Some sports books have released MLB win totals. Over the next few days, we’ll analyze the win totals by division and comments where we see some value. Today, we’ll focus on the National League Central:

The odds-makers are expecting St. Louis’s division dominance to continue. St. Louis traded for Jason Heyward to bolster its outfield. Adam Wainwright may miss Opening Day, but St. Louis has the talent and depth behind him. Many are expecting Chicago to take a big step forward this season, so Chicago is the team to watch in this division.

St. Louis

There’s not much to say about the Cardinals. They’ve been to the NLCS in three straight seasons. They got younger by adding Heyward to an already stocked line-up. Lance Lynn, John Lackey, and Michael Wacha will need to step-up if Wainwright misses significant time. 

Pittsburgh

The Pirates didn’t make many moves, but lost Russell Martin to the Toronto Blue Jays. The odds-makers are projecting a slight win reduction. Despite some recent success, Pittsburgh hasn’t been able to get over the hump in the playoffs. Fans are hoping Starling Marte can take another step forward in 2015.

Chicago

Chicago signed Jon Lester and added Joe Maddon to manage the team. Are these additions worth 10+ wins? 

Milwaukee

Milwaukee is an interesting team. Adam Lind was added to give the line-up more left-handed power. Milwaukee opted to trade away Yovani Gallardo a year before his free agency. Milwaukee also collapsed during September as St. Louis and Pittsburgh passed them.

Cincinnati

Joey Votto  will return and will be the key to Cincinnati’s offense. When healthy, Votto is an MVP candidate. Ace Johnny Cueto will need to have another big season to keep Cincinnati in playoff contention.

Observations:

  • I’m not buying the optimism for Chicago. Chicago has some really good young bats, but will Lester replace (and surpass) the production posted by Sarmardijza? I think Chicago is a year away and don’t expect him to challenge St. Louis, Pittsburgh, or even Milwaukee

Best Bet:

  • Cubs Under 82.5 Wins