NL Central Odds Rankings Disrespect First-Place Brewers

May 3, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Milwaukee Brewers catcher William Contreras (24) runs to first
May 3, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Milwaukee Brewers catcher William Contreras (24) runs to first / Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

After this weekend's 3-1 series win over the St. Louis Cardinals, the Milwaukee Brewers remain a half-game up over the Chicago Cubs for first place in the NL Central.

It's been back-and-forth between those two for the top spot for a while now, and neither one has really managed to establish any kind of a clear edge. It's a close and exciting division race, and one that either team could easily make an argument for being favored to win.

That's going to leave Brewers fans mighty surprised when they see the betting odds in the NL Central Winner market, which have the Brewers a distant second behind the Cubs. Below are the odds to win the NL Central from FanDuel Sportsbook.

  1. Chicago Cubs (+115)
  2. Milwaukee Brewers (+150)
  3. Cincinnati Reds (+800)
  4. St. Louis Cardinals (+850)
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates (+2800)

The odds definitely get a couple of things right. The Pirates have almost zero chance to win the NL Central despite currently sitting in third. And being 7.0 and 8.0 games back already means the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals aren't realistic threats in the race either.

But the Cubs at +115 with the Brewers at +150? To give you some context of how lopsided that is projecting things, it says the Cubs are about 16% more likely to win the division than the Brewers.

Of course, Brewers fans probably aren't surprised by this. The Cubs become a national media darling any time they start to find some success, and the Brewers are quietly finding success without bringing much attention to them at all.

The way the Cubs are finding their success is flashier, too. Their position players rank No. 10 in the majors in FanGraphs' WAR, while the Brewers rank 16th. And that ranking for the Brew comes on the back of the best fielding performance in baseball, while the Cubs is all driven by offense.

The Cubs pitchers also have an edge in WAR (ranking 9th to the Brewers' 12th). Of course, calling that an edge would be disregarding the fact that the Brewers' arms have the best ERA in the majors, and that their superiority over the Cubs' staff is backed by an advanced-stats edge in xFIP (4.13 to 4.19) as well.

As it stands both the Brewers (-188) and Cubs (-220) are big favorites to make the playoffs in the NL this season, but this division race will be crucial in avoiding a potential Wild Card game. Both teams have a long way to go before being considered NL contenders by the oddsmakers, haowever, with +1800 (Milwaukee) and +1700 (Chicago) odds to win the National League.

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