The National League Pennant is up for grabs, but only a certain number of teams have a reasonable shot at winning it. Unlike the American League, where anyone can be on the right side of luck and variance, only six or seven teams have a real, legitimate shot at a trip to the World Series. With one clear favorite and a few other teams in the second tier, there are quite a few options at a reasonable price. On the other hand, the lack of parity may take away some value because the oddsmakers need to account for exposure.

The Senior Circuit has won four of the last six World Series, even though the American League seems to win interleague play just about every season. One of the things that makes pennant futures betting hard is that a lot of the same teams have gone deep into the playoffs lately, including the San Francisco Giants, who have won three straight World Series in even-numbered years. The New York Mets were a surprise contender, but the Sat. Louis Cardinals always seem to be in the hunt. Some new kids moved onto the block last year with the emergence of the Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets. How do the odds shake out this season?

In terms of National League Pennant odds, here are the prices from BetDSI Sportsbook (click the team name for Adam Burke’s MLB season win total analysis):

Chicago Cubs +306

Los Angeles Dodgers +475

New York Mets +500

San Francisco Giants +509

Washington Nationals +600

St. Louis Cardinals +865

Pittsburgh Pirates +993

Arizona Diamondbacks +1306

Miami Marlins +2158

San Diego Padres +5300

Cincinnati Reds +6500

Milwaukee Brewers +7200

Atlanta Braves +7500

Colorado Rockies +10000

Philadelphia Phillies +13000


Three teams to watch:

San Francisco Giants (+509): The Giants have done this in three straight even-numbered years, which is both coincidental and impressive. The fact that the Giants have been in a position to win three of the last six World Series titles speaks for itself. With a very impressive offseason that included the signings of Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Denard Span to add to a very strong core of young position players, it’s clear to see why the Giants are getting so much respect. In a short series, Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzija would be tough to beat. Buster Posey is an elite player at his position and the Giants have one of the best managers in the game in Bruce Bochy. It’s hard to quantify how many games a manager helps a team win over the course of a season, but Bochy excels at his craft.

New York Mets (+500): With similar odds, how does somebody beat the New York Mets in a series? By the time the playoffs roll around, the Mets will have a choice to make between Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler as the #4 starter, which is absurd to think about. Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Noah Syndergaard throw molten lava with breaking balls that make viewers’ knees buckle and they don’t even have an up close look. The offense is pretty good enough since Yoenis Cespedes was re-signed in free agency and the Mets should have a fairly easy path to qualifying for the postseason. Even if they don’t win the division, feeding off of three subpar teams in the NL East should be enough for a wild card.

St. Louis Cardinals (+865): Injuries or not, it seems a little bit crazy to write off the St. Louis Cardinals in such a way that gives them these kinds of odds. Yes, they are stuck in a division with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs. However, the Cardinals have a lot of experience and have a lot of guys that can really play. If Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, and Carlos Martinez all navigate the grind of 162 games healthy enough to pitch into October, there’s no reason the Cardinals can’t win the whole thing. Not to mention, John Mozeliak is very active in the trade market year after year, so who’s to say the Cardinals won’t improve dramatically in July? Never count out the Cardinals.


Teams to Avoid:

Los Angeles Dodgers (+475): The hype is deserved. Unfortunately, there are so many injury risks in the starting rotation that the Dodgers may struggle to find five healthy guys at various points this season. Clayton Kershaw is elite and no small sample size of playoff starts can tell you otherwise, but the rotation is largely an unknown behind the game’s best pitcher. There are a lot of great players on this roster and some that could really blossom this season, but there are so many risks here. Also, it may be unfair, but the Dodgers have been good many times before and haven’t made a World Series since 1988. Why are they so much better this time around?

Just About Everybody Else: Look, there are six, seven if you count Pittsburgh, teams capable of winning the NL pennant. Intriguing odds aside, nobody outside of the top teams has a realistic shot to make a deep October run. Arizona will not. Miami will not. None of the long shots will come in. Stick to your favorite of the top seven on the board and hope that luck and variance are on your side.