It is hard to believe that another Major League Baseball season is set to get underway, but with the start of Spring Training in a couple of weeks it is a good time to take a look at a couple of teams that appear poised to make a run at this season’s National League Pennant. All MLB Odds are from 5Dimes – Signup now and get a 50% Welcome bonus Click Here To Qualify
The Favorite- Philadelphia Phillies (+150)
Philadelphia won six more games than the next-best team in the NL last season at 102-60 to cruise to another East Division title, but a severe lack of production at the plate in the Divisional Series against St. Louis spelled an early exit from the playoffs.
The primary reason for the Phillies being a prohibitive favorite at +150 to break through and get back to the World Series is a pitching staff that still features the likes of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hammels. Roy Oswalt is gone, but when you add in Joe Blanton and Vance Worley, it is easily the best starting rotation in MLB.
Consistent run support was the main problem for the Phillies last season, but they did re-sign the bulk of their production most notably Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence. Ryan Howard will be out the lineup until mid-May, as he recovers from an Achilles tendon tear, but this team was built to play in October and this year will be no different.
The Contender- San Francisco Giants (+700)
San Francisco did an amazing job to win 86 games last season after losing Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez for a substantial part of the season, but it was still unable to defend its 2010 World Series title after finishing eight games back in the NL West race and four games back in the Wildcard race.
Posey and Sanchez are expected to be ready to go come opening day and the rest of the roster received a face lift with the departure of several veterans. Gone are Carlos Beltran, Andres Torres, and Pat Burrell among others with players such as Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, and Ryan Theriot added to take their place.
The main thing that remains intact about the Giants is an overall pitching staff has proven itself to be one of the best in the Majors. Jonathan Sanchez is the only starter gone from last season, but Barry Zito hopes to regain his form as a solid number five in the rotation. San Francisco will still need a couple of breaks along the way to win the NL, but the value in its odds at +700 is certainly there.
The Longshot- Chicago Cubs (+1400)
Chicago sank to fifth-place last season in the highly competitive NL Central Division with a record of 71-91. This was four less victories than 2010 and 12 less than 2009, so the Cubs decided that a change at the top was in order.
Former Boston General Manager Theo Epstein was brought in as the team’s new president in an effort to do for Chicago what he did for the Red Sox. His first job was to sift through the wreckage to salvage what he could from an over-priced and under-performing roster. What remains is hopefully enough to make the Cubs competitive right out of the gate in 2012.
Right hander Matt Garza recently agreed to a one-year deal and Ryan Dempster still has a year left on his contract, but Chicago could feature a rotation with three new starters; Paul Maholm from Pittsburgh, Travis Wood from Cincinnati, and Chris Volstad from Florida. With the rest of the talent that is still here, the Cubs could climb their way to the top of the Central if things come together quickly.
2012 National League Pennant – Odds to Win - For Live Odds Checkout 5 Dimes
Arizona Diamondbacks +900
Atlanta Braves +700
Chicago Cubs +1400
Cincinnati Reds +900
Colorado Rockies +1400
Houston Astros +6000
Los Angeles Dodgers +1400
Miami Marlins +1400
Milwaukee Brewers +1400
New York Mets +4000
Philadelphia Phillies +150
Pittsburgh Pirates +4000
San Diego Padres +12500
San Francisco Giants +700
St Louis Cardinals +900
Washington Nationals +1400
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.