed into the playoffs as a wild card on the next to last day of the season in 2023, matching the worst record for any playoff team the past 14 full seasons. And then they went on an impressive run to win the NL pennant.

Behind star pitcher Zac Gallen and speedy slugger Corbin Carroll, Arizona swept Central champ Milwaukee in two games in the first round of the playoffs, followed with a three-game sweep of the powerhouse Dodgers and then rallied from 3-2 down against Philly to win the pennant.

But based on preseason odds, Arizona isn’t expected to carry on that magic. The Diamondbacks opened as +3000 choices at several sites to repeat as NL champ.

4. San Diego Padres odds: To win NL West: | To win NL pennant: | To win World Series

2023: 82-80, third place in division

San Diego management apparently isn’t all-in with regard to competing for division and league honors this year, having traded slugger Juan Soto, who had a career-best 35 homers last season, and letting go in free agency Cy Young winner Snell.

No wonder the team’s pennant odds have swelled from +1600.

It was last year that the Padres, with the third-highest payroll, were expected to be a major factor in the pennant race. But they were largely well back all season.

5. Colorado Rockies odds: To win NL West: | To win NL pennant: | To win World Series

2023: 59-103, last place in division

The Rockies had the worst record in the NL by 12 games last year and finished 20 games deep in last place in the West. Their run differential was minus-236. So, their chances of leapfrogging even one division rival isn’t good.

Yet BetMGM reports Colorado is getting the most action on the “make playoffs” board at +2500.

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