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MLB Offseason Outlooks: National League Central

MLB Offseason Outlooks: National League Central

By: Shane Thompson

2016 Results:

Chicago Cubs: 103-58 (Won World Series)
St. Louis Cardinals: 86-76 (17.5 GB)
Pittsburgh Pirates: 78-83 (25 GB)
Milwaukee Brewers: 73-89 (30.5 GB)
Cincinnati Reds: 68-94 (35.5 GB)

 

The NL Central was a main focus in MLB throughout the 2016 season. I mean why wouldn’t it be? It featured the best team in baseball, the Chicago Cubs and we saw them end their 108 year World Series drought. Many doubters thought they were too young and inexperienced, yet they showed perseverance and grew up before our eyes. This division is very top heavy with Chicago and St. Louis always competing, while having Pittsburgh either buying or selling. Both Milwaukee and Cincinnati are aiming to get younger to make another run down the line. Here are my bad news and good news recaps for the 2016 season.

 

Chicago Cubs

Bad news- They were surprisingly 22-24 in one run games throughout the season. Offensive woes haunted Jason Heyward despite playing gold glove defense.

Good news- Sitting driver seat with being the World Series champions as Kris Bryant wins a deserving MVP while playing multiple positions and casting clutch hits in the postseason.

 

St. Louis Cardinals

Bad News- Adam Wainwright isn’t getting younger and is coming off a career worst 4.62 ERA. He wasn’t the only one who disappointed. Wacha and Jaime Garcia both underachieved and Lance Lynn got hit with Tommy John. To make things worse, the stolen base leader on the team had a total of 7.

Good News- the offensive had six hitters with twenty plus home runs. The infield depth with Carpenter, Gyorko, Aledmys Diaz, Wong and Peralta could create leverage for possible trades in 2017.

 

Pittsburgh Pirates

Bad News- injuries plagued Pittsburgh rather heavily. If it wasn’t Cutch on the shelf, it was Gerrit Cole, then it was Francisco Cervelli. The leader in wins on thehe pitching staff was Juan Nicasio with 11, who split time as a long reliever and spot starter.

Good News- this team projects to have one of the best offensive and defensive outfields in all of MLB. Jung Ho Kang had a nice bounce back campaign from a horrific knee injury with hitting 21 home runs.

 

Milwaukee Brewers

Bad News- Definitely one year the Brewers can forget about. Not one starter had a complete game shutout and the team wins leader was at 11. There were only two guys that finished over 2.1 WAR. Ryan Braun and Keon Broxton.

Good News- It can only go up from here, right? Ryan Braun hit 30 home runs, 90 RBI’s while posting a .305 clip. One of the biggest hidden gems was the acquition of Jonathan Villar at shortstop with an incredible 2016 campaign of 62 stolen bases, 19 home runs and 38 doubles.

 

Cincinnati Reds

Bad News- Having good pitching in a hitters park is the common trend these days. Ace Homer Bailey being on the shelf for most of the year put a damper on the 2016 season for Cincy. To top if off, they finished last in the NL with 28 saves.

Good news- The combination of power and speed kills. They finished 2nd in the NL in stolen bases with 139 and also clubbed 164 home runs. The emergence of Adam Duvall from San Francisco has supplied some stability for Joey Votto.

 

2017 Needs by position:

CHC: CL, 5th SP (If no Montgomery), OF depth
STL: RF/LF, SP, CL
PIT: SP, CL, 4th OF
MIL: SP, C, RP
CIN: SP, RF, RP

 

Players To Target In Offseason:

CHC: CL Chapman or Jansen, SP Kazmir
STL: CL Melancon, OF Saunders, SP Holland
PIT: SP Nova, CL Papelbon, OF Matt Joyce
MIL: C Castro, SP Fister, RP Cassila
CIN: SP Hammel, RP Romo, OF Gomez

 

2017 Predictions:

1) Cubs sign either Chapman or Jansen.

2) Cardinals stay quiet in trades, but signs Melancon and Saunders.

3) Pirates actively shop McCutchen at the trade deadline.

4) Brewers finally trade Braun- get Puig and a prospect from LAD

5) Reds put Votto on trade block,  but he stays a Red at seasons end

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