Ladies and Gentlemen, there are less than 5 days left until the start of the 2014 MLB season. No better time to figure out who’s going to win it, right? Earlier we gave you our teams to watch in terms of winning the World Series from the American League. Now we’re going to have a look at three squads that should be considered among the favorites to either represent the National League in the World Series, or indeed to win same.
The LA Dodgers aren’t just the favorite to win the National League, they are currently the bookies' favorite to win the World Series too. Considering how wide open the rest of the field is, the Dodgers are actually kind of restrictive favorites at 6/1 with most bookies. The next closest teams are 10/1 and more. That reflects a strong belief on the part of the bookies that LA is going to take the top prize come season's end.
Where does this faith come from?
Talent, additions and, of course, truckloads of dollar bills. The Dodgers have money to burn. They have resources beyond the wildest dreams of almost every other MLB team, and they simply don’t give a damn about the extra tax that comes from their borderline insane spending.
In terms of additions, perhaps the biggest turnover came in pitching, where the Dodgers added multiple new faces and fresh arms. They added starters Dan Haren and Paul Maholm and Chris Perez and Jamey Wright were brought in for the bullpen. In terms of hitting and fielding Cuban defector and 2nd base whiz Alex Guerrero is an interesting prospect, while getting full seasons from both Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig will be like getting two new superstar players.
That is of course until Puig’s next brush with the law, and Ramirez’s next injury.
The raw talent
Every so often a team simply fails to show up in a given season. The parts are all there, in terms of talent, but for whatever reason, the results don’t go their way. Quite often that team can be a dangerous animal the next season, one to watch out for. The Washington Nationals fit that cap nicely. The addition of Doug Fister from the Tigers is a huge bonus for Washington. Fister should be absolutely dominant in the NL, where teams are built differently and where of course he won’t have to face a DH again (except in interleague play). Fister might win 20 plus games in the NL. His addition rounds out an already superb starting rotation.
Washington is going to score plenty of runs to back that solid starting pitching up. Harper, Werth and McClouth are as big-hitting an outfield as there is in the NL, while Zimmerman and LaRoche should chip in 30 HRs plus from the corners of the infield. The bullpen is good too, very good. Clippard and Storen are a nice bridge to the closer, Soriano.
Washington are due a bounce back year, and the 12/1 they are currently at with most bookies probably won’t stay this high too far into the new season.
Pittsburgh gave it a great shot last season and rattled plenty of cages deep into the playoffs.
Considering some astute moves and some really top level raw talent, they represent great value at 20/1 to make waves in 2014. NL MVP Andrew McCutchen can take it to the next level and become a household name as one of the best players in baseball, and Walker, Sanchez, Alvarez and catcher Russell Martin all combine to add plenty of weight to a well-balanced lineup. In terms of starting pitching, the Pirates' staff loves to throw a good, daisy-cutting ground ball, and their excellent defensive infield loves picking those up too. Their rotation won’t blow you away in terms of name-familiarity, however they get the job done and generally don’t leave the bullpen too exposed. There is help on the way too, with top prospects, outfielder Gregory Polanco and righthanded starter Jameson Taillon, probably arriving in The Bigs early in the season, adding some more talent to the Pirates' already deep roster.
The Pirates are clearly no flash-in-the-pan and will probably give that 20/1 a pretty good value run for its money.