The Duel

Dark Horse MLB Teams That Could Win Their Division in 2020

By michael obermuller
Closer Liam Hendricks' Oakland A's are just one of this year's breakout MLB teams.
Closer Liam Hendricks' Oakland A's are just one of this year's breakout MLB teams. / Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
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With the MLB free agency period wrapping up and Spring Training underway, both the odds of winning each division and the 2020 World Series are also in full swing, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Some divisions have seriously lopsided favorites going into the 2020 season, like the Los Angeles Dodgers (-1000) in the NL West or the New York Yankees (-700) in the AL East, but others are up for grabs. Here are a few dark horse candidates that could take their division by surprise this year.

3. Philadelphia Phillies (+320)

The Philadelphia Phillies very a major disappointment in 2019, but new head coach Joe Girardi could be the man to turn this team around.
The Philadelphia Phillies very a major disappointment in 2019, but new head coach Joe Girardi could be the man to turn this team around. / Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

With +320 odds to win the NL East, the Philadelphia Phillies sit right behind the New York Mets (+280) at fourth in the division by the odds after a very productive offseason. After bringing in veteran head coach, Joe Girardi, a man who has done nothing but win during his tenure in this league, the Phillies also made a splash in the market by signing starting pitcher Zack Wheeler. Whether Wheeler was worth the steep price tag or not is up for debate, but Philadelphia was starved for pitching and got the man they wanted either way. They also added a talented all-around shortstop in Didi Gregorius, at a premium value after a down 2019 season and revamped their bullpen with a plethora of new relief arms. This is a great lineup that already fields J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, and Rhys Hoskins in front of ace Aaron Nola who was an NL CY Young candidate last campaign. Don't forget about Bryce Harper, who is looking to prove he can lead his Fighting Phil's to glory.

2. Cincinnati Reds (+270)

Luis Castillo is one of three possible aces for the Cincinnati Reds.
Luis Castillo is one of three possible aces for the Cincinnati Reds. / Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Reds currently sit at a +270 to win the NL Central, which is practically a toss-up right now by the odds. Similar to the NL East, four teams have a legitimate chance of winning, but the Reds have really gained some steam as a dark horse after adding veterans like third baseman Mike Moustakas, corner OF Nick Castellanos, and SP Wade Miley. They have also signed Japanese free agent target, Shogo Akiyama, who should play center field for the Reds and may even bat lead-off. Starting pitching has been an issue for Cincinnati, but this year's rotation headlines Luis Castillo, Trevor Bauer and Sonny Gray, three pitchers that all have a shot at CY Young candidacy. Closer Raisel Iglesias is another good arm for the Reds, and slugger Aristides Aquino will look to continue on his rookie success. Cincinnati also returns NL MVP candidate Eugenio Suarez, who hit the second-most home runs in the league last season with 49. Don't look now, but 2020 could be the Reds' year.

1. Oakland Athletics (+350)

Sean Manaea is poised for a full season of dominance on the mound.
Sean Manaea is poised for a full season of dominance on the mound. / Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The AL West has been the topic of drama this offseason, most of it stemming from the Houston Astros and their sign-stealing scandal. The Oakland Athletics played their part in this too, when A's pitcher Mike Fiers shed some light on this scandal during his time in Houston. Now the Astros have become the villain of the league, and should face harsh receptions from road fans all season long. If the Astros falter, the next team in line to claim their division title by the odds is Oakland at +340. The A's are a sneaky talented team, with a lineup that sports rising stars like 3B Matt Chapman, 1B Matt Olson and OF Ramon Laureano. Veteran shortstop Marcus Semien is another great piece, as a name that finished third in the 2019 AL MVP voting. Their pitching staff is really where they impress though, with youth and depth throughout. Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas, Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk and Liam Hendriks are just some of the head-turners to keep an eye on in 2020.


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Michael Obermuller is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Michael also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username king_mizzard. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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