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MLB Central Power Rankings: Reds' busy offseason lands them near top

Norm Hall / Getty Images Sport / Getty

For the 60-game Major League Baseball season, teams will play two-thirds of their games against division rivals, with the balance being played against interleague counterparts from the corresponding division.

Today, theScore editors rank the teams in the Central Divisions:


1. Minnesota Twins

Projected Record World Series odds
34-26 +1500

The Twins won 101 games last season before they were promptly swept by the New York Yankees in the playoffs. In response, Minnesota's front office beefed up an already potent lineup with Josh Donaldson and added a trio of experienced arms to the rotation in Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill, and Homer Bailey.

On paper, this might be the best Twins club since the one that won the World Series in 1991, and they looked primed to do some serious damage during a shortened campaign. Minnesota owned a 40-20 record through its first 60 games last season.

2. Cincinnati Reds

Projected Record World Series odds
32-28 +2500

The Reds have a real chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012 following a very productive offseason. They landed All-Star infielder Mike Moustakas, doubles-machine Nicholas Castellanos, and Japanese import Shogo Akiyama in free agency to pair with slugger Eugenio Suarez and an aging Joey Votto.

Cincinnati's pitching staff is one of the best in the Senior Circuit with Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, and Trevor Bauer leading the rotation, and the bullpen features a bunch of guys who can rack up strikeouts in bunches.

3. Chicago Cubs

Projected Record World Series odds
32-28 +1800

Following September's collapse, the Cubs' unusually quiet offseason resulted in a number of question marks heading into the 2020 campaign. But they should be right back in the thick of things with only 60 games to play.

A lineup featuring Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber, and Willson Contreras can help plug a lot of holes in a hurry. Pitching remains a bit of an issue, so Yu Darvish's ability to build on his stellar finish to 2019 will go a long way toward determining Chicago's fate this year.

4. Chicago White Sox

Projected Record World Series odds
31-29 +2000

The White Sox initially looked like the young upstart team that might make some noise but would ultimately fall short of genuine contention. However, during an abbreviated campaign, they could do more than just turn some heads.

General manager Rick Hahn believes Michael Kopech could play an integral role in their success now after he was expected to be sidelined to begin the 162-game season. The team's depth, headlined by Yasmani Grandal and James McCann behind the dish and Jose Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion sharing time at first base and DH, will be a huge strength for the club during a year when injuries - or illness - can take down players for huge portions of the season.

5. St. Louis Cardinals

Projected Record World Series odds
31-29 +1500

The defending NL Central champs aren't all that exciting on paper after making minimal changes in the wake of last season's playoff exit. The Cardinals didn't really seem to be in a rush to replace Marcell Ozuna's bat, though, fortunately, top prospect Dylan Carlson could make an immediate impact if Tyler O'Neill or Lane Thomas struggle.

Additionally, the layoff could help some of St. Louis' aging vets, giving Paul Goldschmidt, Matt Carpenter, and Adam Wainwright extra time to rest their bodies and be fully rejuvenated.

6. Milwaukee Brewers

Projected Record World Series odds
29-31 +2800

The Brewers nearly took out the eventual World Series-champion Washington Nationals in the NL wild-card game last season, but the 2020 edition of the club looks a lot different than that of a season ago. Milwaukee's lineup still features one of baseball's best players in Christian Yelich, as well as talented outfielder Lorenzo Cain.

However, Grandal, Moustakas, and Eric Thames are all gone, so Avisail Garcia, Justin Smoak, Eric Sogard, and Omar Narvaez will try to fill the void left by those departed players. There are also question marks in the rotation after Brandon Woodruff, but having Josh Hader and a returning Corey Knebel anchor the bullpen makes the Brew Crew tough to beat if they have a lead in the late innings.

7. Cleveland Indians

Projected Record World Series odds
32-28 +2200

Will Cleveland decide to ship out Francisco Lindor amid a pandemic? The All-Star shortstop's name was floated around in countless trade rumors during the offseason. However, the club will be hard-pressed to receive a fair return before the Aug. 31 trade deadline.

The team lost Yasiel Puig and Corey Kluber this winter, and though it still has a lot of talent, the AL Central got tougher with the White Sox and Twins improving courtesy of several high-profile additions.

8. Detroit Tigers

Projected Record World Series odds
21-39 +50000

Anything can happen this season, but that might not help the Tigers, who should once again challenge for the league's worst record. Miguel Cabrera may have nothing left in the tank, Jeimer Candelario still hasn't fulfilled his promise, and veteran trade chips Cameron Maybin, C.J. Cron, and Jonathan Schoop might not turn into anything given the uncertainty of the campaign.

On the pitching side, a lot rides on Matt Boyd's ability to repeat his breakout 2019 campaign. If there's something for Tigers fans to look forward to, it's the possibility of 2018 top pick Casey Mize finally making his debut.

9. Kansas City Royals

Projected Record World Series odds
24-36 +30000

The Royals are almost definitely not as bad as people think they are. Jorge Soler had the quietest 48-homer season of all time last year, Whit Merrifield has proven to be an unbelievably valuable utility man, Adalberto Mondesi might be one of the most gifted baserunners in the league, Hunter Dozier posted an under-the-radar three-WAR season, and Sal Perez should be back to full strength.

Kansas City's pitching is its weak point, but it's worth noting that the bullpen - led by Ian Kennedy and Scott Barlow - ranked 17th last year by FanGraphs' WAR, which was better than the Nationals, Atlanta Braves, and Philadelphia Phillies, to name a few.

10. Pittsburgh Pirates

Projected Record World Series odds
24-36 +50000

Jameson Taillon and Chris Archer are injured, which means the Pirates have almost no chance of being a surprise contender. However, it's not all doom and gloom, as prospects Ke'Bryan Hayes and Mitch Keller should get extended looks. The latter is almost a lock to enter the season in the rotation.

Future lineup staples Oneil Cruz and Travis Swaggerty are less certain to make the leap but are included in the club's 60-man player pool reentering camp.

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