Brewers: Predicting The Final NL Central Standings In 2021
It’s finally here. Opening Day. We here at Reviewing The Brew hope to have kept you excited about Brewers baseball throughout the offseason, but now the real fun starts back up. And with fans back in the stands, there’s even more reason to be excited.
You didn’t think you get get through an entire offseason without our projections on how the year would unfold though did you? Each site contributor submitted their thoughts regarding the upcoming season and while some things are strikingly similar (Pirates fans look away), there are some differences too.
Here are our contributors’ attempts at foreshadowing what the 2021 season will look like.
1. Brewers 92-70
2. Cardinals 89-73
3. Cubs 84-78
4. Reds 80-82
5. Pirates 60-102
This will likely be a two horse race between the Brewers and Cardinals, the only two teams in the NL Central that tried to get better this offseason. Hopefully the Arenado addition won’t work out for St. Louis and his home/road splits from Colorado hold as a trend now that he’s in a pitcher friendly park. The Cubs still have the bulk of their core so they could be dangerous while the Reds are likely to take a step back. Pirates will probably go wire-to-wire in the basement.
1. Brewers 89-73
2. Cardinals 85-77
3. Cubs 83-79
4. Reds 81-81
5. Pirates 65-97
The Cardinals and the Brewers were the only teams that actively tried to get better this offseason. Even with the addition of Nolan Arenado, the Brewers still have the advantage in this weak division. The Cubs will have to make a decision which direction they want to go as a club, core members are slated to hit the free agent market this offseason.
We could see a fire sale if things aren’t looking that strong at Am-Fam South in July. The Reds have no answer at shortstop, and with the loss Trevor Bauer it is tough to say they are a better team than last season. The Pirates are still accumulating talent, and are a near-lock to be in the cellar of the Central. What happens in October is anyone’s guess, but I would be willing to bet the Brewers see the postseason for a fourth straight season.
1. Brewers- 89-73
2. Cardinals 87-75
3. Reds 82-80
4. Cubs 81-81
5. Pirates 72-90
While I am probably pushing the Brewers over the top with my emotions, the talent is there to support my prediction as NL Central Champions. The additions of Wong and JBJ with the defense is aligned to better support the strength of the team, their pitching. The Cardinals boast one of the division’s most talented rosters but with as many question marks across the diamond as answers.
1. Brewers 88-74
2. Cubs 84-78
3. Reds 80-82
4. Cardinals 77-85
5. Pirates 61-101
The Brewers have an exceptional bullpen, and Craig Counsell is one of the best in the business at pitching staff management. Combine this with their improved defense, headlined by new acquisitions Jackie Bradley Jr., and Kolten Wong, and Milwaukee seems to have a recipe for winning close games. This is what will separate them from the pack in the end.
As for the Reds and Cubs, both teams have a worse roster than they had in 2020. The Reds had the lowest team batting average in baseball last season, and made the postseason only thanks to their pitching. Now they’ve lost ace Trevor Bauer and closer Raisel Iglesias. Chicago also lost some key players in Yu Darvish (2.01 ERA last season) and Kyle Schwarber. Even though they will still be competitive, I think them losing key players will not help the team morale. If these teams are struggling at the deadline, we could see more veterans sent packing in an effort to re-tool further.
St. Louis made arguably the best move of the whole offseason by snagging Nolan Arenado from the Rockies. That said, this team still has some kinks to work out. Their wily veterans are all one year older, and the rotation behind Jack Flaherty is a question mark. 2-4 in this division will be pretty close, but I can see St. Louis being the team that lags behind, perhaps to some people’s surprise.
1. Brewers 86-76
2. Cardinals 83-79
3. Cubs 80-82
4. Reds 75-87
5. Pirates 57-105
The Milwaukee Brewers will win the NL Central for the 3rd time in franchise history in 2021. Behind Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes, the rest of the starting rotation will continuously do enough to keep the Crew in the game before passing the baton to the bullpen. This Brewers bullpen will once again have the lowest ERA in the league and will blow less than five leads entering the 7th inning or later. Woodruff and Burnes will both finish Top 10 in Cy Young Award voting.
Defensively, Milwaukee will rank top five in the MLB in fielding percentage thanks to the additions of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kolten Wong, who will both win another Gold Glove Award. The offense will come back to life in 2021 and they’ll flex their muscle throughout the season as they did in Spring Training. The Crew collectively will return to their normal Top 10 finish amongst teams in the MLB in home runs and Yelich will launch 35 long balls. Avisail Garcia and Omar Narvaez will return to their good form and both hit above .280.
1. Cardinals 92-70
2. Brewers 91-71
3. Cubs 85-77
4. Reds 83-79
5. Pirates 63-99
I think the NL Central is going to be tight this season, but the returned strong pitching staff and the addition of Nolan Arenado will be just enough to give the Cardinals the divisional crown.
For the Brewers, Woody and Burnes will lead the way from a SP standpoint but depth beyond that will be tested at times and feel like a roller coaster with many highs but also some lows. In the bullpen, Josh Hader will win his third NL Reliever of the Year award and lead the league in saves. Christian Yelich will bounce back to have a 30 HR/30 steal season and will receive MVP votes. Omar Narvaez will be a candidate to win the Silver Slugger award.
1. Brewers 91-71
2. Cubs 85-77
3. Cardinals 84-78
4. Reds 77-85
5. Pirates 62-100
This probably isn’t far off from a lot of the predictions outside of possibly the order of Chicago and St. Louis. The Brewers, I believe, will win the division. They didn’t make many flashy offseason moves, but the moves they did make should make a major difference. They should have one of the best defenses in baseball, along with a greatly improved offense from last year.
They’ll still have a top 5 bullpen and very well may have the best 1-2 punch at the top of a rotation in baseball. The biggest upgrade will be the progression back to their career averages for players like Yelich, Garcia and Narvaez.
The Cubs I believe will finish above the Cards for a couple reasons. I trust their lineup a bit more, and their rotation seems to have fewer question marks, even if the ceiling isn’t as high. The Cards have some high octane bullpen arms, but those won’t matter if they struggle to keep runs off the board with an already dinged up rotation.
1. Cardinals 94-68
2. Brewers 91-71
3. Cubs 84-78
4. Reds 80-82
5. Pirates 69-93
The St. Louis Cardinals are pesky and annoying. I truly believe the Milwaukee Brewers have a solid and playoff-worthy roster. They upgraded defensively, their offensive power will turn heads and they have the best bullpen in Major League Baseball.
But even with all of that, the Cardinals always produce a good baseball team. A much higher team salary definitely helps and basically stealing Nolan Arenado really, really helps. They have a solid roster, even if it isn’t as talented or deep as the Brewers’. I see Milwaukee clinching the Wild Card spot and making it farther in the playoffs than the Cardinals. I hope I’m wrong and we get to see the Brewers at the top of the NL Central.
1. Cardinals 88-74
2. Brewers 87-75
3. Cubs 81-81
4. Reds 72-90
5. Pirates 60-102
It brings me no pleasure in saying this, but I have the Cards taking the division. Arenado will make them a pain, even not playing in the friendly hitter-friendly Coors Field, and they continue to be the gold standard in the NL Central. I do think the Brewers will battle it out with them all year, partly due to Milwaukee improving over last year and partly due to the weakness of the rest of the division, but I still have to give St. Louis the edge.
I can’t fully count the Cubs out based on the talent they still have on offense, but they lost a lot of pitching talent this offseason and it will hurt them. Nothing tells me the Reds are going to be better than last year after losing some key pieces. The Pirates….well, they’re the Pirates.
It will be fun to see who’s guesses came the closest at the end of the season, but the moral of the story here is we all believe the Milwaukee Brewers will be fierce competitors in the division this year. Now who’s ready for some Brewers baseball?!