2019 seems like such a long time ago. Not even thinking about the pandemic directly, but 2019 was the last time we entered a baseball season knowing exactly what we were getting.
It just so happened that the Washington Nationals winning the World Series that year was the last time we knew what to expect from them, too.
Since the historic World Series victory, the Nationals have experienced injuries and a mass exodus, leaving its World Series win and roster a thing of the past. Gone are Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. Shells of themselves are Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. Undeveloped remain Víctor Robles and Carter Kieboom.
To say the least, 2021 wasn’t a banner year for the Nationals, and 2022 isn’t looking too hot, either.
The 2021 Nationals finished 65-97, which trailed only the Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, and Arizona Diamondbacks for the worst record in baseball. They fell well under their opening betting line of 84.5 wins for the season, and they went into fire sale mode at the trade deadline.
What does 2022 hold in store for the Nationals? Will they be able to recapture their winning ways, or are we in for a repeat performance of 2021?
Nationals Top Betting Odds 2022
Washington Nationals betting odds are current as of Tuesday, March 23 at 5 p.m. ET at Caesars Sportsbook.
- World Series Winners: +15000
- Win National League pennant: +7500
- Win National League East title: +4500
- 2022 Win Total Over/Under: 70.5 (-110)
It’s not surprising to see the odds are against the Nationals for 2022. They have the lowest odds to win their division, doubling the Marlins, who are fourth in the odds at +1400.
Even if you expect the Nationals to outperform their Over/Under of 70.5 wins, they’d need to do so in a major way to make the playoffs.
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Nationals Futures Bets 2022
Nationals To Win NL East (+4500) at Caesars Sportsbook
WAGER: 0.5 Units
I don’t like burning money, so I’m not betting on the Nationals to win the World Series or the National League at all. But I don’t mind a minor bet on them winning the division because stranger things can happen.
With their projected win total, they’d need a lot to go right. The last team to make the playoffs with 82 wins was the 2005 San Diego Padres. An 83-win St. Louis Cardinals team made the playoffs and won the World Series, but that’s 12 and 13 games over their projected total.
The New York Mets have revamped but have an old roster and rotation. The Atlanta Braves won the World Series last year and could have a post-title hangover. The Miami Marlins have the young pitching but no real offense to speak of. And the Philadelphia Phillies have the stars but lack the depth needed to win consistently.
That’s a lot that needs to go wrong for the Nationals to take the division, but stranger things have happened. At these odds, a half-wager is fine.
Nationals To Win UNDER 70.5 Games (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
WAGER: 1 Unit
The wins total is so low that it’s tempting to take the Over here. It’s the fifth-lowest total on Caesars, and when you look at the Nationals roster, it’s easy to understand why.
Their lineup has a lot of holes and question marks in it, and outside of Juan Soto and Josh Bell, there aren’t any bats that legit scare you. Sure, Keibert Ruiz has solid upside, and Lane Thomas popped late last year as a potential 20/20 player for 2022. But even if both of those guys hit, there’s a lot more that needs to break right.
It’s fine to have one or two question marks in your lineup, but when your projected Opening Day lineup has Robles, Kieboom, César Hernández, and Alcides Escobar, you have too many liabilities.
What’s more, the Nationals’ former strength - its rotation - isn’t a strength anymore. Strasburg is coming off Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery, which is notoriously tough for pitchers to bounce back from. See Harvey, Matt.
While I like Josiah Gray this year, I’m not confident that he makes up for the deficiencies that Corbin, Josh Rogers, Joe Ross, and Paolo Espino have to round out the rotation. Even if Cade Cavalli gets called up sooner rather than later, he alone won’t be enough to push the Nationals above 70.5 wins.
Hit the Under and hit it hard.
Nationals Player Prop Bets 2022
Juan Soto To Win 2022 NL MVP (+300) at Caesars Sportsbook
WAGER: 1 Unit
The torch has been passed from Mike Trout to Soto as the best hitter in baseball. But unlike Trout, who agreed to a long-term deal to remain with the Los Angeles Angels, Soto could be leaving Washington when he’s a free agent after the 2024 season after turning down a 13-year, $350-million offer from the Nationals in February.
While his team isn’t good, it didn’t stop Soto from producing like an MVP candidate last year in his aged-22 season. Soto posted a .313/.465/.534 triple-slash with 29 home runs, 206 runs + RBIs, for a 163 wRC+.
Soto does everything the voters love, including walking at an absurd clip (22.2 percent in 2021). While the Nationals will be bad, the projection models expect Soto to improve his counting stats and hold firm on his triple-slash line.
Three out of the last four MVPs (Shohei Ohtani, Bryce Harper, and Trout) in a full 162-game season came from teams who didn’t make the playoffs. Soto is ahead of Ronald Acuña Jr. as the odds-on favorite in the National League, and he’s my pick of the two to take it home.
Cade Cavalli To Win 2022 NL Rookie of the Year (+2000) at Caesars Sportsbook
WAGER: 0.5 Units
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, there will be “draft pick incentives for Clubs who promote top prospects and avoid service time manipulation.” So even for a floundering team like the Nationals, they could call up Cavalli sooner than we think.
The American League is loaded with top prospects, and it’s going to be a fight to see who takes the award home there. In the National League, though, it’s more wide open.
O’Neil Cruz (+400) is the favorite, but besides him, none of the others seem more likely to win it than Cavalli does. Cavalli struggled in Triple-A for the Nationals in 24.2 innings, but he breezed through Single-A and Double-A with enormous strikeouts rates (44.9 and 32.9, respectively).
He’s a four-pitch pitcher with dominant stuff, but the strikeout rate dipped at each stop last year, ending up at sub-20 percent in Triple-A. Cavalli will need to show that he can handle the advanced hitters there before getting called up to Washington, but he could be a dark horse Rookie of the Year candidate if he can.
Josh Bell: UNDER 100.5 RBIs (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook
WAGER: 1 Unit
RBIs are hard to project because there’s so much out of the player’s hands when it comes to driving in runs. What’s working in Bell’s favor is that he has Soto hitting directly in front of him, and Thomas and Hernández can both get on base, too.
But in the four full seasons that Bell has played, he’s gone over this number just once. Of the seven big projection models, only two - ZiPS DC and FGDC - have him projected to eclipse 100 on the year.
Bell makes a lot of hard contact - 93rd percentile in Hard-Hit rate, 92nd percentile average exit velocity - but he also hits the ball into the ground far too often for my liking.
In his career - four full seasons - here is where Bell ranks in GB%:
- 2017: 15th worst (51.1 percent)
- 2018: 28th worst (48.5 percent)
- 2019: 48th worst (44 percent)
- 2021: 8th worst (53.5 percent)
What’s more, his average launch angles last year were the sixth-worst in baseball (4.9 degrees). I don’t trust the profile enough for Bell to hit the Over, making this a fairly easy fade.