- The Phillies were +295 to win the NL East when the odds first opened on Feb. 5, tied for third-best in the division with the Mets
- Now, Philadelphia is +373 on average – and as long as +485
- Is now the time to jump on the Phils odds to win the NL East?
The Philadelphia Phillies started as +295 favorites to win the NL East title in 2020 – something the franchise hasn’t done since winning the last of five straight in 2011 – on Feb. 5 when the odds first opened.
That number put them as a third-favorite for the ultra-competitive division with the New York Mets. But now, the franchise is sitting at +373 – and going as long as +485.
Can Bryce Harper lead the Phillies to a division title in his second season at Citizens Bank Park?
Odds to Win 2020 National League East
|New York Mets||+290|
Odds taken Feb. 26
So, why the fade on the Phillies? Nothing dramatic has happened two weeks into Joe Girardi’s first camp with the club. Really, with all due respect to what Girardi’s former shortstop with the Yankees is doing on South Beach – the only thing that seems to be a lock in the top-heavy NL East is that Derek Jeter’s Marlins have no shot to win it.
Beyond that, the division seems wide open. And the 2020 NL East odds reflect that, as the top four contenders are tightly bunched. Let’s further investigate Philly’s peculiar movement and advise.
The Harper Effect
While 2015 National League MVP Bryce Harper’s first season in The City of Brotherly Love wasn’t horrible, slashing .260/.372/.510 while hitting 35 homers and playing in 157 games, the former Nationals star’s individual success didn’t translate to the team.
But when you sign a 13-year, $330 million contract, expectations can be slightly inflated. And the optics aren’t great when your former team is winning a World Series – in the first year after you leave.
But, according to a great piece by longtime Phillies beat guy Todd Zolecki on MLB.com, Harper is truly all-in with this franchise.
I’m not buying the “Bryce Harper #Cooler” theory. While he’s not on Mike Trout or Christian Yelich’s level – by the way, how many postseason series have those guys won? – Harper can be a catalyst for a championship club.
Perhaps the Philly fade can be attributed to high hopes for the Braves, Mets and Nats.
While Freeman is justifiably optimistic about Atlanta’s 2020 prospects, the veteran first baseman will rest his inflamed right elbow until next week. If healthy, the Braves look like a definite threat to repeat as champs and are deserving of favorite position.
Washington is obviously also a force to be reckoned with. The reigning World Series champs have one of the best 1-2 punches in baseball at the top of their rotation in Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, and one of last October’s breakout stars in Juan Soto.
At +238 average odds, they’re not far off the Braves’ pace.
Did someone say 1-2 punch? Mets fans will tell you Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard are right there too. And when you factor in a lineup that boasts young talent like reigning NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis, it’s easy to get excited.
As a consensus +273 bet, the Mets are formidable. At the end of the day, these three teams are legit – and a legit reason why the Phillies odds have fallen.
Even with the Braves, Mets and Nationals’ combined roster talent, Philadelphia’s matches up quite nicely against its division rivals. While no position player had a higher batting average than Jean Segura’s .280 last season – which is troubling – I look for a bounce back season for players like Rhys Hoskins and Maikel Franco.
The true wild-card is Jake Arrieta. If his knee and elbow issues are behind him – and so far so good in 2020 – the Phillies have more than a solid 1-2 punch in Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler.
They feature a 1-2-3 punch that few in baseball can match. Yes, the bullpen has question marks. But this could end up being a surprise season. And Girardi knows how to get the most of his teams.
If you’re looking for a small investment wager, the Phillies to win the NL East are a worthwhile place to start.
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