Season Preview in Review – National League Central

Back during Spring Training, I took a look at each team and made predictions about how each team would do and how I thought their season would go. This was the first year doing this, and I figured now was a good time to take a look back and see how it went. I previously looked at each of the divisions in the American League and the NL East, and I move now to the NL Central.

Chicago Cubs

Predicted Record: 87-75
Actual Record: 75-87

I had thought that the Cubs would find a way to put it together this season, and find a way to win what definitely appeared to be a weak division. Unfortunately, it was not to be, and the team really spun out of control throughout the season. The bright spots for the team really seemed to be the emergence of rookie shortstop Starlin Castro and the performance that manager Mike Quade was able to coax out of the team. Hopefully they will be able to make a quick recovery in 2011.

Cincinnati Reds

Predicated Record: 80-82
Actual Record: 91-71

The Reds were clearly one of the biggest surprises of the season, winning the NL Central by 5 games over the Cardinals. I can’t say I saw this coming, and they were really led by the performances of Joey Votto, Scott Rolen, and the group of young pitchers they had come up during the season. This season got manager Dusty Baker an extension, but I’m wondering if this might have been the peak performance for this group. They will definitely need to figure out who is going to be in the starting rotation for 2011, as many of their pitchers were used for parts of the season only.

Houston Astros
Predicted Record: 73-89
Actual Record: 76-86

The Astros ended up doing slightly better than I thought they would, and that was in spite of the early season struggles of Wandy Rodriguez and the midseason trades of Roy Oswalt to the Phillies and Lance Berkman to the Yankees. There’s not a lot to like about this team at the Major League level, but Chris Johnson has taken over the 3B job for the future. Having players like Jordan Lyles and Brett Wallace trying to make a name for themselves will help them long term as well.

Milwaukee Brewers

Predicted Record: 83-79
Actual Record: 77-85

It seems like the biggest story of this offseason is going to be who new manager Ron Roenicke will be playing at first base next season: Prince Fielder, or someone else. Yovani Gallardo has established himself as a top tier starting pitcher, but the team will need to address the rest of the rotation behind him to compete in 2011. Closer John Axford has been an epiphany, and should hold the job next year with Trevor Hoffman now retiring. We also finally saw the emergence (and fully healthy season) of Rickie Weeks, who was a major player on both sides of the game for the Brewers.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Predicted Record: 70-92
Actual Record: 57-105

How is that they can continue to be this bad? Oh wait, it’s because they’re still just barely getting out young players who are contributing. Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata came up during the season, to match up with Andrew McCutchen, but it is still going to be a long time coming before this team is even a threat to compete. And with their search for a manager not appearing to progress well, it’s really not a good place to be right now.

St. Louis Cardinals

Predicted Record: 86-76
Actual Record: 86-76

One of the only teams I actually managed to call perfectly (fluke, I know), the team wasn’t able to piece together enough wins to catch the Reds. They were led by their pitching staff, with Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and rookie Jamie Garcia at the top of the staff. Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday led the offense, but unfortunately the team is still looking for a long-term solution at 3B and 2B. It was a bit odd to see clubhouse drama out of St. Louis, but it appears to have resolved itself with Colby Rasmus at this point.

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