2011 MLB Free Picks: NL Central Preview and Predictions

Last Updated: March 30th, 2011 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)
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The NL Central is a wide open division this season, and there are legitimately four teams that could ultimately end up making the playoffs out of this bunch. Check out how we stack up the NL Central odds this season.

The favorites to win this division this year are the Milwaukee Brewers (2.05 to 1 @ Sportbet Sportsbook). We know that Zack Greinke isn’t going to be in the lineup on Opening Day, but he really has the ability to win 20 games this year for this team. This is largely the same type of squad that made the postseason a few years ago with CC Sabathia, and now, the Brew Crew have the use of Greinke for the whole year. Yovani Gallardo is a great No. 2 starter, while John Axford should be able to anchor the bullpen. Prince Fielder, in a contract season, could be in line for a great year, and if he gets off to a great start, this team really could be a terror on the rest of the division.

The defending champs on the division are the Cincinnati Reds (2.35 to 1 @ Hollywood Sportsbook). Joey Votto in an unheralded star, and Manager Dusty Baker has a great set of bats and arms at his disposal as well. Was Cincy a one year wonder last year in the postseason? We’ll soon find out. However, one thing is for sure, and that’s that the rest of the division is a heck of a lot better this year.

The team that suffered the worst break of the offseason was the St. Louis Cardinals (3 to 1 @ Sportbet Sportsbook). Not only did the team not ultimately end up winning the race with Albert Pujols to get a contract done, but then it lost Adam Wainwright in Spring Training for the year as well. It would be a tremendous accomplishment for this team to make it into the second season this year, and if it doesn’t, don’t be surprised if both Pujols and Manager Tony LaRussa end up flying the Cardinals’ coup.

The team that could be the real upstart this year out of nowhere is the Chicago Cubs (5 to 1 @ Hollywood Sportsbook). The Cubbies were one of the teams that raided the Tampa Bay Rays in this offseason. They picked up both Carlos Pena and Matt Garza in the winter, and those acquisitions really might make up for a number of bad signings over the years. This is the longest shot of the realistic teams that can get the job done, but we aren’t counting out the North Siders yet.

Both the Houston Astros (33 to 1 @ Sportbet Sportsbook) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (45 to 1 @ Sportbet Sportsbook) really have no shot to do that much damage. You can bet that the Pirates are good for yet another season below .500.

Odds to Win NL Central @ BetUS Sportsbook (as of 3/30/11):
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Chicago Cubs 5 to 1
Cincinnati Reds 2 to 1
Houston Astros 25 to 1
Milwaukee Brewers 1.75 to 1
Pittsburgh Pirates 40 to 1
St. Louis Cardinals 2.75 to 1

Betting Lines to Win NL Central @ Sportbet Sportsbook (as of 3/30/11):
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Milwaukee Brewers 2.05 to 1
Cincinnati Reds 2.35 to 1
St. Louis Cardinals 3 to 1
Chicago Cubs 4.85 to 1
Houston Astros 33 to 1
Pittsburgh Pirates 45 to 1

2011 NL Central Odds @ Hollywood Sportsbook (as of 3/30/11):
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Chicago Cubs 4.50 to 1
Cincinnati Reds 1.80 to 1
Houston Astros 40 to 1
Milwaukee Brewers 1.80 to 1
Pittsburgh Pirates 100 to 1
St. Louis Cardinals 3 to 1

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Posted in MLB Baseball - Last Updated on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011 @ 1:44 pm (EST)
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