Mar. 16, 2021
NL West Betting Odds & Forecast
2021 NL West Division Odds
Even without looking at the prices for the NL West this year, baseball bettors had better have already known this division is going to be a two-horse race between the Dodgers and Padres barring something extraordinary somewhere else.
One of the Giants/Diamondbacks/Rockies is going to end up better than their projections if for no other reason then someone's got to win those games played among each other. But for the team that is lucky enough to do that to seriously threaten the division title – at least at this stage – is money best left kept in pocket.
The Dodgers have owned this division for years, having won it for eight consecutive seasons now. Everyone knows that all those division titles typically ended up in playoff heartbreak before last season, but the fact that the Dodgers were able to get over that hump and win a World Series may actually be a negative for this year's division futures.
A World Series title in exchange for not winning the division after eight straight years of doing so is a trade off every Dodger fan will gladly make, but from a historical betting perspective, I want nothing to do with the Dodgers at -250 to win the NL West for a 9th straight season.
That's because defending World Champions have only gone on to win their division the following year five times the past 20 years. It has happened twice in the past four seasons with the Cubs winning the 2017 NL Central following their 2016 championship year, and the Houston Astros doing the same thing the following season, but given what we know about how good the Padres are, and how willingly they've spent money to further improve can really only suggest a play on San Diego at +200.
San Diego hasn't hidden their agenda to become the next dominant NL West organization this next decade and with how they are loading up things on their roster, the prices on the Padres aren't going to get any cheaper.
L.A. probably should have had at least one other World Series during this run of dominance these past handful of years, but guys have been going elsewhere to get paid more to play and even with the additions and reloads the Dodgers continue to make, eventually runs like that run their course. A bit more uncertainty in the depth department for L.A. has a price like -250 nothing but something I'd be looking to fade more often than not.
It just so happens that it works out rather nicely here with the Padres being the only realistic contender to dethrone the champs. Add in the negative history for World Series champs to go on and win their respective division to the Padres current situation of gunning for a decade of dominance in the “Fernando Tatis era”, only a Padres play makes sense here in my view.
2021 National League Pennant Odds
So the fact that the Dodgers and Padres are priced #1 and #2 in the National League actually serves as more support for backing San Diego at +200 for the division in a roundabout way, but it does also suggest that both may be a little overpriced to go the distance(s) the most expect them too.
But whatever team that wins the NL East had a great season being the best of the bunch in that division, and the NL Central isn't a two-horse race like the NL West is either. Both of those division champs are going to be hard outs in a playoff series, and as we've seen with the Dodgers run prior to 2020, sometime the best team can run through their division/regular season and then get tripped up at the wrong time in a short sample size seven-game series.
It happens all the time. It's not like there aren't plenty of great pitching staffs on some of those potential NL East and NL Central champions to begin with. Any staff gets hot in October and every level of opponent is going to have a tough time.
Neither price on the Dodgers or Padres is all that viable then, unless a bettor believes in one of them so much that walking through the rest of the league won't be an issue for whomever comes out on top in this rivalry. Whether it be for the division or in a playoff series again itself.
Fernando Tatis, Jr. and the Padres have upgraded their roster and will be a threat to the Dodgers in the NL West. (AP)
2021 World Series Odds
Even under the assumption that the Dodgers and Padres could be overpriced to win the NL Pennant, the idea of not having at least one of them involved in the NLCS is a tough one to completely get behind. Meaning that no matter if it's the Dodgers or Padres you are higher on this year, going with that side to win it all might be the most optimum.
The Dodgers are still priced as the overall favorite in all of MLB at +350, and the Padres are third at that number with only the Yankees in between. Hardly any difference in the gap there, a Dodgers' World Series price will never be +175 as the gap between their league pennant and World Series odds currently are, and the Padres price gap is a little bigger than that.
Furthermore, even with a slow start for the Dodgers that has them hovering around .500 after a month or so say, won't see their price drop dramatically where the idea of waiting on them might come into play. LA is too loaded not to find a way to get a playoff spot somehow, and even their price as the last wildcard wouldn't be astronomically higher than this one currently is. It's not like you can't double down on the Dodgers as well.
Most often though the Dodgers are running no worse than Top 3 in the NL West from the outset, and no worse than Top 5-8 in the National League for the majority of the season. An underwhelming year by the Padres for whatever reason adds even more wins to the Dodgers coffers in some form. Having the defending champs at +350 to repeat when they could have home field advantage throughout the playoffs isn't a bad place to be.
My apologies to any Giants/Diamondbacks/Rockies tickets, but seeing any one of those teams run hot enough for long enough, to come Top 2 in this division and then get hot enough to run through the rest of the NL and the AL representative is a lottery ticket that doesn't have a big enough price to entertain.
2021 NL West Win Totals Odds
Getting involved in one of the projected bottom three teams always makes more sense in win totals than anywhere else, and seeing two of the three cash 'over' tickets this year would not be all that surprising. In that outcome, you'd have to figure that Colorado would likely be one of the two teams to do so, as 64 wins means still losing nearly 100 games.
The Rockies might not be trying to win everything these days, but they've still got bats like Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story in their lineup. Playing in a ballpark where average hitters can easily look like nightly studs, expecting the Rockies to be 100-game losers this year feels like they aren't getting enough credit.
On the other side of the coin, if the Dodgers fall victim to being another defending World Series champ not to win their division the following year, it would be quite the feat to win 103+ games and not be a division winner. Meaning that any Padres winning the division bet is correlated to a Dodgers win total 'under' bet when you think about it.
That number the Dodgers have is a big one to cover for any team, even with the Dodgers likely winning a healthy percentage of their games from playing the bottom teams in the NL West.
Even those that are high on the Dodgers again this year should have a second thought about going over a number like this no matter what. No matter how you want to view it, there are definitely better options and potential edges out there.
2021 NL West Playoff Props
Not a whole lot of time is needed to be spent here unless you are going for an outlier result as a big underdog.
Whether it's the “no” on the Dodgers or Padres, or “yes” on everyone else, unless you are willing to put out a big chunk of the bankroll on what of the more relative certain options, it's probably how you have to treat the playoff yes/no props with the NL West teams.
2021 NL West MVP Contenders
No shortage of quality names from this division for MVP candidates but the interesting thing to me is having those two Rockies players priced at 50-1 or better. If Blackmon or Story win the MVP, the Rockies are definitely going 'over' their season win total of 63.5, and they still don't need a MVP-caliber season from either of them to get past that number. Seeing those two names here actually makes that Colorado win total 'over' much more appealing.
The rest of the list is pick your preference wherever it may be, although Cody Bellinger might want to get passed over a bit more often. Not one of the past 10 NL MVP's have won it more than once in their careers, and Bellinger is the only former NL MVP (2019) on that list. What that means for Mookie Betts and his 2018 AL MVP award is up to the individual, as he is the co-favorite in the league with Washington's Juan Soto.
Corey Seager is probably another name to avoid at that price. The last reigning World Series MVP winner to go on to win league MVP the following year was Mike Schmidt (1980 WS MVP, 1981 NL MVP (defending 1980 NL MVP), so 15-1 might not be enough to expect that to happen. Especially with how many other great candidates the Dodgers have alone.
Eight straight NL West titles has only “given” the Dodgers two MVP winners in that span (Kershaw in 2014, Bellinger in 2019, and if the thought process of the Padres uprising continues, you probably can't go wrong with either of those two Padres players listed.
2021 NL West Cy Young Contenders
Repeating as NL Cy Young champ has actually been quite a regular occurrence with deGrom, Scherzer, Kershaw, and Lincecum all accomplishing the feat since 2008, and Randy Johnson won four in a row at the turn of the century (1999-2002).
But you'd have to go back to the run of four straight Cy Young's that Greg Maddux had from 1992 through 1995 to find someone that managed to repeat as the Cy Young award winner and do so on a different team. That's the mountain any Trevor Bauer wager has to climb, and only deGrom has a better price to claim the award, so opinions are already quite high on Bauer to begin with.
I will say this though, having six different guys from the Dodgers and Padres top this list for players in the division makes plenty of sense. All it takes is for one of them to dominate the other rival – a Padres pitcher going 6-1 in starts vs LA or the other way around – to have them vault to the front as one of the favorites come late in the year. Accomplishing that means that same pitcher will rack up plenty of dominant performances against the rest of the division, and being the pitcher that led the way to a division crown and potential World Series run is going to be hard to ignore in the Cy Young voting.
Where a bettor stands on selecting any of those names goes back to the entire discussion that's gone on throughout regarding where one believes the Dodgers and Padres will finish the year. The San Diego side of that debate has been the preferred side for me, and sticking with that line of thought, it would be Darvish who would get my support.
Darvish took so much heat from all angles on that Game 7 start for the Dodgers in the 2017 World Series when the Astros stung him for five in the first two innings and went on to win Game 7 by a 5-1 score. Well, a rough first two innings against the 2017 Houston Astros (in the most important game of the year) looks a hell of a lot different now then it did in the immediate aftermath of Darvish getting skewered for the rough outing. It would be some kind of poetic justice to dominant that same organization he seemingly “let down” to lead their new rival to a new uprising.
Darvish definitely has the stuff to be a serious player in the Cy Young race, and maybe if he has a huge hand in San Diego gaining the upper hand in the NL West this year, some karmic retribution is in order. Darvish was just in the wrong place at the wrong time for that Game 7, sometimes that message gets lost. Does Kershaw's last few years look any different if that was him starting Game 7 in 2017 with the same result?
2021 National League West Predictions
Best Bet/Value on NL West Division Winner
Best Bet: San Diego (+200)
Best Bet/Value on National League Pennant Winner
Best Value: None (San Diego if necessary)
Best Bet/Value for World Series Winner
Best Value: Los Angeles (+350)
Best Bets/Value for NL West Win Totals
Best Over: Colorado (63.5)
Best Under: Los Angeles (102.5)
Best Bet/Value for Yes/No in the 2021 MLB Playoffs
Best Bet: Arizona - Yes (+1000)
Best Bets/Value for Individual Awards
Best Bet MVP: Manny Machado, San Diego (+2200)
Best Value Cy Young: Yu Darvish, San Diego (+1200)
National League West Betting History
Year - Winner (Last 10)
Odds Subject to Change - per BetMGM