As 2022 wraps up, a lot of us have been looking to the future. It feels like baseball ended forever ago and that has all MLB fans reminiscing. The World Baseball Classic is still some ways away, so let’s project the NL Central standings for the 2023 season.
The beauty of projecting the standings this far in the future is that a trade or signing could happen that changes everything. For now, let’s all just hope our divisional rivals sit back and do not make any moves.
No. 1, St. Louis Cardinals
It was a rollercoaster 2022 season for the St. Louis Cardinals. They went from a scary first-half where the playoffs were a question mark, to a phenomenal second-half with a lot of history. St. Louis was the lone 90-win team in the NL Central with 93 and looks to be right around that mark in 2023.
Offense will carry this team all year. Pitching is where this team could see some struggles. In what should be very tight at the top of the division, that problem needs to be resolved sooner rather than later.
No. 2, Milwaukee Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers benefit from the fact that the NL Central is the weakest division in all of MLB. Teams in the Midwest do not have the big bucks, so it really could be any team’s year.
It seems the Josh Hader curse may finally be lifted off this franchise as they pursue the pennant in 2023. All eyes will be on the pitching staff led by Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff if they want to take the division crown. Really, this division is a two-team race and it could be decided by a coin flip.
No. 3, Chicago Cubs
What a weird offseason it has been for the Chicago Cubs. They had a very poor first-half performance last season and decided it was time to begin the farewell tour for their All-Star catcher in Willson Contreras. Chicago happened to string some wins together and actually had a very quality second-half of the year. Finishing the season winning eight of their last 10 games is impressive. They have also been spenders this offseason acquiring the likes of Dansby Swanson.
It is not 2016 anymore, but the Cubs will be relevant in 2023. It was a fun season for St. Louis Cardinals fans dominating them, but it will be a lot more competitive this time around. Do not be shocked if the Cubs are battling for the division title.
No. 4, Cincinnati Reds
Just like last year, it seems like the NL Central is a two-team division. Most teams in MLB will smile when they see the Cincinnati Reds on the schedule and it is their job to prove the doubters wrong.
The Reds have the third-worst odds to win the World Series in 2023 for very good reasons. I think the Reds are receiving too much hate and will have a bad season, but will not finish worst in the division. Nick Lodolo had a good rookie campaign and Hunter Greene can be a problem as he works on consistency. The future might be bright for the Reds, just not quite yet.
No. 5, Pittsburgh Pirates
There are many negative words you can use to describe the 2022 Pittsburgh Pirates season, but I will use, “abysmal.” They had the worst offense in the NL, and not much went right for the team in black and yellow.
Winners of just 62 games last year, the Pirates have a lot of work to do. Bryan Reynolds has been in a lot of trade rumors as of late, and I would not be surprised if Pittsburgh has another 100-loss season. At least the Oneil Cruz show has begun.