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Analyzing Over/Under Win Projections for NL Central Teams: Who Will Come Out on Top?

Craig Counsell smiling at his first Cubs press conference

Criag Counsell moving from one NL Central team to another.

The National League Central in 2023 had one playoff team, and it is regarded as one of the worst divisions in baseball. The Milwaukee Brewers were NL Central champs with a 92-70 record last year. The NL Central is an intriguing division because of all the young talent coming up throughout each farm system. Jackson Chourio with the Brewers, Elly De La Cruz with the Reds and O’Neil Cruz with the Pirates are just a few of the young, talented up and coming players from each team. The division is wide open in 2024, and win projections according to Vegas say so as well. Here are my over/under predictions for each team in the NL Central for the 2024 season.

St. Louis Cardinal’s Logo

St. Louis Cardinals:

84.5 wins

Sonny Gray signed a 3-year $75 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals

Sonny Gray signed a 3-year $75 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.

The St. Louis Cardinals were arguably the most disappointing team from the 2023 season. With a 71-91 record, the main struggle with this squad stems from the pitching staff. Injuries and just underperforming veterans were not able to get the job done. Jack Flaherty (109.2 innings), Steven Matz (105 innings), Adam Wainwright (101 innings), are just a few names of underperforming pitchers who also dealt with injury. 

But the Cardinals made one big move and then some under-the-radar moves this offseason. The Cardinals signed the 2023 AL Cy Young runner-up Sonny Gray to a three-year deal and Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn to one-year deals as well. What do these guys have in common? They eclipsed 180 innings last year, which is what this Cardinals team desperately needed.

Did the Cardinals pitching staff improve enough to compete for the NL Central?

Sonny Gray was a stellar move and adding depth arms was a must. The lineup should be able to produce runs as always, looking for bounce back years from Arenado and Goldschmidt. I have my doubts about the new pitching staff, but it can't get worse than last year. Cardinals' fans will be happy with that.

Prediction: Over 84.5 wins

Chicago Cub’s Logo

Chicago Cubs:

84.5 wins

Shota Imanaga flexing his new Cub's uniform.

The Japanese southpaw inks four-year deal with the Cubs.

The Chicago Cubs were supposed to be a middle-of-the-pack team in the 2023 season. However, they turned their season around after not selling at the trade deadline--only to collapse in August to end up missing the postseason.

After what some would say a successful year, the Cubs were thought to be big spenders this offseason. They started off well, signing former Brewer's manager Craig Counsell to a five-year, $40 million deal, making him the highest paid manager in the league. The Cubs waited most of the offseason to re-sign Cody Bellinger, who is coming off of his best season since his 2019 MVP season. They were also able to sign Shota Imanaga from overseas, a big plus for this rotation. 

Did the Cubs get better this offseason?

They lost Marcus Stroman to the Yankees and kept their pitching staff relatively the same, after just having average production last year. Hector Neris was a great addition for the bullpen, but we will have to see if he can be consistent. They were able to trade for Michael Busch, who is well overdue for his chance as a big leaguer. The lineup stays mostly the same, and after a disappointing end to the 2023 season. This Cubs team is a tad bit overhyped for my liking.

Prediction: Under 83.5 wins

Cincinnati Reds’ Logo

Cincinnati Reds:

81.5 wins

Elly De La Cruz fielding a ball in play.

Elly De La Cruz and the Reds confident heading into 2024.

The Cincinnati Reds surprised everyone last year, winning 82 games and. At one point in the season, they looked like they could win the NL Central. I can’t lie; this young squad is one of the most fun teams to watch. Matt Mclain, Elly De La Cruz, Will Benson, and Spencer Steer are just some of the young guys that stepped up for this squad last year. This team has some hype coming into the 2024 season. 

Signing opening day starter Frankie Montas to a one-year deal and potentially starting 3rd basemen Jeimer Candelario were needs that needed to be filled, as projected starting 3rd baseman Noelvi Marte is suspended for the first half of the season. 

This team’s biggest weakness last year was the pitching staff. Inconsistent innings from starters and the bullpen were the downfall for their 2023 season. They really didn’t do a whole lot to improve it. Montas is a solid signing for this squad, but not signing any promising arms for the bullpen is something Reds fans have to be disappointed in.

Can Lodolo and Greene stay healthy?

I am betting on them staying healthy for this team. As young as this team is, the sky is limit. Barring injuries, this team can do some damage against a weak division.

Prediction: Over 81.5 wins

Milwaukee Brewers’ Logo

Milwaukee Brewers:

77.5 wins

Christian smiling towards the camera in excitement.

Christian Yelich showed flashes of his former MVP self in 2023.

It almost feels likes the Milwaukee Brewers do the same thing every year. They don’t improve too much but always have the pitching to put up winning seasons. Then, they lose in the first round of the postseason. The Brewers once again had a strong season, going 92,70 and falling in the first round of the postseason once again. The bounce-back season from Christian Yelich was the difference maker last year, along with star catcher William Contreras. 

Outside of their established stars in the lineup, this team is super raw and young. Garrett Mitchell was out for most of the season with a shoulder injury. Sal Frelick showed flashes later in the season. Joey Wiemer was inconsistent. Brice Turang just looks uncomfortable at the plate, and this list goes on. 

Corbin Burnes being traded to the Orioles for Joey Ortiz and D.L. Hall was the right move, but a move that stings. Brandon Woodruff will be out for the season, so this team will be relying on 27-year-old Freddy Peralta to carry the workload. 

What Christian Yelich will we see?

For the past three years, Christian Yelich looked like a shell of his former MVP self we had just seen in 2018 and 2019. However, last year Yelich was able to stay healthy and proved he still has gas in the tank. He looked more like the slugger Brewer’s fans have come to love. I believe that Christian Yelich is here to stay and could be the star this team desperately needs. 

The lineup looked to improve, signing Rhys Hoskins to a two-year deal and potentially having star prospect Jackson Chourio on the opening day roster could help this team out tremendously. With an elite bullpen and development from their star prospects, this could once again be a sneaky team to win the division once again.

Prediction: Over 77.5 wins

Pittsburgh Pirates’ Logo

Pittsburgh Pirates:

76.5 wins

O'Neil Cruz getting ready for his at bat.

O'Neil Cruz looks to bounce back after a season-ending injury in 2023.

The Pittsburgh Pirates surprised everyone with their hot start to the 2023 season. At one point they led the division over 30 games into the season. However, my questions about this team stem from the pitching staff. Mitch Keller had an incredible first half last season, but his second half was underwhelming.

The lineup is young and is ready to make some noise, but their offensive success relies on one man: O’Neil Cruz. Cruz suffered a season-ending injury after a collision at home plate against the Chicago White Sox. Before Elly De La Cruz was called up to the majors, O’Neil Cruz was the most talked about prospect in baseball. Pirates' fans believe O'Neil Cruz is on the come up. 

Can this young pitching staff do some damage in the nl central?

The answer, for me, at this point, is not yet. I don’t think this team will be like the 2023 Reds, but there is a chance they hit their over on wins. For right now, however, the Pirates are one year away from fighting for the NL Central.

Prediction: Under 76.5 wins

Although the NL Central has been pinned as a bottom tier division, I believe this division can shock some people this season. With all the young talent and new offseason signings, this division will be very competitive. Even if the records don't show it, this division will be one of the more fun divisions in the MLB. Each team has their weaknesses, but there is an argument for each team winning the NL Central in 2024.


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