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Despite Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom being sidelined with injuries, the New York Mets have the best record in the National League and lead the NL East by seven games over the Atlanta Braves.
The Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers have slim leads over their respective Central and West divisions.
Here’s a full breakdown of where each team stands two months into the season:
Would you want to face Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer consecutively? Neither do any playoff teams. If the Mets can get both to the postseason healthy it’s going to be hard to decapitate a deGrom/Scherzer/Chris Bassitt three-headed monster.
For as great as the Mets have been both with the pitching staff and the lineup, both aces are currently injured. Scherzer has weathered more arm usage than anyone in the majors not named Zack Greinke or Verlander.
DeGrom’s superhuman stuff strained his arm last year and will likely renew an ongoing saga as the velocity and slider consequences pile on.
Healthy contributors have picked up the slack and then some so far. Opportunistic hitting has driven in the most runs in baseball, set up by leading the MLB in hits, batting average and on base percentage.
The Mets punch out the second-most batters on the other side of the diamond and place in the top 10 in essentially every relevant pitching category, despite not being at full strength.
A complete Mets team in the October Classic elicits as many jump scares as any classic Halloween movie. Betting on the Mets to win could be a big treat if the dynamic duo getting healthy isn’t a trick.
World Series Potential: It all depends on the health of Scherzer and deGrom. If both are healthy, even the loaded Dodgers won’t want to see New York in the playoffs.
The Braves shocked the world by winning the World Series last year. Losing team captain Freddie Freeman among other pieces chopped the team’s odds of repeating down to a minuscule size.
First baseman successor Matt Olson’s struggles illuminate what a shining star Freeman was in Atlanta for over a decade. Sure, he is only one person in a game where individuals typically can’t cement team success.
However, washing away his production in the lineup and presence in the clubhouse as a steady, leading voice and role model for younger players sends ripple effects through the entire team.
A record several games under .500 for most of this season substantiates that these effects are negative and certainly won’t be conducive to the stability needed for a World Series win.
World Series Potential: The Braves have the talent and lineup to compete but haven’t put it together so far. This could be a value play if you think Atlanta will get hot.
Phillies leader Bryce Harper tears the cover off of countless baseballs. Prolific hitting rubs off on the team that leads MLB in slugging percentage and the NL in batting average.
Solid contact paves the way for the Phillies to be one run shy of entering the top five in total runs.
Like the Phillies’ bats, pitching embodies a bend-but-don’t-break approach. WHIP and ERA collectives leave room for improvement, yet only three teams allow fewer home runs so far. The Phillies play in a weak division so far (with the exception of the Mets), but don’t have much firepower beyond Harper to exploit the schedule.
One man can’t win baseball games and the Phillies can’t win the World Series without a gargantuan boost that isn’t obtainable in one season, let alone a single trading period.
World Series Potential: The Phillies have won the first four games since manger Joe Girardi was fired so that could prove to be the spark they needed to get back in the playoff hunt.
Miami heats daytime tem peratures and nighttime festivities. The Miami Marlins swung a cold bat in 2021 while Miami dancers swing hot hips. The Marlins ranked second-lowest in runs scored, on-base percentage and home runs. The new season authors a different story. The Marlins rank in the top 10 in total bases and batting average. The team finds enough outs on the mound to make the top 10 in most major pitching categories. A concerning lack of power in an era of launch angle and exit velocity denies the team favorable results that currently reflect a 17-19 record.
Consider the team improves, but not indestructible enough to win a World Series.
World Series Potential: As the odds suggest, there isn’t much hope for the Marlins this year but a young pitching staff provides a promising future.
Futures betting blurs the line between gambling and investing. If the objective of this game was picking an optimal growth stock, the Washington Nationals explode in value.
The troubled team unloaded ace Max Scherzer and star shortstop Trea Turner for prospects. Considering franchise player Juan Soto is only 23 himself, the future shines with intense illumination.
Growth stocks derive value from future expected cash flows, but World Series futures betting mandates immediacy. Growing pains disable winnability.
The team struggles in the field and has one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball. The inability to throw on the mound or around the diamond trophies the team’s record to the second-worst in baseball.
The sore lack of veteran leadership creates a reasonable doubt that the wrongs can be corrected this year.
World Series Potential: There isn’t much hope in Washington this season.
The Milwaukee Brewers mix a palatable blend for those desiring to flip beer money into champagne tasting.
The team’s roster includes former MVP Christian Yelich, NL Cy Young favorite Corbin Burnes, dependable speedster Kolten Wong and slugging first baseman Rowdy Tellez.
Opposing batters lose sleep and slash line points when facing the best closer in baseball, Josh Hader. He leads the league with 18 saves. He has surrendered 4 hits all season. The Brewers have handled getting the ball in his hands well so far, posting the sixth-best opponent’s batting average in MLB.
Speaking of closing, the Brewers benefit from shutting down three horrible divisional competitors and there’s a high chance the Cardinals will face durability issues as the season progresses.
Strength of schedule can’t fix the lack of slugging strength the Brewers show relative to MLB powerhouses. That weakness hurts the Brewers’ chances of turning a good season into a great one.
History floors the Brewers too. The team joins only five others in the search for a first World Series ring.
World Series Potential: Milwaukee’s pitching is scary, but count on the Brew Crew making the playoffs and missing out on busting playoff brackets.
Albert Pujols (the oldest player in MLB at 42), Adam Wainwright (the second-oldest pitcher at 40) and the latter’s battery mate Yadier Molina (the oldest pure position player at age 40) combine for 58 seasons of experience to lead the clubhouse while fans party like it’s 2006 after wins.
Wainwright’s curveball looks beautiful and propels him to the top 20 of MLB in ERA. Molina’s defense rubs off on teammates of all ages, helping the Cardinals put out a very impressive defense.
Third baseman Nolan Arenado joins the seasoned-yet-surging slugger list and perhaps the NL MVP chase. Paul Goldschmidt’s peripheral excellence stabilizes first base. The team leads in successful stolen bases.
A few key hindrances make stealing the World Series trophy a strenuous heist. The Cardinals don’t miss many bats relative to elite teams, evidenced by ranking near the bottom in strikeouts and outside of the top 10 in most classic pitching metrics like ERA.
The team’s aforementioned age of core players withers the chances that its hot start at the plate will continue into September and October when fatigue usually sets in.
The youngest manager in baseball handles this wrinkled unit. Playoff baseball becomes a game of bullpen massaging and situational strategy. A final pressure point is the existence of the Brewers at the top of the division.
World Series Potential: The Cardinals will likely compete all year for one of the NL Wild Card spots. If the pitching can get hot in October, look out.
The Pirates are still in a rebuilding stage and have actually competed better than many expected so far this season, but are still a few years away from contention.
The pitching staff is near the bottom of the league in ERA, while the offense is in a similar spot with OPS.
World Series Potential: Not this year in Pittsburgh
Rookie sensation Seiya Suzuki, Frank Schwindel, Patrick Wisdom and Rafael Ortega flash serious potential for a rebuilding team.
The starting pitching ends all hope of a bright future. Now that the “three-headed monster” of Kimbrell, Andrew Chafin and Ryan Tepera has been dismantled, bullpen results trend in a shaky direction.
The volatile hitting outside of the mentioned contributors fails to clean up the mess.
World Series Potential: Only three teams in the National League have fewer wins than the Cubs, so not much.
The Reds stared at the playoffs with hope at the trade deadline last year. The team trailed the leading position in the wild-card race by just 5 1/2 games. The team tripped at the finish line, stumbling from 55-49 at the July 30 deadline, to 83-79 after a passive trading approach that opted for shoring up a still-subpar bullpen.
Everything needs to be shored up now. The Reds carry the worst record and ERA in the NL. The plate provides zero respite for a wilted club that has one of the worst batting averages in the league as well.
World Series Potential: A future on the Reds would be throwing your money away.
Fortune favored the Braves last year, but the odds favor the Dodgers for the Fall Classic in 2022.
Premium dollars buy premium results. The Dodgers ranked second in wins last year with 106 (a franchise record). Swinging for launch angle and exit velocity clears the bases on that path to big success in today’s game.
To that victorious end, the Dodgers also ranked fourth in home runs, runs scored and showed patience when not flexing muscle, as demonstrated by ranking second in bases on balls and fourth in on-base percentage.
Winning teams prevent opponents from achieving the same goals. The Dodgers checked the box of keeping hitters in check better than any team in the league. The stellar pitching staff led the league in runs allowed/ERA and WHIP, while also finishing second in strikeouts. The rich get richer with elite closer Craig Kimbrel ready in relief.
Kershaw is always a big question mark. back and left arm health present big question marks at this advanced stage of his legendary career. He zoomed to a fast start that includes an undefeated record and awesome overall numbers. Injuries ignore statistics and Kershaw is already on the injured list.
Bettors aren’t doctors. However, it isn’t money line malpractice to diagnose temporary rotational and permanent Dave Roberts managerial uncertainty, compounded by a run of underperforming with runners in scoring position in the playoffs.
World Series Potential: The Dodgers are stacked both offensively and with pitching, so it’s hard to see this team losing a playoff series. However, it hasn’t exactly been automatic in the past.
The Padres have the third-most wins in the NL. The bullpen saves the third most games in MLB as well. Manny Machado authors a best-selling MVP case. Fellow star Fernado Tatis Jr.’s projected return from injury in June inspires confidence that an uneven offense will stabilize at the full force of a top-five payroll.
The rich roster caters to power hitting, which isn’t the safest bet during playoff baseball when success hones in on situational management that often points to small ball as the best option. Fall’s windy nature intensifies the anti-home run effects of Petco Park.
The Padres rank outside of the top 10 in most statistics raised by not doing too much at once, including hits and OBP. A good pitching staff will give San Diego a chance in any series.
World Series Potential: Consider the Padres a decent dark horse to gallop to a World Series if fully healthy, but not one of the favorites.
The offseason obliterated the core of 2021’s best team in the regular season. Kris Bryant got a massive contract from the division rival Colorado Rockies.
All-Star starting pitcher Kevin Gausman flew north to the Blue Jays. Buster Posey’s retirement crumbled the stability at catcher he provided through 12 seasons that yielded an MVP and three World Series wins.
Enough talent remains for the Giants to be easily above .500, ranking third in runs scored, seventh in home runs, and fourth in OBP. Only the Yankees limit home runs more effectively than the Giants so far.
That core competency carries extra weight in the current MLB landscape of launch angle and exit velocity obsessions.
The Giants stayed a good team and this is an even-numbered year, but the effects of cornerstones leaving will be felt in the postseason, where poise and adaptability becomes paramount.
World Series Potential: The Giants will be a tough out, but the lack of star power that NL opponents have will likely do them in early on in October.
Diamonds are forever, but the Diamondbacks haven’t been around long. The team is the youngest. Youth provides many benefits, but contending for a World Series misses the list.
The Diamondbacks owned the second-worst record last season, giving up the second-most runs and obtaining the second-fewest strikeouts in the putrid process.
Struggles continued at the plate, as evidenced by a batting average below .215.
Consider the Diamondbacks a garden snake when judging which MLB franchise packs the most vicious venom when sinking its teeth into victory.
World Series Potential: It will be another year without a championship in the Valley of the Sun.
Coors Field inflates the team’s offensive numbers and simultaneously deflates the pitching staff’s stamina. The stadium sits almost one mile above sea level. As a result, air density there is about 15 percent less than at most other major-league stadiums.
Playing under these unique conditions half the season zaps pitching stamina and makes for a tough adjustment for hitters on the road.
The Rockies went 48-33 at home, compared to 26-54 on the road last season.
Colorado currently brings up the rear in an extremely difficult division.
World Series Potential: The Rockies have never won a World Series game, and that won’t change this year.