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    09/07/2011 10:47 PM
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2013 National League Central Betting Odds, Preview

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The National League Central might look like a one-team race on paper or based on oddsmakers, as the Cincinnati Reds are the favorites to take the division in 2013. The Houston Astros leave the former six-team group and head to the American League. That means most of the teams in the division won't be able to score those wins against the not-so-good Astros. Currently the 2013 National League Central Betting Odds have the Cincinnati Reds favored at -135 (Risk $135 to profit $100) at TheGreek.com.

The division is full of major players this season and the St. Louis Cardinals are just a few years removed from winning the World Series. The Chicago Cubs are under new leadership, the Pirates have one of the better players in the league and the Milwaukee Brewers are a very solid bunch.

Cincinnati Reds (-135) The Reds are by and large the favorite to win the division this year with -135 odds. The Reds nearly made the NCLS last season and won 97 games overall. The team also found a way to go 32-16 during the season while Joey Votto was out of the lineup. The squad lost Drew Stubbs, who was traded for Shin-Soo Choo. But Jay Bruce did lead the team in nearly every statistical category last year and he'll look to have another productive season mashing at the plate. And don't forget about Brandon Phillips, either. He's one of the better second baseman in the league. The rotation gets a boost from Aroldis Chapman who comes over from the bullpen. Johnny Cueto nearly won 20 games in 2012 and Mat Latos led the team in strikeouts. The bullpen is still solid as well. The Reds clearly seem to be the best team in the National League Central.

St. Louis Cardinals (+220) St. Louis will be without ace Chris Carpenter yet again this season as the veteran has been battling injuries the latter part of his career. Kyle Lohse still hasn't figured out what he's going to do, so guys like Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn will have to shoulder the bulk of the Cardinals season. St. Louis really didn't do much to improve the club this off-season, but everybody offensively comes back. Yadier Molina had an amazing season and Allen Craig has filled in nicely at first base for the Cardinals. The outfield is ideal for the group from St. Louis with Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday leading the way as they are middle of the order guys. The Cardinals have proven in the past that they can win when counted out and I wouldn't expect them not to make a run at this thing.

Milwaukee Brewers (+500) The Brewers picked up some pitching depth this off-season but really didn't make a splash in free agency. But then again there wasn't a major player that left the club, either. The Brew Crew won just 83 games last season and for the most part, you'd think the Brewers are looking to move on from last season all-together. Yovani Gallardo lead the rotation, tossing more than 200 innings last year and was the only pitcher to earn double digit wins for the Brew Crew. They'll also look to replace Zack Greinke. Offensively the group is led by yearly MVP candidate Ryan Braun. The club also got a good season from third baseman Aramis Ramirez in 2012. Both guys are looking forward to another positive season at the plate. Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart, who will start the year on the disabled list, will be crucial to the Brew Crew this season.

Pittsburgh Pirates (+1200) The Pirates have 12/1 odds to win the division this season. The club was pretty strong for the first half of last season but dwindled down the stretch, finishing in fourth place with 79 wins. Russell Martin was one of the bigger pickups for the Pirates this off-season in addition to Francisco Liriano, who comes over from the Minnesota Twins. They will look to replace closer Joel Hanrahan. Offensively Pittsburgh is led by Andrew McCutchen, who is one of the best overall players in all of baseball. He mans center field in Pittsburgh and hits in the middle of the order. Garrett Jones has to have a better season for the Pirates while Starling Marte will be at the top of the order getting things started for the club. Look for this team to compete.

Chicago Cubs (+2000) With 20/1 odds to win the division, the Chicago Cubs are considered the longshot in the National League Central. Theo Epstein now is calling the shots for the Cubs, who are looking to no longer be the Lovable Losers everyone seems them as this season. The Cubs won only 61 games last year, dropping 101. They were pretty active in the off-season with notable additions of Edwin Jackson and Nate Schierholtz. The offense is led by youngster Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano was attempted to be traded but is still drawing a check from the Cubs. The rotation has a chance to be solid with guys like Matt Garza, Jackson and Jeff Samardzija leading the way. While Epstein's plan certainly won't happen the first year, look for the Cubbies to improve upon last season's 100-loss campaign.

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