Major League Baseball: Shohei Ohtani factor makes Dodgers big favourites

 | February 23 | 

4 mins read

World Series trophy Major League Baseball

Baseball is back. There might well be high-profile free agents still waiting to find the right deal for 2024, but Spring Training games have begun and the new Major League campaign can begin to take shape ahead of the opening regular-season fixtures on March 28.

Last week we brought you the runners and riders in the American League pennant race, and here we bring you a closer look at the National League contenders. Even with Shohei Ohtani arriving at Chavez Ravine, the Los Angeles Dodgers are not the only potential champions in the older league… 

National League Champions Odds

  • Los Angeles Dodgers - 5/2
  • Atlanta Braves - 7/2
  • Philadelphia Phillies - 6/1
  • New York Mets - 14/1
  • Arizona Diamondbacks - 14/1

Los Angeles Dodgers – 9/2 for World Series, 5/2 for NL pennant

The Dodgers have spent the off-season trying to build the best baseball team since the 1927 New York Yankees. There was the small matter of Shohei Ohtani’s headline-grabbing 10-year, $700m acquisition, plus the arrival of another Japanese megastar in Yoshinobu Yamamoto on a 12-year, $325m contract.

With Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Max Muncy existing threats in their lineup and Tyler Glasnow being added to a rotation now boosted by a new one-year agreement with future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers are bursting with quality.

While Ohtani won’t be pitching in 2024, his bat alone helps to elevate them to runaway favourites to win the lot this season.

Los Angeles Dodgers to win World Series @ 9/2

Atlanta Braves – 13/2 for World Series, 7/2 for NL pennant

Ronald Acuna Jr. Ozzie Albies. Matt Olson. Marcell Ozuna. Austin Riley. Jarred Kelenic. When you have that quality in your projected everyday lineup, you’ve got every chance of being involved when hardware is handed out.

The Braves’ starting rotation will have a big say in whether they can win the lot, though. They have experienced hurlers in Charlie Morton and Chris Sale, the latter an off-season pickup from the Boston Red Sox, as well as the tried-and-tested Max Fried and big young hopes in Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder.

Strider could become a true leader this year after a career-high 186.2 innings pitched in 2023, and another consistent season from him could be huge for the Braves.

Philadelphia Phillies – 12/1 for World Series, 6/1 for NL pennant

The Phillies snuck into the play-offs by the back door in 2022 and came within two wins of walking off with the World Series, but blew 2-0 and 3-2 leads in the National League Championship Series last year to drop short of back-to-back visits to the Fall Classic.

They're rightly fancied to be in the shakeup again in ’24 though. Even the fact they share a division with the Braves shouldn’t put off backers since there are extra wild card places available these days.

Aaron Nola’s seven-year renewal is a very big deal, and the presence of Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner and J.T. Realmuto among their everyday lineup makes them a great bet to go deep in the postseason once more. 

New York Mets – 25/1 for World Series, 14/1 for NL pennant

In a tough NL East division with the Braves and Phillies looking primed for challenges, the Mets have made the understandable decision to hold onto their cards.

After a horrific May and June last year, the front office made the decision to be sellers at the trade deadline, meaning they no longer have starting pitching gods like Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, nor closer David Robertson.

There’s a mini-rebuild at the very least to be done at Citi Field, and the priorities this year will be forming a stronger defence and padding out their bullpen while they wait for the batch of prospects they reeled in last summer to come good.

They’re an outside bet at best, depending on them gaining a wild card spot.

Arizona Diamondbacks to win NL pennant @ 14/1

Arizona Diamondbacks – 25/1 for World Series, 14/1 for NL pennant

Whoever had the Diamondbacks to go all the way to the World Series last year deserves a medal. Following three consecutive losing seasons, and five without play-off baseball, the D-Backs busted a lot of myths to clinch the final wild card place and turn over the Milwaukee Brewers, Dodgers and Phillies to reach the Fall Classic.

Such was the never-say-die attitude of the plucky underdogs, they were coined the ‘Answerbacks’ in some quarters, but they will need similar moxie in 2024 if they are to repeat such feats.

They’ve lost Evan Longoria, Tommy Pham, and Mark Melancon from their pennant-winning roster but Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is back on a three-year, $42m contract and Joc Pederson has signed a one-year, $12.5m deal which smells a lot like the agreements the outfielder has signed with the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants in recent seasons.

This might not particularly look like a league-winning lineup, but then people thought that 12 months ago, and in Zac Gallen they have a pitcher who in his last outing was no-hitting the Texas Rangers for six innings in Game 5 of the World Series. Keep one eye out for the Snakes.

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