The Los Angeles Dodgers have been called the favorites to win the NL pennant and the World Series this year.
According to Matt Snyder of CBS Sports, oddsmakers at Bovada have the Dodgers as a 15-4 favorite to win the World Series and a 7-5 favorite to win the NL pennant.
You may notice that the Dodgers are the only NL team in the top three, and one of just two in the top five.
The NL is being deemed the weaker of the two leagues by oddsmakers, which is why the Dodgers appear to be such favorites to win the pennant.
Here's the table of odds concerning the NL pennant:
As you can see, the Dodgers are runaway favorites to win the pennants, with the only team that's even close to them being the Atlanta Braves.
Should the Dodgers really be considered to be such heavy favorites when they're tied for the third-best record in the NL? Absolutely.
The Dodgers' record isn't indicative of how well they've played since the All-Star break.
The team was once in the basement of the NL West but now has a commanding lead over the other four teams. The Dodgers could clinch the NL West on Wednesday with a win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Win tomorrow. Win the West. #Dodgers— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 18, 2013
The Dodgers have undergone one of the greatest midseason turnarounds in sports history. After sitting in the cellar of the NL West in the first half, the team has gone 35-8 in the second half, posting the best winning percentage after the All-Star break in history.
Thanks to an explosive offense led by Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and more, the team has been able to back one of the best starting rotations in baseball.
That starting rotation is a big reason why the Dodgers are considered such big favorites to win the NL pennant. The team has arguably the best three-man rotation in the game today, with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
These three guys have all been pitching like aces this season, and facing these three is a difficult task for any team.
While the NL has some of the best pitchers alive today, no team in the league has as good a starting three as L.A.
Apart from the Dodgers' excellence, a lack of true competition leads the team to be such an overwhelming favorite.
While the Atlanta Braves have the best record in the NL, they are far from the best team.
The Braves will be without Tim Hudson for the rest of the season after breaking his ankle. The team has also had its outfielders struggling for much of the season. B.J. Upton has been one of the biggest disappointments of the 2013 free-agent class, while Jason Heyward underwent surgery less than a month ago and is on the disabled list.
Even if the Braves were at full health, they have been too streaky to be considered a safe bet in the postseason.
After starting the season 12-1, the Braves simmered for a while. They then had a 14-game winning streak later in the season but cooled off after it ended.
If you take away these two outliers from the Braves' season, they are sitting at 63-61 this season. Atlanta has been barely a .500 team for much of the year, and without another magical run, the team could be eliminated in the NLDS.
The Braves haven't proved that they can consistently challenge the Dodgers, which leaves the three teams from the NL Central.
The St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds have been fighting for control of their division all year long. All three will likely make the playoffs, but two will have to play in the NL Wild Card Game.
If the season ended today, the Dodgers would play the winner of the NL Central in the NLDS. That team would be the Cardinals, who are the biggest threat to the Dodgers this season.
While the Dodgers have a fantastic three-man rotation, the Cards have one of the best one-two punches in baseball with Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller.
Wainwright's precision and control make him deadly, while Miller's power and ability to challenge hitters make him a perfect complement.
However, Miller has been nearly as streaky as the Braves this season. While he dominated three of his first five months, he has also struggled badly in the other two.
Miller is hit or miss, and his performance this year has been largely determined by the caliber of team he's pitching against.
In games against teams that are .500 or better this season, Miller has posted an ERA of 5.06 this season. The Dodgers have put together a great offensive push in the second half, which has been a big reason why they've been so dominant. Even facing an ace like Miller shouldn't slow them down too much.
The Dodgers appear to be the favorites in a potential series with the Cardinals, and with the Braves being too inconsistent to make a deep run, the only other teams challenging L.A. are Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
While these two teams have had great years, the oddsmakers consider them to be nonentities. The biggest challengers in their minds are the Braves and Cardinals, and the Dodgers have a clear edge over both of them.
The Dodgers appear to be destined to win the NL pennant, and the oddsmakers got it right. They are certainly heavy favorites to go to the World Series.