Current, reigning champions the Chicago Cubs are the MLB betting favorites to win division, league, and World Series in 2017. Having said that, there are four other teams in the NL Central division that will compete for the attention of fans who bet on baseball. Namely, the Cincinnati Reds, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Cubs will enter their 146th season, 142nd in the National League, 102nd at Wrigley Field as the defending World Series champions. Chicago came back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Cleveland Indians in seven games in the 2016 World Series, which was also their first appearance since 1945 and first win since the 1908 – thus ending the longest World Series championship drought in history. The Cubs also became the first team to win Games 6 and 7 on the road in a World Series. Chicago will start the 2017 season on April 2nd 2017 at the St. Louis Cardinals and finish it on October 1st at home against the Cincinnati Reds.
The Reds attempted to bounce back from a ghastly 2015 season, but ended up in last place in the National League Central division for the second year in a row. Their 68-94 win/loss record in 2016 was just four games better than the previous season. Cinci will open the 2017 season on April 3rd versus the Phillies and will close it on October 1st at the Chicago Cubs as mentioned above.
The Cards are the closest to an MBL betting favorite other than the Cubs in the NL Central. St. Louis entered the 2016 season having won an MLB-best 100 games, as thrice defending division champions, and with five straight postseason appearances. Moreover, Forbes magazine estimated the club to be the seventh-most valuable franchise in the league. In spite of all of the preceding, the Cards disappointed fans who bet on baseball by getting eliminated from playoff on Sunday, October 2nd, marking the first time that St. Louis failed to make the playoffs since the 2010 season. The Cards will kick-off the 2017 season on April 2nd versus the Cubs and will wrap it up on October 1st versus the Brewers.
The Pirates finished the 2016 season third in the Division with 78 wins, 83 losses, and 1 tie. In other words, the Pirates finished with a losing record and failed to reach the postseason for the first time since 2012. Two Pirates were selected to represent the National League in the All-Star Game; pitcher Mark Melancon and outfielder Starling Marte. Furthermore, two players were named NL Player of the Week in September; infielder Jung-ho Kang and utility player Sean Rodriguez. Pittsburg will begin its 2017 season with a three-game series at the Boston Red Sox and will finish it with a four-game series at the Nationals.
Like the Reds, the Brewers are far from being MLB betting favorites. Milwaukee finished the 2016 season in fourth place in the Division and did not reach the postseason. They open on April 3rd versus Colorado and close on October 1st against the Cards.