The Duel

NL Central Predictions and Expert Picks for the Shortened 2020 MLB Season

Jason Schandl
NL Central predictions have the Cubs competing for the top spot in the division.
NL Central predictions have the Cubs competing for the top spot in the division. / Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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After an incredibly hectic offseason, the 2020 MLB season is finally upon us, with Opening Day on July 23rd rapidly approaching.

The 2020 World Series race is wide open, but some early favorites stand out in the field: the Houston Astros, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees. Before they worry about the World Series, though, teams need to focus on the regular season and take care of their division.

With that in mind, here is how industry experts see the National League Central shaping up in 2020.

Picks to Win the National League Central

ZiPS Projections come from Dan Szymborski on FanGraphs, PECOTA projections come from Baseball Prospectus, and Clay Davenport (who co-founded Baseball Prospectus) projections come from his personal website. FanDuel Sportsbook win totals and odds to win the division are as of July 15, 2020.

ZiPS: Chicago Cubs
PECOTA: Cincinnati Reds
Clay Davenport: Cincinnati Reds
FanDuel Sportsbook Favorite: Chicago Cubs/Cincinnati Reds (+230)

The NL Central is being projected for a big shakeup in 2020. None of the experts project the St. Louis Cardinals to repeat as champions, and all three project a division winner that didn't even make the postseason in 2019. The betting odds agree, giving the Cubs and Reds equal odds as the favorites to win.

Chicago Cubs Predictions 2020

ZiPS: 32-28
PECOTA: 31.5-28.5
Clay Davenport: 31-29
FanDuel Sportsbook Win Total: 31.5
Odds to Win the NL Central: (+230)

The group is split exactly on this win total from FanDuel Sportsbook. One has them finishing over by half a game, one has them finishing under by half a game, and the third has them projected right at the total. Only ZiPS has them winning the division.

Cincinnati Reds Predictions 2020

ZiPS: 31-29
PECOTA: 33-27
Clay Davenport: 33-27
FanDuel Sportsbook Win Total: 31.5
Odds to Win the NL Central: (+230)

Both PECOTA and Davenport have the Reds winning the division, and they also both project them to clear the over by a big margin. ZiPS has the under hitting by a small margin, and they have the Reds finishing just fourth in the division.

St. Louis Cardinals Predictions 2020

ZiPS: 31-29
PECOTA: 30-30
Clay Davenport: 29-31
FanDuel Sportsbook Win Total: 31.5
Odds to Win the NL Central: (+240)

Last year's champs are only barely behind the Cubs and Reds in the odds, but all three projection sources have the Cardinals finishing under their win total. None have them finishing in the top two in the division.

Milwaukee Brewers Predictions 2020

ZiPS: 31-29
PECOTA: 30-30
Clay Davenport: 33-27
FanDuel Sportsbook Win Total: 30.5
Odds to Win the NL Central: (+350)

Davenport and ZiPS both have the Brewers finishing second in the division, while PECOTA has them fourth. That same 2-1 split exists on projections around their win total, with ZiPS and Davenport on the over.

Pittsburgh Pirates Predictions 2020

ZiPS: 26-34
PECOTA: 26-34
Clay Davenport: 27-33
FanDuel Sportsbook Win Total: 25.5
Odds to Win the NL Central: (+7000)

All three sources are unanimous in projecting the Pirates to finish last in the division. They are, however, also unanimous in projecting the Pirates to hit the over.


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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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