Infield: 9th; Outfield: 9th; Starting pitching: 17th; Bullpen: 5th
Manager: 9th; Overall: 8th
What is it with headcases in the NL Central?
There's Zack Greinke of the Brewers and reigning MVP Joey Votto of the Reds, who suffered through some psychological issues back in 2009.
Fortunately for the Reds and their faithful, Votto seemed to completely overcome those troubling issues en route to an incredible 2010 campaign and some very hard-earned hardware.
Votto is the cornerstone of this Reds club that I have selected to repeat as champions of the NL Central. I like Cincinnati's balance and mix of young and veteran players.
Manager Dusty Baker has a good problem on his hands: too many solid starting pitchers.
Right-handers Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, and Edinson Volquez should have spots locked up, but Travis Wood, Mike Leake, and Homer Bailey are in a three-way battle for the remaining pair of openings.
Wood should have an upper hand on one of the openings because he'll be the only lefty in the rotation. Handedness aside, he's a good enough pitcher.
Righties Leake and Bailey both have good stuff. Leake is younger and expected to be one of the Reds' top starters for quite some time, so I imagine he has a slight advantage over Bailey.
Bailey was in a similar situation a few years back but has never fully turned the corner. He's shown flashes of greatness and that's why the Reds' front office has refrained from dealing him.
I love their young outfielders Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs. Both haven't made as much contact as the coaching staff would like, but they have the potential if they improve their plate discipline. They clearly have the ability to do so.
Stubbs has electrifying potential -- he was a 20-homer, 30-steal guy last season. He'll continue to reap the benefits of a favorable home ballpark, and Bruce should be good for 30-plus dingers of his own.
The quiet strength of this team is its bullpen. Francisco "Coco" Cordero will always take the ball and, more often than not, finds a way to get it done.
Setup men Nick Masset and Aroldis Chapman are as good as they come as a righty-lefty combination. I think Bailey would also be effective as a convert.
In the end, the Reds are the defending champions of this division and they don't have any glaring weaknesses. Their manager is experienced and passionate, their star will be a perennial MVP candidate, their pitching is deep and they have a nice balance of raw talent and veteran leadership.
Can you say, "Repeat?"