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How the public is betting the NL Central during Spring Training

The St. Louis Cardinals are favorites in the National League Central headed into the 2021 season. We break down how the public is betting the division.

Why the Cardinals won’t win the NL Central

It looks like there could be four competitive teams in the National League Central this year. However, if things don’t go their way, it wouldn’t be shocking to see any of those four turn into sellers at the trade deadline. Let’s discuss each NL Central team and how they are being viewed by those betting on DraftKings Sportsbook.

St. Louis Cardinals (+105)

The Cardinals made the biggest move of any NL Central team this offseason and have garnered the most attention from bettors. They have received 69% of the handle and 66% of the bets. Bringing in Nolan Arenado to team with Paul Goldschmidt gives the Cards an enviable offensive nucleus and two outstanding defenders at the corner infield spots. They will lead what is an otherwise young lineup that includes Tommy Edman, Tyler O’Neill and rookie Dylan Carlson. Jack Flaherty was one of the best pitchers in the National League in 2019 before taking a step back in 2020. Kwang-hyun Kim stood out in his first MLB season last year as he recorded a 1.62 ERA in 39 innings over seven starts.

Milwaukee Brewers (+300)

The Brewers account for 14% of the handle and 8% of the bets. Their first order of business is making sure Christian Yelich is right. The 2018 NL MVP batted just .205 in the shortened season and saw his OPS drop by more than 300 points from 2019. Second baseman Keston Hiura also regressed in 2020 and will try to regain the form he showed in his 2019 rookie season when he batted .303 with 19 homers in 84 games. Milwaukee’s starting rotation contains a couple of underrated aces in Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes. The Brewers also have possibly the best closer in baseball, Josh Hader, and the 2020 NL Rookie of the Year, Devin Williams, lurking at the back end of their bullpen.

Cincinnati Reds (+330)

The Reds have 3% of the handle and 8% of the bets. Thirteen-year vet Joey Votto remains in the middle of Cincy’s offense. Eugenio Suarez provides lots of power out of the cleanup spot, but for the Reds to take the next step, they have to get the most out of youngsters Jesse Winker and Nick Senzel. The Reds’ starting rotation might be the best in the division. Ace Luis Castillo is backed up by the underrated Tyler Mahle and Sonny Gray, who has remade his career in Cincinnati after some struggles with the Yankees.

Chicago Cubs (+425)

The Cubs have received 13% of the handle and 15% of the bets. This could be the final year in Chicago for Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, two franchise cornerstones who were the leaders of the 2016 title team. Both are free agents after the season. That duo along with shortstop Javier Baez, catcher Willson Contreras and outfielder Ian Happ make up the bulk of a quality lineup that underachieved in 2020. Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta are at the top of a rotation that will rely much more on creating soft contact than strikeouts. In an era of increased velocity, the Cubs have the staff with the lowest collective velocity in baseball.

Pittsburgh Pirates (+6500)

The Pirates have 2% of the handle and 2% of the bets. It’ll be another long year in Pittsburgh as the Pirates are in the middle of a total rebuild. However, rookie third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes looks like a definite bright spot; he hit .376 across 85 at-bats last year. Starting pitcher Steven Brault also performed well in the shortened season, logging a 3.38 ERA in 10 starts. But ultimately, the Pirates might end 2021 with the worst record in baseball.

Here’s a look at the betting splits as they sit as we kick off Spring Training on March 1st for the 2021 MLB season.

NL Central betting splits, March 1

Handle Rank Team Odds % of Handle % of Bets
Handle Rank Team Odds % of Handle % of Bets
1 STL Cardinals +105 69% 66%
2 MIL Brewers +300 14% 8%
3 CHI Cubs +425 13% 15%
4 CIN Reds +330 3% 8%
5 PIT Pirates +6500 2% 2%

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