The addition of the top free agent in baseball this past offseason has put the Philadelphia Phillies in excellent position to win the National League East for the first time since 2011. The big question now is, can Bryce Harper help the Phillies accomplish something he was unable to do as the franchise cornerstone of the Washington Nationals, reach and win the World Series?
Philadelphia is the +175 favorite (bet $100 to win $175) on the NL East division odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, the +450 second choice to take the NL pennant and the +850 fifth choice among World Series contenders – down significantly from +2000.
But Harper is not the only big move the Phillies made for 2019. Before signing him, they added outfielder Andrew McCutchen, shortstop Jean Segura and catcher J.T. Realmuto, who were all viewed as acquisitions that could make Philadelphia a contender on their own. The team’s starting pitching is also solid behind ace Aaron Nola and veteran Jake Arrieta, so adding Harper puts the Phillies over the top as a best bet.
If you compare these moves with those of the six-time defending NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers, it is not even close. Sure, Los Angeles has won the pennant three years in a row and is an overwhelming -400 favorite (bet $400 to win $100) on the NL West division odds to take home another division crown. However, you can get a lot more value on Philadelphia, making that team a better bet. Keep in mind, the Dodgers are barely favored over the Phillies to win the pennant again at +400.
The NL Central is too close to call right now as well considering last year’s successful run of the Milwaukee Brewers, the previous dominance of the division by the Chicago Cubs and the potential return of the St. Louis Cardinals as a serious contender.
The Cubs are slight favorites on the NL Central division odds to take that crown for the third time in four seasons at +200 while the Cardinals are right behind them at +225 after trading for first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and the Brewers are listed as +325 to repeat. Because this division is such a toss-up, it is hard to make any of them a best bet like Philadelphia.