The National League Central isn’t a division you think about when you think about powerhouses, but it features a couple really good teams who made it into the playoffs last season.
It wasn’t a big offseason in the Central except for the loss of the Astros. Man, they’re gonna miss those guys!
2013 should be much like 2012, but hey, what do we know. Here’s how STT sees the NL Central shaking out.
[Division Rank. Team (2013 W/L Prediction, 2013 Preseason Power Ranking]
5. Chicago Cubs (68-94, 25)
The Cubs are on the right track and their pitching staff isn’t half bad. They’re a year or two away and they have some players worth watching on the north side of Chicago, notably one of my favorites, Anthony Rizzo at first base. With Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer at the helm, the Cubs are heading back to prominence, but it won’t be this year.
4. Milwaukee Brewers (79-83, 19)
The Brewers are a lot of people’s pick to surprise in 2013. They have a pretty good offense, but I can’t get behind their pitching depth and man, the bullpen looks pretty weak. They have one of the game’s best players in Ryan Braun and some other players who could make the Central interestiof the game’y one of my favorites, Anthong if they can produce at career levels. The Brew Crew won’t be embarrassing by any stretch, but I don’t see them contending in a meaningful way.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates (82-80, 21)
This is the year! The Pirates are going to finish above .500. They will. Don’t get me wrong, this is a team with a lot of upside, but not a lot of players who are sure to produce. If they can get some life shot into them from the farm system, the Pirates should be good enough to hang on the peripheries of the playoff race before falling off down the stretch again.
2. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cards are a really good team with a lot of pitching depth and a well-rounded offense. They also have some sort of deal with a higher power given the way the last two postseasons have gone for them. Even without Chris Carpenter in the fray, they’re still a great team with a lot of good players.
1. Cincinnati Reds (92-70, 6)
If the Cardinals are really good, the Reds are great. They’re average or better everywhere on the field and their rotation was excellent last season and has Aroldis Chapman coming to make it even better. You wonder about the outfield defense with Choo in center, but other than that, this is a team that looks like it could only be stopped by injuries. Plus, have you guys seen Joey Votto. That dude is incredible.
NL Central Cy Young: Adam Wainwright
NL Central MVP: Joey Votto
Most Potentially Pivotal Player: Rickie Weeks
Storyline that Will Surprise Us: Choo will survive center.
Boldest of the Bold: Anthony Rizzo will finish in the top ten of the MVP race.