After running through both the American League and National League Eastern Divisions, we move to the Central Divisions.
The NL Central is one of the most crowded divisions in the sport, as the top four teams (sorry Pirates fans) could all make their case to finish atop the division.
In the AL Central, while many seem like the Twins lineup may power Minnesota back to the playoffs, the Chicago White Sox are one of the most exciting up-and-coming teams in all of baseball.
The Central Divisions:
National League Central:
Seipp: It seems like the Cubs have been trotting out the same lineup since 2015. It worked in 2016, but hasn’t since. After Joe Maddon’s departure, the Cubs could see a bit of a culture change in 2020, but the team doesn’t seem as exciting as years past. The Cubs, as always, will remain competitive, but I expect the team to sit around .500 all season long. Record Prediction: 29-31.
Seitz: The Cubs are trending in the wrong direction. Chicago is a team that has looked almost the exact same for the past five years, but has only been able to deliver one title to the Northside of Chicago. Nicholas Castellanos was instrumental in the Cubs winning 84 games in 2019, but left for Cincinnati in the offseason. The Cubs and first year manager David Ross should hover around .500 all year. Record Prediction: 28-32.
Seipp: The Cincinnati Reds have turned into the “popular” pick to win this year’s NL Central crown. Adding Mike Moustakas and Shogo Akiyama to Cincinnati’s everyday lineup is huge. In a 60 game sprint, if he remains consistent like he did last year, Sonny Gray could be extremely beneficial for the Reds (he’s also an underrated NL Cy Young candidate). A rotation that consists of Gray, Luis Castillo, Trevor Bauer, Wade Miley, and Anthony DeSclafani, if all perform as they’re capable, with the Reds lineup, could be an underrated team to take the National League by storm in 2020. Record Prediction: 36-24.
Seitz: There’s a lot of hype surrounding the Reds since beefing up their roster in the offseason. The additions of a few high profile bats in Nicholas Castellanos and Mike Moustakas as well as Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama puts Cincinnati in a favorable position with the inclusion of the universal DH this season. In addition to the upgrades to their lineup, the Cincinnati pitching staff is solid from top to bottom and is headlined by Luis Castillo, Trevor Bauer and Sonny Gray. All the Reds need to do is execute when it matters, which is easier said than done. Record Prediction: 37-23.
Seipp: With Christian Yelich on your ballclub, you’d think the Brewers would try to do anything to win in his prime. The Brewers made many small moves, signing: Brett Anderson, Josh Lindbloom, Eric Lauer, Eric Sogard, Justin Smoak, Avisail Garcia, and a few others. Sorry, Brewers fans, but bringing back Eric Sogard isn’t going to put you over the top. It’s going to be an incredibly tight division; if Christian Yelich gets hot and Craig Counsell rallies his team like he did in September last season, the Brewers could make a run at the playoffs. Record Prediction: 30-30.
Seitz: The Brewers have somehow done just enough to succeed the past few seasons. Milwaukee’s success has been dependent on late August and September runs to get into the playoffs and even win the NL central. Unfortunately for Milwaukee, they do not have time to form a late 50-game push at the end of the year. With the lack of serious additions to the club, the Brewers have a low floor in a shortened season. If Christian Yelich goes on a tear and carries the city of Milwaukee on his back, then the Brewers could be a dangerous team coming out of the NL central. Record Prediction: 31-29.
Seipp: At the 2019 All-Star Break, the Pirates were just 1/2 game behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central; they finished last in division, 22 games back. That’s a small indicator that if a team starts off well, they could be able to make the sprint to the Postseason. But, with this Pirates team, that’s not happening. Bryan Reynolds and Kevin Newman are two of the most underrated hitters in the National League, but that’s all the Buccos have going for them. Record Prediction: 22-38.
Seitz: Pittsburgh is historically a first-half team, but with the departure of manager Clint Hurdle a culture change is expected in the Pirate locker room. The way new manager Derek Shelton will handle this season is anyone’s guess. He could opt to play his young players for development sake, or he could try and make a miracle push with some of his veterans. Either way, the Pirates should not be anything special. Pittsburgh fans need to look to the future and hope their young talent can produce in the next five years. Record Prediction: 23-37
St. Louis Cardinals:
Seipp: After sneaking by the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS only to get obliterated against the Washington Nationals in the NLCS, the Cardinals did virtually nothing this offseason. They lost Marcell Ozuna and Michael Wacha while adding nobody. In a division that seems like every team is mediocre, the Cardinals could sneak back into the Postseason if Paul Goldschmidt could bounce back and perform well, but don’t expect them to go too far. Record Prediction: 34-26.
Seitz: St. Louis quietly won the NL Central last year and even won their NLDS matchup with the Braves. The Cardinals made no notable moves this winter and lost a few veteran players. Watch for Jack Flaherty to continue to blossom into one of the best young pitchers in the game. The Cardinals should fly under the radar this year and be in the hunt for the division down to the last game. Record Prediction: 36-24
Seipp: Division: Cincinnati Reds (36-24).
Seitz: Division: Cincinnati Reds (37-23), Wild Card: St. Louis Cardinals (36-24).
American League Central:
Chicago White Sox:
Seipp: In February 2019, Chicago White Sox fans found it embarrassing that they couldn’t land Manny Machado. Now, over 17 months later, it seems like a blessing in disguise Machado didn’t land in Chicago. The White Sox were able to go out and pick up Yasmani Grandal, Edwin Encarnacion, Gio Gonzalez, and Dallas Keuchel to bulk up an already trending upward ballclub. The White Sox will be able to rack up many wins with their weak schedule even with the loss of Michael Kopech, but will it be enough to get into the postseason? Record Prediction: 38-22.
Seitz: The Southsiders are back! The White Sox made multiple moves this offseason to bolster their roster. The majority of these moves were veteran additions with playoff experience. This gives Chicago a huge advantage in a shortened season with an easy schedule. We could possibly see the Sox back in the Postseason for the first time in a while. Record Prediction: 36-24.
Seipp: Ever since Rajai Davis’s home run in game seven of the 2016 World Series, the Indians have been trending in the wrong direction. In 2019 they took a major step back; now, they have a tremendous amount of questions when it comes to their lineup, including whether or not Francisco Lindor will be in Cleveland by the end of the season. The Indians won’t be returning to the Postseason in 2020. Record Prediction: 23-37.
Seitz: Cleveland, like their 2016 World Series opponent, is trending downward. With the departure of Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber, and other key pieces within the last calendar year, the Indians are primed for a subpar season. On top of all the previous losses from last year, star shortstop Francisco Lindor may not be in the team come September. Record Prediction: 24-36.
Seipp: There isn’t much to say when it comes to the Detroit Tigers. Could we ask for Spencer Torkelson to be called up this season? Please? Record Prediction: 14-46.
Seitz: Detroit is yet another American League dumpster fire. They should be a few wins better than Baltimore, but still horrific. Record Prediction: 13-49.
Kansas City Royals:
Seipp: Don’t be shocked if Jorge Soler finishes the season as the American League Home Run King. That may be the only incentive from this 2020 Royals season, besides hopefully seeing a healthy Salvador Perez play again. Record Prediction: 16-44.
Seitz: Kansas City announced that Salvador Perez tested positive for the Coronavirus the other day. Hopefully Perez can make a full recovery and get back behind the dish after an injury plagued 2019. Royals fans can also look for big years from Jorge Soler and Whit Merrifield. Record Prediction: 18-42
Seipp: Last year, it was the Minnesota Twins’s division to lose. This year, in a shortened season, expect the Twins to be neck-and-neck with the Chicago White Sox all season long. The Twins were one of the best regular season teams last year, racking up over 100 wins; but, in a shortened season, you hope the Twins could get the long ball working early for them (the signing of Josh Dolandson definitely helps that). If the rotation could stay strong, expect the Twins back in the mix for the Postseason. Record Prediction: 38-22.
Seitz: Minnesota lives and dies by the long ball. If newly acquired Josh Donaldson and company can “bring the rain” to America’s Heartland over the 60-game season the Twins will enjoy the success they had last season. The Twins and White Sox’s battle for the AL central should come down to the final day of the 2020 season. Record Prediction: 37-23.
Seipp: Division: Chicago White Sox (38-22), Wild Card: Minnesota Twins (38-22).
Seitz: Division: Minnesota Twins (37-23), Wild Card: Chicago White Sox (36-24).