Going back to the 2011 All-Star break, nobody predicted that the St. Louis Cardinals would come on strong down the stretch and qualify for the playoffs via the National League Wild Card. only to go on a tear through the postseason and deliver on the biggest stage with a World Series title. That is exactly what they did. Fast-forward to the present and at 60-51 the Cardinals are currently in third place in the National League Central, six games back of the Cincinnati Reds for the division lead, and 3.5 games back of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the final NL Wild Card spot. St. Louis had come on strong of late, winning six of seven before dropping consecutive games to the San Francisco Giants at home. While losing that series is a minor setback, this is a team that still has a ton of talent and at 25/1 online sports betting odds to repeat as World Series champions, the Cardinals are the perfect sleeper pick.
For starters, on top of its recent online sportsbook run St. Louis already has the best run-differential in the majors at plus-99, which is incredible considering that mark is better than teams like the Yankees, Rangers, Nationals, and Giants. The Cardinals’ pitching staff has an impressive job with a combined ERA that ranks in the top-third in the majors and they are third in quality starts, but even more impressive is an offense that ranks first in batting average and second in runs scored. St. Louis has overcome injuries to Chris Carpenter, Lance Berkman, and Rafael Furcal, as well as the departure of Albert Pujols in the offseason, and could be poised to hit its stride when it counts the most.
The road to the postseason won’t be an easy one for the Cardinals, but they will have ample opportunities against the teams they are chasing in the standings before it is all done. St. Louis plays both the Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates six times each, and with 15 games against the Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, and Houston Astros in the NL Central they will have plenty of chances to make up ground. The betting sites numbers show that Cincinnati and Pittsburgh have both overachieved to this point in the season, and while the Cardinals might not be able to close the six-game gap in the division race, last year is proof enough that all they need to do is get in.
The most powerful offense in the NL will give St. Louis a betting chance in any postseason series, and their experience should play a key role considering that none of the Reds, Washington Nationals, or Los Angeles Dodgers have the same level of playoff experience and all three are expected to get in as well. More importantly, the playoffs will allow the Cardinals to cut their rotation from five to three, and the combination of Kyle Lohse, Lance Lynn, and either Jake Westbrook or Adam Wainwright will match up strong against any opponent they face. Nobody respected them a year ago and they went all the way to win the World Series, so don’t sleep on St. Louis when it comes to picking good value in 2012. For all of the updated MLB future odds, be sure to check out the best online betting sites.