Chicago Cubs and 2023 MLB standings predictions
It's that time of year again when we predict the 2023 MLB standings. There are going to be several teams looking to take a big step forward this year, including the Chicago Cubs. We will start with the NL Central and the Cubs, then move around the National League and then the American League.
Do the Chicago Cubs have a shot in the NL Central?
1. St. Louis Cardinals: 93 - 69
It's hard not to give the benefit of the doubt to the Cardinals. Coming off a 2022 division title, the Cardinals added former Cubs All-Star catcher Willson Contreras to a lineup containing reigning MVP 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 3B Nolan Arenado, and IF/OF Tommy Edman. Not only does this team have a good lineup, but a very good defense. Arenado was 4th best in DRS (19). The pitching on paper looks solid too, and there is hope that ace Jack Flaherty can return strong from the big-time injuries he's sustained. There is also some significant firepower in the bullpen too. It's a well-built all-around team that should as always, be in the mix.
2. Milwaukee Brewers: 84-78
The starting pitching for The Crew still features some great arms, including Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Eric Lauer, and Freddy Peralta. Their pitching staff and defense have been able to get them a lot of wins over the past few years. Their most productive hitter in 2022, Hunter Renfroe, was traded to the Angels. They did add OF Jesse Winker and C William Contreras, and IFs Rowdy Tellez and Willy Adames can hit 30 homers. Can former MVP Christian Yelich bounce back? That can make a big difference. This team can have another solid season, but they might want to add some offense around the deadline if they are indeed in the mix.
3. Chicago Cubs: 82-80
President Jed Hoyer was one of the busiest executives in baseball this offseason. Key additions include All-Star Dansby Swanson, OF Cody Bellinger, SP Jameson Taillon, 1B/DH Trey Mancini, 1B Eric Hosmer, RF Brad Boxberger, and C Tucker Barnhart. These additions will be part of a squad that features All-Star LF Ian Happ, OF Seiya Suzuki, IF Nico Hoerner, SP Marcus Stroman, SP Justin Steele, and a collection of young prospects on the cusp.
This team has the potential to be a decently sound club. It feels like a high-floor, lower-ceiling team. They have solid veterans that can play good fundamental baseball but do not have the super star power other National League teams have. The pitching and defense have the potential to be very effective with the young arms and defensive talent they've collected, while the lineup can be decent but lacks big-time firepower. It's a solid team without the shiniest gems. The hope is they can be competitive as they move into a new era.
4. Cincinnati Reds: 73-89
Much focus will be on the Reds' farm system and young players this year. Fireballer Hunter Greene showed his potential in his first go-around in the majors last year. He will have another year to work on his stuff and command. Keep an eye on lefty starting pitcher Nick Lodolo too. Two big Reds prospects to follow are infielders Elly De La Cruz and Noelvi Marte. The current MLB lineup does not have a ton of elite firepower. They added veteran Wil Myers to play alongside 2021 Rookie of the Year SS Jonathan India, C/1B Tyler Stephenson and the longtime face of the franchise Joey Votto. It is the final year of Votto's deal (club option in 2024) and it could be his last hurrah. Even if they are not contenders in 2023, they have pieces for a bright future.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates: 71-91
There are some exciting young players in the Pirates organization. SS Oneil Cruz showed some big-time pop last year and 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes (MLB's leader in DRS in 2022) has been one of their key building blocks. Their system boasts some notable talent, which will help build their future. The big story of their offseason was bringing OF Andrew McCutchen home. They also brought in veterans P Rich Hill, DH Carlos Santana, and C Austin Hedges. One big uncertainty is if All-Star Bryan Reynolds is dealt away or not. This team could do okay offensively, but the pitching will probably struggle. Like the Reds, they have built up some pieces that could be promising for the long term.