Over the last couple weeks, you’ve seen the STT Seasons in Review for each of the six NL Central teams that gave brief overviews of each team’s biggest contributors and how their seasons went. I gave each club a letter grade for 2012 and a rough projection of how I see them stacking up in 2013.
Today, I want to review the division as a whole and paint a broad picture about what it looks like going forward (See you never, Astros!).
This is how things went in 2012:
And here’s how the Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds looked from April to October.
The Reds took over by July and the Cardinals pretty much stayed in Wild Card position for most of the season. Each of the Brewers and Pirates made a run at it at different points, but neither could really close the deal. Needless to say, the Cubs and Astros did not really factor into the race.
The NL Central is one of the lesser divisions in the game, but the offense from the Reds, Cards, and Brewers was pretty good. Match that with a Pirates club on the rise and some good pitching from a couple of these teams, and what we really have is a division dragged down by the bottom feeders.
The Reds and Cardinals are good teams. The Brewers are talented but have damaging holes. The Pirates are becoming competitive, but still haven’t become a threat. The Cubs and Astros are a mess. One of these teams is leaving next year, so the division as a whole might get a little better by subtraction.
My bet is that the division will look pretty similar in 2013 when it’s all said and done. Here is my early projection, which is subject to change throughout the offseason:
The key variable here is that these teams have to pick up some wins that normally came at the expense of the Astros in order to keep these win totals up. I guess I’ll have to look at this more closely as I fill in the sheet with the rest of the divisions.
The NL Central MVP goes to Ryan Braun over Yadier Molina and the Cy Young belongs to Johnny Cueto.
Here’s a final summary of the NL Central 2012 Grades and Win totals:
All and all, another fine year in the pitcher-bats-9th Midwestern United States led by the Reds and Cardinals.