The Cincinnati Reds are the favorites to win the National League Central in 2020. Or so that’s what the PECOTA projected standings say is the most likely outcome according to their simulations.
The system projects the Cincinnati Reds to finish at 86-76, just ahead of the Chicago Cubs who are projected at 84.5-77.5 (round up if you’d like – this is just the average win total for all of their simulations). That would be the fourth best record in the National League, trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, and Washington Nationals.
Things get a bit interesting, though, when you dive a little bit deeper. The Reds are projected to win the division 47.3% of the time that the simulation was run. Chicago took the division 32.6% of the time, with the Cardinals and Brewers both at 9.7% of the time. The Reds did make the playoffs in 66% of the simulations, though.
In another interesting piece of information, you can look at the chart for the different win totals for each team within the simulations that were run. Here’s what the National League Central looks like:
What’s interesting with the Reds is that they seem to have more times where they win 90+ games than anyone else in the division. What PECOTA is telling us here is that the Reds have a little more upside, and a little more likelihood of reaching it than the Cubs do. At least in their projections, the two of them are separated from the pack a little bit.
Matthew Trueblood, who writes at Baseball Prospectus, made this note earlier this morning about the Reds and Cubs on twitter:
To make it slightly easier to visual this, I overlaid the Reds and the Cubs distribution charts so we can see just how things stack up.
At the extreme ends of both sides of the curve, the Reds and Cubs are similar. It’s that larger middle section of most likely outcomes where Cincinnati separates themselves by just a little bit on both ends of that larger “middle” area.
The Reds went out and added plenty of talent to their team in the last six months. Picking up Trevor Bauer boosts the rotation and gives the team depth that most other teams in the league can only dream of. The team then went out and picked up free agents Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos – who combined for 154 extra-base hits in 2019 in the Major Leagues. And that’s not to forget that they also added outfielder Shogo Akiyama, who PECOTA seems to like quite a bit, as well as starting pitcher Wade Miley (who PECOTA isn’t exactly as high on).
The Cincinnati Reds may not exactly have a true superstar on their team like some of the other playoff contending teams do. But they are deep. They’ve got one of the better rotations in baseball with plenty of upside to it. And at the plate, they are able to mix-and-match quite well, while having a staples at second and third base that combined for 84 home runs last season.