7 Observations About the National League for Sports Bettors

MLB Logo on Right and a Man Holding Cash on Left

The next several weeks of the 2021 MLB season will be quite telling and crucial for several teams around the league. They will also be important for those of you who gamble on America’s Pastime.

With only a few more months of regular-season action remaining before the playoffs begin, now is the time for bettors to make moves. In the coming days, gamblers will be able to know more and more about the league.

The All-Star Break is over, and baseball is entering the toughest, most physically draining stretch of the season. The top contenders will continue to separate themselves from the pack.

Meanwhile, the basement dwellers will try to take advantage of the trade deadline and improve their chances in the following years. While both the American League and National League are compelling and worth gambling on, this post will primarily deal with the NL.

Here are 5 observations about the National League for professional sports bettors.

NL East Is One of the League’s Most Intriguing Divisions

Of all the division races around the league, the NL East is one of the most intriguing. The division isn’t the most talented, and none of the teams should be favored heading into the postseason.

However, the relative parity and balanced rosters around the division could make for some must-watch drama.

The New York Mets seem to be the top dog in the East and are listed at -175 to win the division. The key to New York’s early success has been its pitching, as it has one of the best staff around the league.

Leading the way for the Mets is Cy Young’s favorite Jacob deGrom who is in the midst of one of the best seasons in MLB history. There’s even a chance the Mets ace could finish the season with an ERA below 1, which is virtually unthinkable in the modern era.

If New York’s pitching is its strength, then its lack of offensive production is its most glaring weakness. New York simply doesn’t have the firepower to put up consistent run support.

To make matters worse, shortstop Fransisco Lindor was recently placed on the IL with an oblique strain. While Lindor is struggling mightily at the plate compared to years past, you can’t overstate the impact he has.

This is where things could get interesting in the East. While the Mets bats are struggling, some of its top divisional rivals are thriving.

The Philadelphia Phillies (+425) seem to pose the biggest threat to the Mets, thanks in large part to its run production. While Philadelphia wouldn’t necessarily be regarded as one of baseball’s best, it certainly trumps New York’s.

When push comes to shove a batting order that contains names like Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto, and Rhys Hoskins is a formidable one. If New York wants to maintain control of the division, the team will have to start scoring more runs.

The pitching has been phenomenal for the most part, but it’s hard to say if that production is sustainable.

Injury to Ronald Acuna Jr. Devastating for Braves, League

You might have noticed the omission of the Atlanta Braves (currently 3rd in the NL East) in the previous point. That wasn’t an oversight. While Atlanta is still technically in the race for the division title, its chances recently took a serious blow.

It’s safe to say that Ronald Acuna Jr. is the team’s best player as one of the league’s budding young superstars. The 23-year-old outfielder has been a model of consistency since he entered the league and seems to improve every year.

Through 82 games, Acuna was slashing .283/.394/.596 with 24 home runs and 52 RBIs. Those stats led to him being selected to the National League All-Star Team and had many gamblers looking at Acuna as a potential MVP candidate.

Atlanta Braves MLB Stadium

Unfortunately, the Braves star suffered an injury that turned out to be a torn ACL, ending his season. Injuries are a part of sports, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch one of the best players in baseball suffer something so serious and devastating.

Atlanta has held its own in Acuna’s absence and is still hanging around the NL East.

The recent acquisition of Joc Pederson might help, but Atlanta’s pennant aspirations have taken a serious blow. It’s a tough ask to replace the production of someone like Acuna Jr.

3 ‒ Race for NL West Could Come Down to Final Days

While the NL East is one of the more intriguing divisions in baseball, the West might be the most talented.

Three teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, and the San Francisco Giants are locked in a battle. San Francisco holds a slight lead over the Dodgers while the Padres are 5.5 games back.

Despite San Francisco’s spectacular first half of the season, oddsmakers don’t seem to be buying the Giants as a true contender and are setting the betting lines accordingly.

Instead, the Dodgers are the favorites to win the division at -250. Trailing LA is the Giants at +330 and Padres at +480.

While Giants fans might take offense to this perceived slight, the Dodgers are widely held as the best team in the league. Its loaded roster is simply more impressive on paper, and many members of the team have a ton of playoff experience.

Meanwhile, San Francisco hasn’t been relevant in 5 years.

Not many experts and gambling pros predicted this type of performance from San Fran. Many likely still expect the Giants to fall off at some point.

However, if the Giants, together with the young core of superstars in San Diego, can continue to play solid baseball, the race in the West could come down to the final stretch.

There’s a case to be made for all 3 of these squads and the next few weeks should allow gamblers to separate fact from fiction.

4 ‒ Is There Any Value in MVP Race?

The National League MVP race looks like it will come down to 2 players: Jacob deGrom and Fernando Tatis Jr.

The case for deGrom is simple: he’s having one of the greatest seasons a pitcher’s had in decades. His statistics are off the charts as he’s leading the National League in a number of key categories.

The NL Cy Young award is all but his as the Mets ace is currently listed at an absolutely absurd -1400. For reference, Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff holds the second position at +1500.

MLB Dodger at Bat

While the race for the Cy Young award seems to be all but wrapped up, deGrom is facing some serious competition in the race for the Most Valuable Player award.

That competition comes in the form of one of the most electric players in baseball: San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr.

Tatis Jr. is destroying National League pitching and is leading the NL in home runs (28), OPS (1.021), and WAR (4.8). In other words, he’s crushing the competition whether you take an old-school or new-age approach to statistics.

Both players are certainly deserving of the award and Vegas tends to agree. deGrom (-110 to win MVP) holds a slight edge over Tatis (+115).

Expect these odds to shift dramatically in the coming days. Jacob deGrom was placed on the IL with forearm tightness and there isn’t a timetable for his return.

The good news for Mets fans is that there appears to be no structural damage which means deGrom will pitch again this season. For now, though, betting on Tatis is certainly the safer move.

5 ‒ There Isn’t a Dominant Team

The Los Angeles Dodgers have dominated the National League for the last several years. While LA is still regarded as the best team in the NL, it has looked less than dominant at times this season.

That isn’t an indictment on LA’s first half. Instead, it’s meant more as praise for other contenders around the National League.

The Dodgers are still most likely the best team in the NL. Its pitching staff is among the best in the bigs and its lineup is loaded with talent.

But there’s a significant difference between being the best team in the league and being a dominant force. Whereas you might’ve looked foolish for picking anyone other than the Dodgers in the previous years, other squads are worthy of potential wagers.

Conclusion

The National League is chock full of compelling storylines and interesting gambling decisions.

The NL East looks like one of the most interesting divisions in baseball and it still remains to be seen which team will pull ahead of its divisional foes.

Injuries to Jacob deGrom and Fransisco Lindor have thrown a serious wrench into New York’s plans of securing its first NL pennant since 2015.

Like the Mets, Atlanta has experienced some unfortunate injury luck as well. The Brave’s best player Ronald Acuna Jr. is out for the year with a torn ACL which could easily derail Atlanta’s season.

Acuna was moving his way up the list in the MVP race. However, his season-ending injury has resulted in the race narrowing down to 2 competitors: deGrom and Tatis Jr.

The Mets don’t know how long deGrom will be on the shelf. However, if he misses significant time, Tatis will likely be running away with the MVP trophy.

So keep your eyes on the NL to see how the season comes to a head. And don’t forget to check out the current odds at your favorite sports betting site for this season!