MLB Odds: Vastly improved Reds could win NL Central
The NL Central Division is pretty wide open in 2020. Other than the pitiful Pittsburgh Pirates, any one of the teams could end up winning the division. While the division has belonged to the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals for a while now, could this be the year the Cincinnati Reds finally win the division? Bet365 has them at +265 to win the NL Central and +2500 to win the World Series.
By all accounts it seems that the Reds finished last season looking worse than they actually were. This is made most evident by comparing their record with their run differential. The team finished 75-87 in 2019 and yet only had a -10 run differential. That is a lot of close losses and with some better talent and luck they could improve drastically this season.
The Reds have outspent most of their division rivals, with the Cubs and the Cardinals not making much changes. Cincinnati has certainly made the most positive additions in the offseason. The biggest addition was signing Mike Moustakas, a player with 35 home runs and 87 RBIs last season with Milwaukee. The addition of Moustakas will be a huge help to a struggling offense.
Offense is certainly where the Reds struggled last season. They ranked 25th in batting average with .244 and 22nd in on-base percentage with .315. These numbers must improve if they want to win their division and I believe they will. With the acquisition of players such as Moustakas, outfielder Nick Castellanos, and with some coaching additions, the team should make a dramatic improvement in my opinion. With their pitching staff, they really only need a league average lineup to compete in their division.
Speaking off that pitching staff, this team has got an amazing rotation, let me tell you. Ranked 8th in ERA in 2019 with 4.18, they had a strike percentage of 25.6%, which put them at 4th ranked in the MLB. It is one of the best rotations in the National League and certainly the best in the NL Central.
With the pitching staff and their additions on offense this team will improve on that year's results. I think the improvement will be rather drastic, as even without improvement their results last season seemed unfair. I expect this team to win the NL Central and maybe even a playoff series.
The win total given by bet365 is 84.5 and I would take the over on that in a heartbeat. Get on this team before they start winning early, as they are going to be one of the biggest surprises of the early MLB season.
James Allen / March 2nd 2020