NL Central Predictions, Expert Picks and Odds for the 2020 MLB Season

Jason Schandl
NL Central expert picks have the Reds fighting for the top spot in the division in 2020.
NL Central expert picks have the Reds fighting for the top spot in the division in 2020. / Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Spring Training is underway and the 2020 MLB season is rapidly approaching. There's been no shortage of drama this offseason, and baseball fans can breathe a sigh of relief now that we have games to focus on, and the on-field product is once again the center of attention.

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 anyone sets their sights on 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

Predictions from USA Today come from their panel of six experts, 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 February 27, 2020.

USA Today: St. Louis Cardinals
PECOTA: Cincinnati Reds
Clay Davenport: Cincinnati Reds
FanDuel Sportsbook Favorite: St. Louis Cardinals

The NL Central is shaping up to be one of the most tightly-contested divisions in baseball, and our expert picks reflect that. PECOTA and Davenport both like the underdog Reds to win the division, while USA Today likes the betting favorites. The Chicago Cubs have the second-best odds, but interestingly none of the sources expect them to come out on top.

Cincinnati Reds Predictions 2020

USA Today: 85-77
PECOTA: 86-76
Clay Davenport: 86-76
FanDuel Sportsbook Win Total: 85.5
Odds to Win the NL Central: (+270)

These projections for the Reds are interesting, because while the three sources are in near-agreement on the win total, PECOTA and Davenport have the Reds winning the division, while USA Today has them finishing second.

St. Louis Cardinals Predictions 2020

USA Today: 88-74
PECOTA: 81-81
Clay Davenport: 78-84
FanDuel Sportsbook Win Total: 86.5
Odds to Win the NL Central: (+220)

The three are highly divided on what they expect from the 2019 NL Central champs. The betting odds are still high on the Cardinals, and USA Today agrees. PECOTA has them going .500 and finishing just third in the division, though, while Davenport has them stumbling to a 78-win season and finishing fourth.

Chicago Cubs Predictions 2020

USA Today: 82-80
PECOTA: 85-77
Clay Davenport: 83-79
FanDuel Sportsbook Win Total: 85.5
Odds to Win the NL Central: (+250)

The picks for the Cubs may look consistent, all between 82 and 85 wins, but each source has that meaning different things in the standings. PECOTA has them finishing second, Davenport has them in third and USA Today likes the Cubs to fall to fourth in the NL Central. While they're divided on the standings, all three have the Cubs coming in under their win total betting line.

Milwaukee Brewers Predictions 2020

USA Today: 84-78
PECOTA: 80-82
Clay Davenport: 85-77
FanDuel Sportsbook Win Total: 83.5
Odds to Win the NL Central: (+300)

Like the Cubs, the Milwaukee Brewers have projections to finish second (Davenport), third (USA Today) and fourth (PECOTA) come season's end. Unlike the Cubs, the sources are also split on where the value lies on the Brewers' win total.

Pittsburgh Pirates Predictions 2020

USA Today: 60-102
PECOTA: 70-92
Clay Davenport: 72-90
FanDuel Sportsbook Win Total: 69.5
Odds to Win the NL Central: (+8500)

The only unanimous seeding projection is that the Pittsburgh Pirates finish dead-last. There is a pretty big disparity in just how bad the sources think Pittsburgh's record will be, ranging from 90 to 102 losses, but it's no surprise that the betting odds have the Pirates as big long shots to finish at the top of the pack.

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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.