Another ultra-competitive division will be the N.L. Central, where just like in the East, it’s possible that any of the top four teams could win the division.
St. Louis Cardinals
Division Champions: +220
Regular Season Wins: 86.5
Last season’s return to the postseason featured the one thing every Cardinals fan dreams of – a late season four-game sweep of the Cubs at Wrigley Field to clinch the division.
2020 will see this team contend again because just like Cardinals teams of the past, they have great pitching. Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, and Carlos Martinez are all top arms. The weakness is on offense, where the only sure thing remains first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
Division Champions: +240
Regular Season Wins: 85.5
New manager David Ross takes on the task of rejuvenating the Cubs and ending their slide from their World Series winning high of 2016. He has a veteran rotation, that he used to catch, and a lineup that still has mainstays Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Kris Bryant.
The challenge will be getting Craig Kimbrel back on form to lead an otherwise inexperienced bullpen.
Division Champions: +270
Regular Season Wins: 85.5
Are the Reds really ready to compete after last season’s improvement to 4th place? They do have a fine top of the rotation in Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, and Trevor Bauer. And the offense should be better with the signings of Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos, as well as Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama who hit .302/.392/.471 with the Seibu Lions.
Defense is still a problem, however, and former MVP Joey Votto is really showing his age. With a projected win total of 85.5, the under looks to be the safer bet.
Division Champions: +300
Regular Season Wins: 83.5
Milwaukee won 89 games last year and was actually up in its wildcard game with Washington before eventually blowing that lead. And they’re only a year removed from going seven games in the NLCS. And Christian Yelich is still one of the best players in baseball. So why are there so many concerns about the Brewers?
Because both Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas were allowed to walk in free agency and the pitching staff feels quite thin. Still, keep an eye on 23-year old Keston Hiura. In just half a season as a rookie, he hit 19 home runs with a .938 OPS. Give him a full season hitting in front of Yelich, and his numbers could be eye-popping.
Division Champions: +10000
Regular Season Wins: 69.5
The one team we know will not win the division is the Pittsburgh Pirates. Although they should be better than last season. There is a new team president, new general manager, and new manager Derek Shelton who was the Twins bench coach the last two seasons.
This is still a franchise rebuilding, so don’t be surprised if Josh Bell finishes his season in another uniform. Leftfielder Bryan Reynolds, however, is an untouchable star in the making. Last season he hit .314/.377/.503 and finished 4th in Rookie of the Year voting.
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