Here, we will be giving our MLB predictions for the 2023 NL Central standings at the end of the season. If you want to hear our more in-depth breakdown from two generations of baseball fans, listen to the attached episode of the Playing Catch-Up Podcast below for the opinions of a father-son duo.
Now, let’s get started with the bottom of the barrel.
MLB Predictions for 2023 NL Central Standings
5th Place: Cincinnati Reds
While the Reds have to still be considered one of the worst teams in the league one year after pulling the plug on their own success, it’s not quite as hopeless as it appeared a year ago. The rebuild is in full swing, and young pieces like Chad Green and Johnathan India at least give fans a core to root for. Unfortunately, the organization itself has deemed this a time to develop pieces rather than go for any worthwhile success, so it looks like a tough season ahead for the Cincinnati Reds. Hopefully, at least the possible curtain call of Joey Votto can be a nice watch through this year.
4th Place: Pittsburgh Pirates
I’d love to say the young, exciting pieces of the Pirates finally culminate into a contender, but I just can’t. Flashes of brilliance appear, in especially young Bryan Reynolds in center field and the ever-reliable David Bednar holding down the bullpen. You even have more youth like O’Neil Cruz to be promising. However, it’s just too think for the Pirates across the board, especially in the rotation. My main fear is if things get bad in Pittsburgh, we’re unfortunately far enough along to see some of those most promising pieces get moved as well, which would cause things to get really bad, really fast.
3rd Place: Chicago Cubs
I expect the Cubs to be improved this year, for what it’s worth. They have an underrated rotation with some top-line talent surrounded by a roster that has a handful of All-Stars on it. I honestly like most of the lineup for Chicago, with Ian Happ and Seiya Suzuki joined by Dansby Swanson to give some possible pop to this lineup. Are these moves more for headlines than substance though? The Cubs can never do nothing, but isn’t it odd they always do just barely enough to not really do much? I’m still not over them sending their whole core elsewhere two years ago, and until they show they have the willingness to truly buy in, I can’t see them higher than just on the outside of the playoffs.
2nd Place: St. Louis Cardinals
This division has two playoff teams, in my opinion., I’m just slightly less confident in the Cardinals. The lineup was bolstered further by Wilson Contreras this offseason, but I was already very confident in that regard. The bottom line, the pitching, while improved, is just too weak compared to Milwaukee to give them the preseason edge. Jack Flaherty returning to form would ease my concerns, but without him, this is a team of second and third or worse in the rotation level guys. My concerns for the bullpen are even greater, not to mention age being an ever-present concern for the Cards. The bright side of course is their defense and offensive capabilities are elite in the whole league. Arenado, Goldschmidt, Contreras, Edmund, and on and on. They are too talented to miss the playoffs this year in my opinion, but not quite top of the pile.
1st Place: Milwaukee Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers have too much to prove this year to finish elsewhere. A lackluster trade deadline and the loss of Josh Hader maybe was the push this underachiever needed to bloom. This offseason, they got the bats they’ve needed for years in the way of William Contreras, Jessie Winker, and Adam Toro. While a disappointing end to last year may have clouded our vision, they still hold two aces in Woodruff and a contract year Burnes to lead this fearsome pitching rotation. I also think Devin WIlliams has all the makings of the best closer in baseball this year. They’ve improved across the board, and I think have shown a clear commitment to going for it this time around. While it’ll be tight, I think the depth of Milwaukee and pitching pedigree spells success this year.
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