As the 2016 Major League Baseball season gets underway, expectations are tempered among the Cincinnati Reds faithful.
The Reds amassed a dismal 64-98 record a year ago, good for dead last in the National League’s Central Division standings, and with offseason moves clearly putting the club in rebuild mode, the Reds open their campaign pegged at a distant 125/1 to claim their first World Series pennant since 1990 in MLB futures betting with the online bookmaker Betway.
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Cincinnati unloaded some key veterans during the recent offseason, pulling the trigger on deals that saw all-star third baseman Todd Frazier shipped to the Chicago White Sox, while all-star closer Aroldis Chapman will be wearing pinstripes this season, while saving games for the New York Yankees.
The Reds will also be missing ace Johnny Cueto, whom they shipped to the Kansas City Royals midway through last season.
First baseman Joey Votto, who finished third in NL MVP balloting in 2015 returns to the Reds’ lineup, and Billy Hamilton looks ready to take the next step, both as a speedster on the baselines, and as a Gold Glove candidate in center field.
Not all is lost in Cincy, however. Starter Homer Bailey continues to recover from Tommy John surgery that cost him almost all of last season, and is reportedly on track to return by the All-Star Break, while 24 year-old hurler Michael Lorenzen will get every chance to secure a place in the Reds rotation upon his return from an elbow injury.
Complicating matters further for the Reds is playing in what is arguably the best division in Major League Baseball.
The Chicago Cubs, who open the campaign as 8/1 World Series favorites in MLB futures betting at Betway, are also heavy 3/4 chalk to claim the NL Central pennant.
The St. Louis Cardinals claimed division crowns in each of the past three seasons, and MLB Postseason berths in each of the past five seasons. But with the Cards losing both starter John Lackey and outfielder Jason Heyward to the rival Cubs, they have seen their divisional pennant odds at Betway slip to 5/2.
The Reds must also contend with a talented Pittsburgh Pirates squad, which won an impressive 98 games last year en route to a third straight NL Wild Card berth, and return to the ballpark sporting short 3/1 odds to win their first division crown since 1992.
The Milwaukee Brewers have been in steady decline since claiming their last NL Central pennant in 2011, winning just 68 games last season, and are pegged at a distant 40/1, while the Reds trail as 50/1 longshots.