NL Central Predictions

It’s that time of year again, everyone… predictions!!! 99% of all predictions made are what we in the biz like to call WAGs, or, Wild Ass Guesses. Sure, we may get lucky and hit every now and then, but that’s just the law of averages playing into our hands. And let’s be honest here for a second, all these are for is so at the end of the year if I get one single prediction even sort of right, I get to scream “I TOLD YOU SO” at all of you. So, without further adieu, let’s do this.

5th Place: Cincinnati Reds (61-101)

mr-red

The Reds were plenty bad last year, finishing at 68-94, which was good enough for dead last in the NL Central. And I think they will be worse this year. They traded of Brandon Phillips (possibly my least favorite player of all time) and they will look to be in sell everything mode, much like the 2012 Cubs. Sure, they have some solid young pieces in the farm system, but those guys are still a ways away from doing anything significant in the majors. I would be shocked if the Reds were any good.

 

4th Place: Milwaukee Brewers (76-86)

brewers

The Brewers weren’t good last year, despite giving the Cubs plenty of trouble at times, finishing the year at 73-89, but they certainly had some flashes and they got some of their young guys some much-needed playing time at the big league level. I think the Brewers are a team that will hang around and fight and scrap and claw in every game, but they just aren’t ready to compete with the big boys. That might be a different story in 2018, but for now they still have a way to go. They could certainly be a fun team to watch, though, and they are a team to keep your eye on for the future.

 

3rd Place: St. Louis Cardinals (83-79)

2281

Now, the Baseball Prospectus PECOTA projections set the Cards in with the same record as the Brewers at 76-86 and finishing 4th in the Central, but I don’t buy that. Sure, they already lost their young stud and Rookie of the Year favorite, Alex Reyes, for the season, but they are the freaking Cardinals, and that’s usually enough to get them over .500. They added my man crush, Dexter Fowler (sad face), which will certainly help their outfield, and they retained everyone else except Matt Holliday, so they will still be in pretty good shape. I look for them to compete and probably be buyers at the deadline, looking for an arm and maybe a 3rd baseman for their final playoff push. Unfortunately for them, I think they will fall just short.

 

2nd Place: Pittsburgh Pirates (85-77)

pittsburgh-pirates-mlb-baseball-round-area-rug

Despite a disappointing season in 2016 where they finished below .500 and out of the playoffs at 78-83, I expect the Pirates to come out gunning for the Cubs. I think McCutchen will have a resurgence amid all of the trade talk, and he will insert himself right back into the MVP discussion, where he’d been for the last several years prior to 2016. The Pirates will be good, they still have a ton of young talent, especially in the out field, and I think they will push the Cubs until late in the season. Expect the Pirates to look for a starting pitcher they can buy near the trade deadline, and if they get a good one, they could be a serious threat. This is a scary team. SPOILER ALERT: They are my pick for a Wild Card spot in my playoff predictions (shameless self promotion) coming later this week.

 

1st Place: Your defending World Series Champion, Chicago Cubs (89-73)

pure-joy
FYI, I have this picture saved as “Pure Joy” on my computer

We all knew this was coming. And before you yell at me, yes I have my reasons for picking them to lose 15 more games than last year. 1: maybe expect a little bit of a championship hangover? Now I’m not saying this team won’t be hungry for another title, but with the pressure gone and no curse to be, there may be a slight let down. 2: Center field struggles? With Dexter Fowler gone, who plays Center? I’m guessing Almora and Jay. Almora has a great glove, we all know that, but is a bit of a question mark at the plate. Jon Jay, at this point in his career is probably replacement level, at best. And 3: injury/pitching concerns. This team has been very, very fortunate over the last two years with injuries, aside from the Schwarber injury early last year. There really were no other major injuries, aside from a couple to Rondon and Strop that kept them out for a bit late in the season. It’s only a matter of time until the Cubs catch the injury bug (please don’t yell at me if this happens), because it happens to every team. Especially the starting rotation, which has been shockingly healthy the last couple years. Also, it will be interesting to see how the Cubs replace Monty in the bullpen, assuming he secures that 5th rotation spot. Look for Addison Russell to have a break out season. I think he’s ready.

 

That’s all for today, hope you enjoyed the post. Please, feel free to share your predictions in the comments section!

 

I will have at least 2 more posts this week, 1 for playoff predictions (more WAGs) and a 2nd awards prediction. So stay tuned!

Also hoping to launch a podcast close to opening day, so if you guys have ideas/suggestions/want to be involved, let me know!

 

 

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