2024 MLB odds: Pittsburgh Pirates are underrated pick to win NL Central

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By Will Hill
FOX Sports MLB Betting Analyst

The 2024 MLB season is officially one week old and, as bettors, with every new season comes new opportunity. 

Selecting futures is a tricky science, but there are ways to mitigate risk. One way is to strike on a surprisingly hot team early on, especially if you think you are getting a good price before the market can adjust. 

And after seven days, no team is hotter than the Pittsburgh Pirates

After sweeping the Florida Marlins and defeating the Washington Nationals in D.C. on Monday night, the Pirates are 5-0 as of Tuesday and off to their best start since 1983. 

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Yes, they also started hot last season, winning 20 of their first 28 before finishing 76-86 and fourth in the division, but this feels different. 

Are they a good bet to win the NL Central?

Let’s dive in. 

A wild-card loss to the Chicago Cubs in 2015 capped off the Pirates’ last trip to the postseason in nearly a decade. 

Can that change in 2024? 

Perhaps I’m being a prisoner of the moment, but, why not? After a 5-0 start, the Pirates look poised to at least compete this summer. 

With top pitching prospect Paul Skenes waiting in the wings, it’s possible Pittsburgh has stockpiled enough young talent due to years of ineptitude, where a leap to 80-something wins is realistic. 

Would 85 wins be enough to take home this division? 

That’s the other part of why this is not just a fun bet, but one that is actually worth making: The NL Central is not very good. 

There are a few powerhouses in the National League. The Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers are both expected to win over 100 games, while the Philadelphia Phillies just barely missed consecutive World Series appearances last October.

Fortunately for the Pirates, none of those teams reside in their division. 

The St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds and Cubs are all competitive, yet far from dominant teams. 

Granted, Pittsburgh’s hot start has come against the Marlins and Nationals, but it also hasn’t played at home yet. 

It’s been a week, but the Pirates clearly have a nice stash of young, talented players and if they can continue to develop, flirting with a division title isn’t far-fetched, and at nearly 10-1 is a good bet.

PICK: Pirates (+950 at FanDuel) to win NL Central 

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Will Hill, a contributor on the Bears Bets Podcast, has been betting on sports for over a decade. He is a betting analyst who has been a host on VSiN, as well as the Goldboys Network.

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