St. Louis won their first National League Central title since 2009, although they did fail to win their second World Series crown in three years with a six-game loss to Boston. Can they become the first team since the Chicago Cubs in 2007 and 2008 to go back-to-back in the Central? Here’s the World Series betting lines for the Central teams and our projections as to where they’ll finish:
1. Cincinnati Reds
Odds To Win World Series: +1500
The Reds just missed out on the wild card spot last year as they lost to Pittsburgh in the play-in game, and now they have to replace Shin-Soo Choo’s bat. However, they still have the right side of the infield in Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce can be a game-changer in right field. Cincinnati’s pitching staff emerged as one of the best in the game, and if they do it again, they will not only be a contender in the Central, but the National League overall.
2. St. Louis Cardinals
Odds To Win World Series: +800
The Cardinals are the New England Patriots of Major League Baseball: you can count on them to be in the mix every single year and it looks like they parted ways with the declining Albert Pujols right on time. Adam Wainwright is back to ace status, although the Cards sadly had to say goodbye to the retiring Chris Carpenter. Still, if any team has been grooming a replacement for a pitcher like Carpenter, it is St. Louis. The Cardinals don’t have many big bats outside of Matt Holliday and Allen Craig, but it is a lineup that gets timely hitting and that can be all you need. Don’t bet against St. Louis in 2014.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates
Odds To Win World Series: +2500
The Pirates find themselves in the spotlight after last year’s amazing transformation which saw them return to the postseason for the first time since 1992. However, they lost A.J. Burnett to a big-money deal in Philadelphia, and he was an important veteran presence. Andrew McCutchen has to prove that last year’s MVP win was no fluke. Basically, the entire team has to show that they aren’t a one-year surprise and that they will be around for the next couple seasons. How they manage expectations will have a huge say in how the Pirates factor on the betting odds in 2014.
4. Milwaukee Brewers
Odds To Win World Series: +6500
The Brewers struggled under the Ryan Braun saga for most of the 2013 season and both sides are trying to move forward, and that will be a major obstacle in 2014. If he is back and focused, the Brewers have a big bat, and the addition of Matt Garza should bolster the pitching staff. With a few breaks to the top teams, the Brewers could find themselves in the wild-card hunt later this year.
5. Chicago Cubs
Odds To Win World Series: +8000
The Cubs have finished in last place for four consecutive seasons, so moving out of the basement would be a start. They picked Rick Renteria to be the manager and he doesn’t have much outside of Anthony Rizzo at first base and a subpar rotation. Don’t expect much from the Cubbies this year, although that probably started at least three years ago.