Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:54 AM
Future Bets - NL East
2020 MLB National League East Best Bets
Pitchers and catchers are just days away from reporting to spring training, which means there is no better time then the present to really start to dive into the MLB futures market. There isn't nearly as much uncertainty in the free agency market as there was at this time of the year a season ago which always helps, and while completing trades is seemingly a challenge for some, for the most part the significant pieces of rosters are set this year.
National League East - Win Totals
Atlanta Braves 83.5
Miami Marlins 62.5
New York Mets 86.5
Philadelphia Phillies 85.5
Washington Nationals 90.5
National League East - Odds to Make Playoffs
Atlanta Braves Yes (+105) No (-125)
Miami Marlins Yes (+4000) No (-20000)
New York Mets Yes (+150) No (-180)
Philadelphia Phillies Yes (+170) No (-200)
Washington Nationals Yes (+105) No (-125)
While there is plenty to go through in terms of the entire MLB futures market, I'll be breaking it down by division and touching on a little bit of everything if it fits for that respective division. And there is no better place to start then where the reigning champions reside, so it's NL East plays up first.
Season Win Total Best Bet
New York Mets Over 86.5
The New York Mets have become a franchise known for perennial under-achieving and uncommon scenarios derailing their seasons in recent years, but I do believe all of that changes now that we are in to a new decade.
From a roster perspective, there is plenty to like with New York this season, as on paper at least, they've got one of the best starting rotations in baseball with a top six of deGrom, Syndergaard, Stroman, Wacha, Porcello and Matz. I mean, deGrom has won the Cy Young the last two years, Porcello is a former Cy Young winner himself, a full year of having a former All-Star like Stroman in the rotation can only help, and then you've got 'Thor' swinging his hammer around as well. There are many organizations in baseball that are going to end up being jealous of that starting rotation this year, but the key to the Mets success will be significant improvement from their biggest liability last year – the bullpen.
The Mets bullpen was one of the worst in baseball last year, and just based on the fickle nature of bullpens as it is, there really is nowhere to go but up for that Mets unit. It's not like they don't have the names that have had past success in those high leverage roles with Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Seth Lugo and the newly added Dellin Betances, they've just all got to put it together as a unit. Betances is coming back from injuries so that's a potential question mark, but if he's anywhere near the guy he was for the bulk of his tenure across town with the Yankees, that will be a huge improvement for the Mets alone.
Diaz and Familia fall into the “nowhere to go but up” idea, and while their performances last year may make it hard to believe an improvement could happen, their long-term track history does suggest otherwise. Pitching is always going to be the Mets biggest strength this year, and as long as the bullpen can carry their own weight and not consistently blow games late, the Mets should be a 90 win team.
Offensively, New York still has that nice blend of experience and youth sprinkled throughout their roster, and if guys like Yoenis Cespedes and Robinson Cano can produce like the big name stars they were when they came to this team, this Mets lineup should be fun to watch. Cespedes for one, just had his contract cut for this year by nearly $20 million (from $29.5 to $10 million) thanks to his injury issues in recent years, and with free agency looming for him this winter, there may not be a more motivated guy to produce on this team then him.
Even with some statistical drop offs for say Pete Alonso, the Mets have enough talent on the field overall to help pick up any of that kind of slack. They finished last year dead even in terms of Pythagorean W/L record at 86-76, and that includes all those blown leads late. Should the Mets get a little bit of positive luck this year, and/or just break even in extra inning games (7-9 SU in extra innings last year), getting to at least 87 wins shouldn't be a problem.
Team Future Best Bet
Atlanta Braves to make the playoffs: NO (-125)
As the two-time defending champions of this division, the Atlanta Braves have to come into 2020 feeling like they've built a very strong young core that's made for sustained success. Winning only breeds more winning as they say, and the Braves have learned how to do that over the past two seasons.
However, they haven't done it without plenty of luck, as they were the 2nd “luckiest” team in all of baseball last year in Pythagorean W/L record, out-producing their expected win/loss record of 91-71 by six total wins. Atlanta was also 3rd best in baseball in one-run games (28-16 SU), and went 11-6 SU when extra innings were needed. Teams can't run that well forever, and while they did add a big name like Marcel Ozuna to the outfield this winter, regression is likely coming.
Furthermore, when you look at the entire state of the NL East as a whole, the Mets, Phillies, and Nationals are all plenty capable of passing the Braves this year, as Atlanta's 46-30 SU record from a year ago is likely to regress as well. And really, given the way those four teams could beat up on each other within the division, it's no given that a second NL East team will earn a Wildcard berth either. I do believe there will be a new division champion crowned though, and no matter how the rest of the division shakes out, Atlanta will be on the outside looking in regarding October baseball this year.
Player Prop Best Bet
Noah Syndergaard Over 10.5 wins (-110)
Pitcher wins is a stat that holds much less significance in today's baseball world then they once did, but this number is far too low for Syndergaard this year, all things considered.
Yes, I get that he's only surpassed this total twice in five seasons with New York, which probably has a bit to do with the number being what it is, but I've already touched on the Mets bullpen likely being much better this season, and Syndergaard will be a big beneficiary of that. He's never been the guy to consistently go 7+ innings like deGrom has done for this team, so having his relievers close things down when he does leave ahead will go much further for Syndergaard over the long term.
Going further, Syndergaard is the guy that's kind of gotten lost in this Mets rotation this year with the new additions they've got (Porcello, Stroman) for the full campaign, and the dominant consistency deGrom always brings them at the top. Syndergaard being shipped out of town rumors and talks of his over reliance on who's catching him caused too many distractions for him late last year, and he still managed to finish the year with 10 wins.
Give him a little bit of that positive luck I mentioned before for the Mets this year, and some more held leads from the bullpen, and a 13+ game winner like New York got from him in 2018 and 2016 is what I project we see from 'Thor' in 2020.