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Chicago Cubs: Predicting the standings in the National League Central

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Oct 26, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs players from left Addison Russell , Javier Baez and Kris Bryant celebrate after defeating the Cleveland Indians in game two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 26, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs players from left Addison Russell , Javier Baez and Kris Bryant celebrate after defeating the Cleveland Indians in game two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports /

Third Place: Pittsburgh Pirates

After three years of playoff appearances, the Pittsburgh Pirates fell short of October baseball in 2016. A drop of 20 wins from one season to the next will do that. However, in the first half of the season, the Pirates played above .500 baseball. And, they were at .500 against the rest of the division.

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Cubs: Seiya Suzuki and Franmil Reyes reenact NSFW Major League-themed celebration (Video) /

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  • Well, except the Chicago Cubs.

    Andrew McCutchen is an enigma. Once the MVP center fielder of the team, he is now forced to right field. He is not happy about it. After a poor showing in 2016, can he rebound to his normal production? If he does (and that is a hopeful if from me), the offense can be solid. Josh Harrison is more than capable leading off, and Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco are growing into All-Stars.

    But, is there enough pitching? Gerrit Cole cannot do it alone. There is not a lot behind him, but Jameson Taillon is a young star-in-the-making. The bullpen is lacking. Tony Watson, named closer after Mark Melancon was traded, filled in well on the back end of the staff. Between the starter and the closer, though, there are question marks.

    What the experts say:

    Bleacher Report: 82-80, third place

    ESPN: 83-79, third place

    Fangraphs: 82-80, third place

    SB Nation: second place

    Sports Illustrated: third place

    Sporting News: third place

    USA Today: 81-81, third place

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