Since we’ve covered the foundation the 2015 St. Louis Cardinals are built on and how their offense and pitching are shaping up, it’s time to think about the bottom line: What are these Cardinals going to do this season?

Nick Kirby kicked this whole thing off with a full division rundown at the start of this week, Jeremy Conley analyzed the new faces on the North side of Chicago and what’s projected for them, Jeremy Forbes took a hard look at the Brewers’ ability to score, while Nick Carrington analyzed how they’ll prevent runs, and Grant Freking took stock of the Pirates’ pitching and hitting. Now I’ll attempt to tie all their hard work together by musing on what could happen this season amongst the Reds’ division mates.

Like Nick mentioned in his article, every team in the NL Central can make a compelling argument that they can finish the season in first place. The Cubs have potential on their side, the Brewers have their dalliance with last season’s division title to motivate them, the Pirates have some of the most talented young outfielders and pitchers in the game under their employ, the Cardinals are the establishment, and the Reds have two of the biggest breakouts from 2014 entrenched alongside the smartest hitter in baseball and one of the least-appreciated (outside of the Greater Cincinnati area) aces in the game.

From what I’ve noticed while researching and writing today’s articles, St. Louis isn’t as much of a lock to win the division as I assumed before. The offensive numbers from last year aren’t that impressive, a cloud of regression looms over the middle of their lineup, and Kolten Wong and Jason Heyward will be counted on to improve upon their 2014 performance to keep this team competitive. The pitching alone may keep them near the top of the division all year but, as User1022 commented in the Kirby article, it’s going to be a dogfight.

Regression fears apply to players on every team, whether it’s because of age, a recent career-high, or seemingly unsustainable performance (Walt, if you’re reading this, re-read that last sentence while thinking to yourself “Marlon Byrd. Marlon Byrd. Marlon Byrd.”). What’s so fun about the National League Central this season is how much youth is present—regression be darned, there’s so much new blood on all of these teams each of their fanbases are justified in some optimism.

So, enough “if”s—what can we expect in 2015’s NL Central? The Brewers will hit better than people think. The Reds will, too. The Cardinals will get a season from Jason Heyward that catapults him back into superstardom and a season from Matt Holliday that will remind everyone he’s almost 36. The Cubs will need this year to learn how to win in 2016. The Pirates will have a player who either wins the MVP, Cy Young, or Rookie of the Year, with two other players finishing in the top five in the voting for the other awards.

That’s a lot of conjecture, I know. When it comes to casually prognosticating about division results and individual seasons, it’s not much more than educated guesswork. The thing is, I’ll be wrong about most of these statements, I’m sure of it. And that’s the fun part—seeing what happens in reality. Let’s get this season started already.

2 Responses

  1. doctor

    agree that Peralta, Molina, Holiday will slide some more. Problem is Heyward seems to have potential to mask their regression by himself if he puts his offensive talent together. Wong may take the success in SF playoffs and put up numbers to match in his minor league numbers. Also Cards have gotten more defensive minded to help the staff run prevention, especially with a year of stability in the infield after last year of 4 guys in new spots, along with Heyward in RF. Given Cards are LH heavy, if the 3 RH hitters above regress significantly could be make lineup very at risk vs lefty pitching.

    • brmreturns

      Of which, the Reds have precious little. Chappy as a starter……. if only