MLB National League Futures Update

The 2012 MLB regular season has been filled with more than its share of early surprises as a few preseason favorites find themselves battling just to stay in their division race, while a few longshots find themselves in the front of the pack.

The following is an update of the future odds for the National league in terms of winning this season’s pennant.

The Front Runners

The Los Angeles Dodgers were the first team in the NL to post 40 wins this season and find themselves with a 4.5-game lead in the NL West heading into this Tuesday’s game against Oakland. Everyone knew that this team had the potential to put it altogether with a roster that is littered with All-Stars, but the fact that it has played so well in all phases of the game has to be a shock to even the staunchest Dodgers’ fans. Los Angeles opened the season at 22/1 to win the NL but is now the odds-on-favorite at 11/4. It has shown no signs of letting up and should receive a huge boost when Matt Kemp returns to the lineup from the DL.

The Cincinnati Reds were 7/5 favorites to win the NL Central and listed as one of three third-favorites to win the NL Pennant at 9/1 before the season started. They have held true to form through the first three months of the season with a 38-28 record and 3.5-game lead in the division and are now the second-favorite at 3/1 to win the NL. The Reds have shown solid balance with a 3.59 team ERA and .254 team batting average through their first 66 games of the year and show no signs of letting up with a 7-3 record in their last 10 games.

The other big surprise in the National League has been the Washington Nationals. Many thought that this talented but youthful squad was still a year or two away from winning on a consistent basis but the Nationals have gelled early to vault to the top of the NL East with an overall record of 38-26. They started the year at 15/1 to win the NL Pennant, but are now listed as the third-favorite at 15/4 to make it all the way to this season’s World Series. The biggest question mark that remains is will Washington have the staying power to hold off the rest of the teams in the East over the long haul?

In the Hunt

The San Francisco Giants were second-favorites to win the NL this season at 7/1 and remain one of the top contenders to win the pennant at 11/2. They are currently 38-30 and in second-place in the NL West but clearly the top team in the wildcard race. The driving force behind San Francisco’s success is still its pitching with a team ERA of 3.30 but it has also done a good job at putting the ball in play with a .263 team batting average. If the Giants can find a way to turn this production at the plate into more runs scored, they have an excellent chance of returning to the World Series this year.

Falling off the Pace

The biggest disappointment this season has to be the Philadelphia Phillies. They opened the season as the perennial favorites to win the NL at 9/4 but a horrendous 31-37 start that has been accented by a 4-12 record in the month of June has them a full nine games back in the NL East. The Phillies are now 11/1 to win the pennant and unless they can quickly turn things around, are in serious danger of fading out of the postseason picture altogether. The key to a turnaround could hinge on the health of a few key players. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley have yet to play a single inning this season but are expected back for the second half of the season. Ace Roy Halladay is also on the DL with a strained right shoulder but could make his return in mid-July.