Sunday, March 31, 2013

MLB Predictions: Part V (NL Central)

Welcome to the fifth (of six) prediction posts.  As you all know, I'm a huge Reds fan - but that doesn't necessarily mean I'll predict them to finish in first (or does it).  Let's find out.

NL Central - 2013:
1.  Reds
2.  Cardinals
3.  Pirates
4.  Brewers
5.  Cubs

First, I'm happy that the NL Central now has five teams.  Sure, it'll be a shame to not be able to beat up on the Astros for 17 games a year, but now the remaining five teams have the same 20% chance of winning the division as all the other (non-AL-West) teams have enjoyed since the Wild Card was instituted.  It's about time for equality.  It's also probably time to go to 32 teams and break into division just like the NFL, daily interleague play already annoys me and it hasn't even begun yet.

As for the NL Central - well, yes, I picked my Reds to finish first.  They won the division last year without a healthy Votto (and with a black hole at the top of the lineup).  Votto appears to be healthy (he has at least 4 spring training home runs) and Shin Soo-Choo should be a major upgrade at the top of the lineup.  I expect a better season out of Latos and I truly believe Homer Bailey is due for a major year.

Next, the amazingly consistent St. Louis Cardinals.  The Cardinals appeared to be weakened when they lost Pujols and yet they didn't skip a beat.  This year, the Cards lost Lohse but I see no reason to expect that to affect them much either.  In fact, I doubt Lohse has a very good year...I think the Cardinals didn't offer him any sort of big contract for a reason.

In third, I've slotted the slowly improving Pirates.  As someone who lives in PA, I would like to see the Pirates stop their string of futility (but still finish behind my Reds - state bonds only go so far).  I do think this is the year that Pittsburgh finishes .500 or better.

Fourth place is the Brewers - and they might finish in fifth if Braun gets suspended for cheating.

That leaves the lowly Cubs in the cellar.  I think the Cubs will be a force sooner than later, but not as soon as 2013.  Enjoy that fourth place finish Milwaukee, right now I've got the Cubs beating you in 2014.

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