Playing in the National League Central is not an easy task for anyone. There is no cakewalk in the Central any longer. With the young Chicago Cubs ready to pounce, the division is fully up for grabs. As opening day approaches any team has a legitimate shot at winning the Central or being left in the dust. Here is a look at how the division stacks up as the season is set to begin:
5. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds are a team that many compare to the Milwaukee Brewers, but I’m not buying them. This winter they unloaded two-fifths of the rotation as Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon were dealt and it will be too much to replace. While Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips look to return to health and Jay Bruce looks to rebound after a rough 2014, it there is to much talent all around the division for them to compete on top.
4. Chicago Cubs
The Cubs will not be on the bottom of the division for long, but with all of the young talent that they will have on the roster, season will not be without growing pains. Players like Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler have game-changing Rookie of the Year type talent, but with a pitching staff that still could use upgrades, this team is still at least a year away.
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3. Milwaukee Brewers
Last season the Brewers surprised and this year (though their are plenty of doubters) they will contend again. They didn’t make many moves, but they filled holes and made a huge upgrade at first base. Even with trading Yovani Gallardo they have the talent to have a stronger rotation this year than last. If Ryan Braun can prove healthy, they get a rebound year from Jean Segura and their corner infield stays healthy, this team will be there at the end.
2. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates have been that sneaky team for the last two years and this could finally be the year that they remove the St. Louis Cardinals from their perch. This team has a great core and arguably the best young outfield in all of baseball. Gerrit Cole is set to take his game to the next level. While the rest of the rotation has question marks, they will continue to play at the top of the division again this season.
1. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals may be the most hated team in Milwaukee, but until they are taken off the pedestal it is hard to rank them anywhere else. This winter they added Jason Heyward, as another on-base percentage bat to help make the lineup stronger. While their are question marks with almost every arm in the rotation (including Adam Wainwright), they still enter the season as the favorites.