Next division preview will be the NL Central. Probably the toughest division to predict in this upcoming season- with the world series champs Cardinals and Brewers losing top key players. Reds should also be in contention after a great 2010 season then a down season in 2011.
2011 NLC Final Standings
- Brewers 96-66
- Cardinals 90-72
- Reds 79-83
- Pirates 72-90
- Cubs 71-91
- Astros 56-106
2012 NLC Predictions:
- Cardinals (88-74)
- Reds (85-77)
- Brewers (82-80)
- Pirates (75-87)
- Cubs (69-93)
- Astros (58-104)
Cardinals Analyst: Defending 2011 World series champions St Louis Cardinals will play the 2012 season and beyond without Albert Pujols who has been the centerpeice of the Cardinal’s franchise since he was called up in 2001. Not the only key lost, long-time skipper Tony LaRussa has retired shortly after the Cardinals won the world series. Cardinals managed to sneak in to the postseason after the brutal late season collapse by the Braves. They are returning ace Chris Carpenter to the helm, also Adam Wainwright who has a 20 win season min his credit, and Jaime Garcia a quality #3 type starter. Cardinals offense still looks eerly similar to the one that won the WS- despite losing Albert Pujols. They got Yadier Molina behind the plate, Lance Berkman who crushed the ball in his first season as a Cardinal- I doubt he puts up those numbers again but he should have a good season. Post-season hero David Freese gets the nod for his first full year at 3B. Carlos Beltran (CF) and Rafael Furcal (SS) are againg players but still make an impact with speed and occasional power. I think the Cards will have enough offense to propel them to another NLC pennant.
Reds Analyst: Down season for the Reds faithful after making the postseason in 2010- only posting 79 wins in the ’11 season. I think this season will be different as the Reds should be in contention all season. They have alot potential in their offensive lineup. 1B Joey Votto hits for power- Brandon Phillips hits for average and power- Rolen still playing good ball at the hot-spot. Outfield set with Stubbs (great speed, occasional power, K’s alot), Jay Bruce and my town Lancaster-native Chris Heisey patroling the OF. With a decent lineup each game, pitching staff is Cueto, newly acquired Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, and the young firearms of Mike Leake and Homer Bailey. All around decent club, should make a impact in the NL Central pennant race.
Brewers Analyst: Like the Cardinals, Brewers off-season was mered with a huge player loss. Prince Fielder left Milwaukee to switch leagues to the AL (Tigers). Heart of the Brew crew order impacted with the loss of Fielder’s power. Could play huge role on Ryan Braun as their wont be that big ball protecting him. Brewers still got a decent sortment of offensive fire power. They got a good player of Rickie Weeks at 2B, who hit 20 HRs in 2011, Nyjer Morgan, Corey Hart and of course Ryan Braun. It is going to be interesting to see how Bruan performs on two cases- 1.) without big Prince and 2.) after the Drug case that went on this offseason. Brewers pitching is led by Yovani Gallardo and Zack Grienke and Shawn Marcum with Randy Wolf a good veteran #4 type starter. Chris Narveson rounds out the rotation. Brewers pitching suggests they have a shot to come out as NLC winners again but I give the Cardinals starting 5 a slight edge. Told you its going to be one heck of a 3-team race this season!
Pirates Analyst: Pirates made a loud move last season as they treated their fans when they were in the NL Central race well into July. Their downward spirial begun when a clear tag out at the plate- was called and the Braves went on to beat the Pirates in 19 innings- then everything went downhill from there for the Bucs. This season the Pirates best offseason move wasp icking up catcher Rod Barajas- who can hit for decent power. Rest of the Pirates line-up includes Neil Walker, McCutchen, Jones, Clint Barmes and Casey McGee will control the leftside of the IF. Pirates pitching looks rather bleak in my opinion. Their ace of the staff is likely to be either Jeff Karstens or Charlie Morton. They are followed by Kevin Correia, James McDonald and injury-proned Erik Bedard. They did acquire AJ Burnett from the Yankees to become the ace of the young staff but a bunt practice injury to his eye knocked him out until atlease early June. Good thing they are starting to pack PNC Park more often now- as its a beautiful ballpark…lets hope the players reward the fans so they come out to PNC this season!
Cubs Analyst: The curse of the Cubs continue- over 100 years and still going strong since the Cubs last WS title. Cubs trying to change the reverse, named Dale Sveum new manager with Theo Epstein the new boss of the team. They won’t change the play of the team. Cubs should struggle yet again this season. They do have good offense potential with Geovany Soto though he struggled only hitting .228 2011- Sterling Castro 2nd year player- probably the best Cubs offensive threat though involved in offseason off-the-field trouble. Alfonso Soriano hit 26 homers but couldn’t lift his average over the .250 mark, Marlon Byrd, and David Dejesus can hit for average at times. Cubs pitching is the problem- Matt Garza the ace; but after him all is average at best with Ryan Dempster, Chris Volstad, Randy Wells and Travis Wood. The curse will go on for another year on the North side of Chicago.
Astros Analyst: Not much to say about the Astros. They lost 106 games in 2011- could challenge that this season as well. The Astros outlook provides 6 of 8 offensive players that I have never heard of. Carlos Lee the veteran- still not near production as he was 3-4 years ago. Jed Lowrie not a veteran- but most experienced than rest of the others besides Carlos Lee. Astros better half is pitching with Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers, JA Happ, but what help could they boost the team- if they lack to score more than 2 runs a game? Watch for Wandy Rodriguez to be dealt by the deadline to a playoff contender in need of a decent caliber pitcher. 106 losses last season, could they reach 110 losses this season?
Final review on standing predictions, I got: