Three NL Sleeper Teams That Could Sneak Up in 2020

By Michael Wynn in MLB
| April 17, 2020 1:58 am PDT
MLB NL Pennant Sleepers

We know the Dodgers are going to be tough. I picked the Braves to win the NL Pennant, and it’s not hard to make a case for why the Nationals or the Cubs could be headed to the 2020 World Series.

Who are the other teams we expect to contend in the NL?

Well, predicting the Phillies or Cardinals as the last team standing in the National League wouldn’t really be going out on a limb, and the Mets’ +1000 price tag suggests that they’re also one of the favorites.

So who are the NL Pennant sleepers that actually have a chance? Who are the under-the-radar teams who have what it takes to make it to the Fall Classic?

I can think of three.

Cincinnati Reds (+1400)

When I generated my NL Central betting preview, I wasn’t shy about expressing my belief that the Reds could win their division in 2020. Big-time money was spent luring in Mike Moustakas and Nicholas Castellanos, and let’s not underestimate the importance of these transactions.

Moustakas is a left-handed-hitting utility infielder who has clubbed 101 homers over the last three seasons. Castellanos can play the hot corner or right field and led the Majors with 58 doubles in 2019.

It’d be one thing if they were the only newcomers in Cincy who are going to provide a positive impact right away, but that’s not the case.

Shogo Akiyama won’t ring any bells to the casual MLB fan, but here’s what you can expect to see from the new leadoff hitter in Cincinnati.

Shogo Akiyama – Numbers in the Japan Pacific League

Year Games Played Batting Average Doubles Home Runs Stolen Bases
2017 143 .322 38 25 16
2018 143 .323 39 24 15
2019 143 .303 31 20 12

Nobody pays attention to the fact that Eugenio Suarez smacked 49 homers last year, and people are still sleeping on Luis Castillo being a premier starting pitcher. Should Joey Votto return to form and Trevor Bauer contribute as he did in Cleveland, forget about just winning the NL Central.

The Reds can start setting their eyes on capturing the NL Pennant.

Milwaukee Brewers (+1800)

Craig Counsell heads into the 2020 campaign with a completely revamped roster. As many as six new everyday starters joined the Brewers dugout over the offseason, which doesn’t even include valuable reserves like Brock Holt and Jedd Gyorko.

The arrivals of Justin Smoak and Avisail Garcia could push Ryan Braun into a platoon role at first base and left field, so it’s clear that depth isn’t the problem in Milwaukee. The question mark surrounding the Brew Crew is how reliable the starting rotation will be. Perhaps we’ll see Counsell revert to his strategy of beginning games with relievers, but there’s no doubt he’ll need to get creative.

While it may seem that this squad is overmatched on paper, let’s not forget that this team was a playoff team in 2018 and 2019. The Brewers have won 86 or more regular-season games for three straight seasons, and Christian Yelich is arguably the best five-tool player in baseball.

Milwaukee is listed at +1400 to win the NL Pennant at most of the top MLB betting sites, but their +1800 price tag at MyBookie might just be worth a look.

San Diego Padres (+2200)

Like Milwaukee, San Diego is another NL sleeper you may want to take a flier on at MyBookie. The Padres’ odds to win the NL Pennant offer a nice chunk of upside on the back end if things were to pan out. However, know that this wager comes with a warning for “buyers beware.”

This is a franchise that hasn’t won more than 77 games since 2010. Backing the Pads to do damage in the NL isn’t for the faint of heart, but here’s what I can offer.

Fernando Tatis Jr. exploded as a rookie, flashing all sorts of speed and power. His .317 batting average tells me it won’t be long until he emerges as one of the best players in the sport. Manny Machado is due for a bounce-back year, and I love that A.J. Preller went out and acquired Tommy Pham to help solidify the outfield.

More importantly, this pitching staff is quietly improving.

  • Chris Paddack is a genuine Cy Young candidate in the NL
  • Garrett Richards looks like he’s finally healthy
  • Zach Davies arrives to eat up some innings
  • Kirby Yates was the best closer in baseball a season ago

For the first time in a while, fans in Petco Park might actually have something to cheer about.

More MLB Betting Tips

If you want to switch gears and preview the betting favorites in the National League, check the top link below. For those more intrigued by the AL, I’ve included guides to the American League Pennant odds and AL sleepers as well.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the 2020 MLB season to get underway!

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