What is going on, ball boys and girls? As always, I hope you guys are doing super well. Going into spring training, I wanted to gather all the divisions to predict the division's outcomes. I also wanted to predict the most likely CY Young, MVP, and ROY from each division. For each team in the said division, I will give you a breakout candidate, rebound candidate, an impact NRI(non-roster invite), and one Rookie to watch.
Without further ado, let's talk about the NL Central! With the talent getting better in the MLB, I need you to take your talent up in the kitchen. By using Dan-o's seasoning, your game will be top-notch. When you add no sugar, MSG, GMO's, artificial chemicals, or gluten, I can promise you one thing: you're going to love it! I use it in my kitchen, and I do all my meal prep with Dan-o's, and it's changed the game for me. Let me do the same for you by offering you a chance to change how you cook today.
Division Standing Prediction
St Louis Cardinals- 97-65
Chicago Cubs- 95-67
Cincinnati Reds- 83-79
Milwaukee Brewers- 81-81
When you get the best 3B in baseball, you instantly have an MVP candidate on your team. Nolan Arenado is already the MVP of the NL Central. Suppose Arenado gives us another Gold Glove season, which is going to happen. Don't be surprised to see a career year for Arenado in HR, RBI, BA, OBP, H, DRS, UZR, and dominate the NL Central.
Other candidates: Christian Yelich, Paul Goldschmidt, Kris Bryant
The Cy Young winner of the NL Central is on the Reds. I am calling my shot on Luis Castillo. Castillo is an untouchable asset for the Reds, and they wouldn't trade him unless for a king's ransom. He is coming off a season where he threw 70IP with a 3.21ERA/2.65FIP I can see Castillo only getting better and fill the void left by Trevor Bauer.
Other candidates: Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright, Alec Mills.
Don't you know who the most apparent Rookie of the Year is in the Central? His name is Ke'Bryan Hayes; he is the 3B of the Pirates. In his 85AB with the team, he slashed .376/.442/.682 and posted a 1.9WAR. Hayes is well on his way to being a superstar and leading the Pirates' next wave of talent.
Players to Watch: Cardinals
I am calling the breakout for OF Tyler O'Neill. The 25yo has incredible power and speed. Coming off a Gold Glove season in 2020, O'Neill is ready to do more than ever with the bat. With Arenado and Goldy with him in the Clubhouse, the time is 2021. He is coming off a .173/.261/.360 season, believe in him and the Red Birds to dominate the Central.
The OF combo of Dylan Carlson, Harrison Bader, and Tyler O'Neill are the three that need to rebound in my eyes. The trio carries high expectations, and each is incredibly talented in their ways. The trio has the upside to be the best OF trio in the NL potentially. If each can hit average league numbers around Arenado and Goldy. Watch out for the Cardinals.
The NRI I am watching in Cardinals camp in C Tyler Heineman. The switch-hitting backstop owns a .208/.288/.302 slash in 62PA. The MiLB slash of .287/.353/.430 is encouraging for the presumed backup to Yadi.
The Rookie to watch in Cards camp is OF Dylan Carlson. After slashing only a .200/.252/.364, the 2016 1st round pick left much to be desired. The talent is there for Carlson, and with another great vet hitter around in Arenado, should help the young outfielder stay grounded.
Players to Watch: Cubs
I am calling the breakout for newly acquired OF Joc Pederson. For the first time in his career, he will get a shot at being an everyday player, something we have yet to see. Pederson is a career .230/.336/.470 hitter and has shown decent power and decent OF play in his time with the Dodgers. Look for Pederson to be a force in the Cubs lineup.
The big three need to rebound in 2021. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez. With the Central still within reach for the Cubs, the trio's big bats will need to deliver better results than they did in 2020.
The Cubs some interesting arms in camp this spring. Pedro Strop, Rex Brothers, Joe Biagini, Shelby Miller are all guys I am keeping my eye on this spring. Each should be able to have a fair shot at earning a pen role with the club.
I am going to be watching Rookie LHP Brailyn Marquez in camp this spring. The 22yo made his MLB debut last season, and it wasn't a great showing. He only was able to manage 0.2IP with 5ER, 1K, and 3BB. He made the leap from A+ ball to MLB action, which can be a huge reason to go along with age. In his 103.2IP in 2019, he had a 3.13ERA, 128K-50BB in that span.
Players to Watch: Reds
I called a big breakout for the Reds in Cy Candidate Luis Castillo. However, I think another name to keep an eye on is RHP/OF Michael Lorenzen. In 33IP in the 2020 season, he had a 4.28ERA/3.87FIP. He only took 1PA in 2020, mainly due to the universal DH; however, he has a career .235/.284/.432 slash and a laser for an arm from the OF.
The rebound that is needed for the Reds is the ENTIRE offense. The offense had 534K-239BB with a team .12OBP and a .715OPS, making them a barely above-average player. The problem may lie in philosophy as the team scored ZERO runs during the wildcard round against the Braves.
The NRI to watch in camp for the Reds is INF Dee Strange-Gordon. The Reds have limited options up the middle, and Gordon gives the Reds a utility, vet option. With a .266/.293/.343 slash over the last three seasons in Seattle. The Reds are hoping for a league-average showing from Gordon this spring to utilize him atop the lineup.
The Rookie I am watching is C Tyler Stephenson. While only making eight starts. The experience with the taxi squad at the alternate site. Stephenson is being given every shot to compete as Barkharts backup.
Players to Watch: Brewers
I feel we will see a good INF from the Brewers in 2021 that may turn many heads. I can see both Keston Huira and Luis Urias coming into their own in 2021. Both had a good season in 2020, and with the Brewers just barely sneaking into the Playoffs in 2020. The team needs every bit of potential of these two to surface this season.
Believe it or not, Christian Yelich is who I am calling for a rebound. 2020 was awful for Yelich, who was in the first season of his 9yr deal. He produced a career-low WAR of 0.5, .205BA, .356OBP. The expectations were high for Yelich because of his 2018 MVP and 2019 2nd place finish. Yelich will win another MVP, and with a strong rebound in 2021, he will be right back up among the best in the MLB.
I got my eye on two NRI in Brewers camp. The first is RHP Jordan Zimmerman, who is celebrating a homecoming as the Brewers are his hometown team. The 35yo was only able to manage 5.2IP in 2020, and in his five seasons with the Tigers, he only threw 514.1IP with a 5.63ERA. The other guy I got my eye on is INF Travis Shaw. Coming off a .239/.306/.411 over 180PA with the Jay's, shaw will look to get back to his production with the team in 2017-18 when he hit .258/.347/.497, 63HR, and 1193PA.
The Rookie I am watching is OF Corey Ray. Ray made it to the AAA level in 2019. In that time at AAA, he played in 58G, made 207AB with a .188/.261/.329 slash. After spending much of 2020 in the player pool at the alternate site. We should get an extended look in spring.
Players to Watch: Pirates
The breakout is coming for 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes. Let me repost the 2021 rookie of the year bio from above. In his 85AB with the team, he slashed .376/.442/.682 and posted a 1.9WAR. Hayes is well on his way to being a superstar and leading the Pirates' next wave of talent.
The Pirates don't have anyone left from last season and made no signings with many trades this winter. I am calling a career rebound for LHP Mitch Keller. The Pirates' now ace is primed to take over the team's leadership role and the rotation. The 24yo, almost 25yo, has only pitched 69.2IP, with a -0.5WAR and a 4.30FIP. The ERA was pretty in 2020, sitting at 2.91. However, the 6.74FIP is more telling.
The NRI I am keeping my eye on is Todd Frazier. The vet doesn't fill any big holes for the team around the INF. However, he brings a decade of experience and has played like an actual big-league his entire career. The 35yo, 10-year vet in the MLB has a career .242/.319/.448 over 4909PA. He also has two seasons of 35+HR and 2 All-Star nods. At 3B, he has 20DRS, 24.6UZR in 9100INN at the position.
The Rookie I am watching is Ke'Bryan Hayes. All eyes on Hayes!
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