Last year in the NL Central, one team won the division outright, but now without having to chase off two teams that were hot on their heels. The other three teams collapsed and made plans for the future.
Here are my predictions for the NL Central for this upcoming season:
St. Louis Cardinals:
PROJECTED FINISH: FIRST IN NL CENTRAL
Reasons why: This team still has a lot of core players from last year’s World Series team. They’ll miss Albert Pujols, but they’ll enjoy Carlos Beltran if he can stay healthy. The Cardinals have a good rotation and depth through their lineup. Look for them to battle the Reds for the division title.
PROJECTED FINISH: SECOND IN NL CENTRAL
Reasons why: This team has depth, pitching, and talent to get the job done. The problem is, when you play in such a tough division, it’s hard to tell where you stand. I see the Reds finishing in second place, because of their depth and pitching. Look for them to compete in the Central Division this year.
PROJECTED FINISH: THIRD IN NL CENTRAL
Reasons why: This team will have to get over the loss of Prince Fielder in the offseason. I like Rickie Weeks for his speed and instincts, but they’ll need a lot more depth and power. Hopefully Aramis Ramirez and Alex Gonzalez who were signed in the offseason can help fill those voids. They’ll be in the race the whole season long, unless they suffer a monumental collapse.
PROJECTED FINISH: FOURTH IN NL CENTRAL
Reasons why: This team has a lot of talent, but they don’t have enough depth. Their rotation is below average, and their lineup leaves something to be desired. Don’t expect a big year from these guys. It could be a very miserable one throughout.
PROJECTED FINISH: FIFTH IN NL CENTRAL
Reasons why: This team got way too complacent last year. Many times you had to question their focus and intensity. I feel this team showed a complete lack of fundamentals last year as they finished a disappointing (74-88). They’ll battle the Astros for last place. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s another losing season and the “curse of the old goat” continues for another year.
PROJECTED FINISH: SIXTH N NL CENTRAL
Reasons why: They’re awful. Their pitching rotation is terrible. Not enough depth or talent, and worse, there’s a chance they may be moving to the American League after this season. Don’t be surprised if they fire their manager midway through the season. It could be a season that is filled with frustration, 100 losses, and major changes for the future.