Opening Day will happen a week later than originally scheduled, but baseball is back. Spring training is in full swing, and the first day of the 2022 MLB regular season is slated for Thursday, April 7th.
After a full winter’s worth of contentious and exhausting labor negotiations, the league was ultimately able to salvage a full 162-game schedule. And, now that we’re (hopefully) getting into the latter stages of the pandemic, the beginning of this season should look a lot more normal than last year’s Opening Day, complete with stadiums full of fans nationwide. A busy free-agency frenzy followed the resumption of business operations after the ugly lockout. As of now, however, most of the dust seems to have settled. A number of big-name players found new homes this offseason, which should make the 2022 divisional races incredibly interesting around the league.
MLB betting sites have kept an eye on the developments throughout the entirety of the offseason. Which teams are good bets to win their respective division titles this season?
MLB Division Odds for American League East
Frankly, it’s a little surprising to see the Orioles with MLB division odds as favorable at +5000. This is probably going to be the worst team in baseball again, so don’t get cute.
The Jays, who also boast arguably the deepest lineup in the majors, are now +165 favorites to win the AL East for the first time since 2015.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homered in his first trip to the plate Sunday, but perhaps more interesting was his second at-bat as although the result was disappointing, his approach suggests changes he made last year are here to stay. (By @bnicholsonsmith) https://t.co/YPWypp2OEQ
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 27, 2022
The Yankees (+240) passed on splashing the cash this winter, which was a surprising development. New York was believed to be in the market for a new star shortstop, yet the Bronx Bombers’ brass watched most of free agency from the sidelines. With the exception of the trade sending Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela to Minnesota for Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, the Yanks largely stood pat this winter.
The Rays, who finished last season with the best record in the entire American League, are suddenly third-favorites to win the East with +250 MLB division odds. Tampa Bay was reportedly in the mix for Freddie Freeman, but this is another team that abstained from tinkering too much with the roster over the winter. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, they say.
The Red Sox actually advanced further than any other AL East team in last year’s playoffs with a trip to the ALCS before falling to the Astros. The departure of Eduardo Rodriguez in free agency will test the BoSox’ rotation depth, while the bullpen looks like a question mark. The Red Sox’ biggest move was the signing of Trevor Story, which means Boston may simply try to out-slug everyone else on their way to an AL East crown.
Which Team Will Win the AL East?
You can make a compelling argument for any of Toronto, New York, Boston, or Tampa Bay in this division. Given the quality of the lineup and the incredible depth in the pitching staff, it’s hard to ignore the Rays’ long +250 MLB odds to win the division. Tampa Bay has won the East in back-to-back seasons, and I see no reason at all to expect them to fall off in 2022.
I’m not at all sold on the Yankees’ decision to keep last year’s team largely in place, either. The Blue Jays are understandable +165 favorites, but teams that spend big in the winter don’t always rise to the top of the standings right away.
MLB Division Odds 2022 for National League East
The Nationals won the World Series in 2019, yet just three years later they’re suddenly a huge underdog to win their own division. Washington essentially blew up the roster ahead of last year’s deadline. While the great Juan Soto won’t be going anywhere any time soon, it’ll be a while until the Nats find themselves in contention once again.
The Marlins have only made the playoffs three times in their entire existence. While this is an up-and-coming team trending in the right direction, the depth of the National League as a whole will make it difficult for Miami to mount a serious playoff push in 2o22. The Fish have long +1400 MLB division odds for a reason.
So, the NL East will likely come down to the Braves, Mets, and Phillies. Atlanta won the World Series last fall in shocking fashion. In almost equally shocking fashion, Freddie Freeman skipped town and signed with the LA Dodgers earlier this month. The Braves are likely no worse for the wear, however, with former A’s slugger Matt Olson set to replace Freeman at first base for the foreseeable future.
Alex Anthopoulos's spring training interview on how the Matt Olson trade went down for the Braves. pic.twitter.com/uXmVZEiuLZ
— Baseball GIFs (@gifs_baseball) March 23, 2022
Did Atlanta catch lightning in a bottle? Without question. Can they repeat the feat? It’s possible. Let’s not forget the Braves won it all with their best hitter, Ronald Acuna Jr., sidelined with a torn ACL. Acuna is back and ready to roll, and Atlanta still boasts one of baseball’s deepest lineups behind him.
However, the Mets and Phillies are coming for the crown. Thanks to a new owner willing to spend, New York spent most of the offseason stockpiling talent. Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, and Chris Bassitt are among the former All-Stars that will call Queens home starting this season. If Jacob deGrom can stay healthy, the Mets undoubtedly have the most fearsome 1-2 rotation tandem in the sport. Whether the offense can keep pace will likely determine whether the Mets finally end their six-year NL East title drought.
The Phillies haven’t punched a ticket to the postseason since 2011, which was also the last year they won this division. Speaking of spending money, Philadelphia hasn’t been afraid to do that in recent years. This offseason, the Phils added Nick Castellanos, Kyle Schwarber, and Corey Knebel to a roster that already includes $300 million man and reigning NL MVP, Bryce Harper.
Which Team Will Win the NL East?
I understand why the Braves and Mets are co-favorites. MLB betting sites don’t want to risk getting burned on Atlanta for the second year in a row. The Mets are a New York team, which makes them a popular commodity among wagerers, as well.
Philadelphia isn’t lacking in the talent department, with no glaring weaknesses in the lineup. NL Cy Young contenders Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola headline the rotation. Whether the bullpen can hold up is anybody’s guess, but I don’t see much, if anything, separating the Phillies’ roster from that of the Braves or Mets.
American League Central MLB Division Odds
Unlike the East and West divisions, the Central divisions in both leagues look rather underwhelming entering the 2022 campaign. The White Sox cruised to an AL Central title a year ago. BetOnline gives Chicago -185 MLB division odds to repeat the feat this term, as well.
The Twins made the most unexpected move of the winter when they plucked Carlos Correa out of Houston last week. Correa may well skip town after just one season, but his presence is enough to give Minnesota hope of ending its one-year playoff drought this season.
Carlos Correa's first defensive play as a Twin. It's a good one. pic.twitter.com/0h7rUgVmPj
— Michael Schwab (@michaelschwab13) March 27, 2022
Detroit (+700), Cleveland (+1000), and Kansas City (+1600) are all extremely dicey betting options. The Tigers are ready to spend their way back to relevance after signing Javier Baez and Eduardo Rodriguez this winter. There is some promising young talent in the pipeline, but a Wild Card is probably the Tigers’ best hope this season. The Guardians and Royals, meanwhile, may finish among the AL’s cellar-dwellers.
Which Team Will Win the AL Central?
Obviously, this division is the White Sox’ to lose. Chicago is rich in talent in every department, and the front office worked this offseason to make a stellar bullpen even stronger. Michael Kopech will get a chance to replace the departed Carlos Rodon in the bullpen, and we know the Sox will likely rank among the league leaders in many offensive categories if they can stay healthy.
MLB Division Odds for National League Central
The NL Central MLB division odds look a lot like the AL Central odds, don’t they? Milwaukee is a heavy -180 favorite on the National League side, with the Cardinals (+230) looming as the biggest threat. None of the Cubs, Reds, or Pirates have odds more favorable than Chicago’s distant +1100 number.
Postseason success has proven to be elusive to the Brewers in recent years. Milwaukee has made four consecutive playoff trips, though they’ve won just one series in that span. Last year’s squad won 95 regular-season games before flaming out against the Braves in a four-game NLDS upset.
1️⃣1️⃣ days until #Brewers opening day!
Corbin Burnes’ stats in 11 games against the NL Central last season:
5 – 1 WL
— Brewers Stats and Updates (@BrewersStat) March 27, 2022
Pitching isn’t an issue. Reigning NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes is back for another go-round in 2022, while Brandon Woodruff is among the contenders vying for the same award. Freddy Peralta enjoyed a breakout 2021, and the bullpen is among baseball’s best. The offense is a bigger question mark.
The Brewers added some slugging at the expense of defense when they swapped Jackie Bradley Jr. for Hunter Renfroe this winter. Otherwise, Milwaukee is banking heavily on Christian Yelich rediscovering his NL MVP form. Yelich has struggled through injuries over the past couple of years, and the Brewers’ entire offense suffered, as a result. The Cardinals used a remarkable second-half surge to nab an NL Wild Card spot last term, and they’re hoping to climb back to the top of the division this summer.
St. Louis made a couple of minor pickups in Corey Dickerson, Steven Matz, and club legend Albert Pujols, but this is largely the same roster we saw gel over the course of last season. Tyler O’Neill looks like a budding star, while Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt will provide stability at the corner infield spots.
Which Team Will Win the NL Central?
As is the case with the AL Central, we have a deserving odds-on favorite in the NL with the Brewers. I see no reason to believe Yelich can’t enjoy a bounce-back season if he’s fortunate enough to stay healthy. Quality pitching will presumably carry Milwaukee to a second consecutive NL Central crown this year.
American League West MLB Division Odds 2022
The A’s have been relevant over the past couple of years, but Oakland once again decided to pull the trigger on a rebuild this winter. Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Bob Melvin, and Chris Bassitt are all gone, and we likely haven’t seen the last of their big moves before the season begins. Oakland is a good bet to finish at the bottom of the AL West this year, as a result.
Between Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez, Michael Brantley, and Yuli Gurriel, this is still an immensely talented lineup. Replacing Correa at shortstop will be a question mark, but the Astros will continue to rake. Houston also boasts a young rotation around the aging Justin Verlander, who will return after missing all of last year with elbow trouble.
Yordan Alvarez just hit the absolute shit out of a home run to the opposite field off Adam Wainwright. 110.5 mph off the bat.
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) March 28, 2022
The Angels have the next-best MLB division odds 2022 at +400, followed by the Mariners (+450). Los Angeles has made the playoffs just once in Mike Trout’s entire career. This team likely has baseball’s two best players on it, yet it hasn’t amounted to much just yet.
The Halos spent their offseason trying to fortify their pitching staff. Raisel Iglesias is one of baseball’s best closers, while the Angels added Aaron Loup, Archie Bradley, and Ryan Tepera in an attempt to strengthen a former weakness. The Mariners own baseball’s longest playoff drought. Seattle hasn’t played postseason baseball since 2001. They came close a season ago, but ultimately fell shy of a Wild Card berth. In addition to AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray, the Mariners have added Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suarez, and Adam Frazier this offseason. The Mariners now have an intriguing collection of established veterans and young, developing talent.
The Rangers (+1600) spent about $500 million to bring Corey Seager and Marcus Semien to town. You can argue Texas now owns baseball’s best middle infield tandem, but the rest of the roster is very much a work in progress. The Rangers’ offense should be much-improved, but this team won’t make a real run at an AL West title until it gets its pitching in order.
Which Team Will Win the AL West?
The Astros are understandable betting favorites, but the Angels and Mariners both look ready to give Houston a sweat. The Halos have to capitalize on all of that talent at some point, right?
In the end, the Astros still feel inevitable. I’ll believe another team is capable of taking them down when I see it. There is value on the Angels’ and Mariners’ MLB division odds, but the smart money is still on the Astros at -175.
National League West MLB Odds to Win Division
Much like the Rays, the Giants are being disrespected by oddsmakers. San Francisco beat the immensely-talented Dodgers to the NL West title a year ago, yet the Giants suddenly face extremely long +525 odds to repeat the feat. In fact, the Giants don’t even have the second-best MLB division odds to win the NL West title in 2022.
LA lost former World Series MVP Corey Seager in free agency, yet you can argue this team actually improved. The Dodgers inked 2020 NL MVP, Freddie Freeman, to a six-year pact in shocking fashion after he led the Braves past Los Angeles and into the World Series just last fall.
Freddie goes oppo for his first homer of spring! pic.twitter.com/nkCcRbIQps
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 26, 2022
Manager Dave Roberts went as far as to guarantee his Dodgers will win another World Series this year. That sounds like a jinx waiting to happen, but I simply cannot muster a reasonable argument for why this team shouldn’t do just that.
San Francisco lost Buster Posey and Kris Bryant but added Carlos Rodon, Alex Cobb, and Joc Pederson. Joey Bart will finally take over for Posey as the Giants’ new everyday catcher. As was the case last year, we can expect Gabe Kapler’s squad to pitch and platoon its way to wins this summer.
Which Team Will Win the NL West?
This is one of the more fascinating divisions in baseball.
The Padres and Giants would be favored to win most of the other divisions around the sport, but the ultra-rich Dodgers (-225) should be hungry for a title after struggling to live up to expectations last year.
The Padres (+340) and Giants (+525) stand out as good values, but the NL West will run through Los Angeles once again.