English Premier League
The 2023 MLB season will be here before you know it, and with MLB futures markets starting to open up at most sportsbooks for player awards next season, BetQL has you covered on the favorites and long shots to take a stab at for the upcoming season. There is always value to be found on the board, so let's take a look at the best NL Central Division sleeper available.
Everyone loves the St. Louis Cardinals as the team to take home the NL Central Division in 2023, and they have good reason for that. The Cardinals have a ton of talent everywhere you look, but the one thing that they also have, outside of Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, is a very young squad.
What happens if they crumble under the pressure? Perhaps the Cubs are a year or two away from competing for a championship, but winning the division isn't entirely out of reach for Chicago in 2023.
After letting Willson Contreras walk in free agency, they picked up Tucker Barnhart, who is a very underrated catcher. He was brought in for his pitch-framing ability and two-time Gold Glove award-winning defense, and that will really help out where Contreras struggled. Chicago's biggest addition was All-Star Dansby Swanson on a seven-year, $177 million deal. He led the league among shortstops with 21 outs above average and 16 runs prevented. Swanson was trailed by Cubs second baseman Nico Hoerner, who was tied for 2nd with Francisco Lindor, earning 13 OAA and 10 RP. They have two of the best at their positions in the infield.
Left Fielder Ian Happ won a Gold Glove last season and his first All-Star appearance, and former MVP Cody Bellinger is set to play center field every day after he was signed. The Cubs are primed to have the best defense in the National League in 2023. They also added Eric Hosmer to the mix, who was picked up for the league minimum after being designated for assignment by Boston. This group of players will go a long way to not only playing sound defense, but also helping an offense that was stuck in the mud for most of last year.
Still, the way the Cubs ended 2022 was very promising. They had a record of 39-31 over their last 80 games of last season, and they can just build off of that. This was sparked by their starting pitching finishing with a 2.89 ERA, good for second-best in the NL over the entire second half of the season in 2022. Adding in Jameson Taillon will only help make an overlooked staff that much better.
Looking at the rest of the division, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds were both 100-loss teams last season and that doesn't look like it will be changing in 2023 with their current offseasons. Milwaukee hasn't really done much of anything besides trade for William Contreras, who is good, but it doesn't change much. If the Cubs can play like they did in the second half of last season with their new additions, they certainly can win this division.