Chicago Cubs Picked To Finish Fourth In NL Central By Expert Panel

The Chicago Cubs are in for a long 2020 season, according to a panel of experts put together by USA Today.

Tasked with predicting the final standings for the entirety of Major League Baseball in the upcoming season, those experts believe the Cubs are going to finish no higher than fourth in the NL Central. This prediction comes on the heels of the season that saw the team miss the postseason entirely for the first time since 2014.

If being picked to finish fourth wasn't bad enough for Cubs fans, the St. Louis Cardinals being the favorite to win the division will likely add insult to injury. The rest of the NL Central, according to these experts, lines up with the revamped Cincinnati Reds finishing second, the Milwaukee Brewers in third, and the Pittsburgh Pirates finishing as the only team behind the Cubs.

The article's writer, Gabe Lacques, admits the prediction is jarring, if only because the Chicago Cubs had some on the panel who foresaw a losing record for the team in 2020.

Just four years removed from a World Series championship, the Cubs are pegged for a high of 83 wins and a low of 80.

"A moribund off-season after three years of gradual decay won't win many caucuses," Lacques pointed out.

Chicago Cubs player celebrates
Getty Images | Jonathan Daniel

On the flip side, the Cincinnati Reds have impressed the experts with their active winter. Perhaps the biggest acquisition of the bunch is a slugging outfielder who spent part of last season in the Windy City. Nick Castellanos signed with Cincy a week ago, after rumors claiming there was still a chance he could return to the team where he had a breakout second half of the season lasted throughout most of the winter.

Last season, Castellanos hit 0.321 with 16 home runs in just 51 games for the Cubs. Those numbers were a large improvement from his first 100 games of 2019. With the Detroit Tigers, he hit just 11 homers.

The outfielder credited Wrigley Field for his offensive explosion. Now he'll be playing his home games in an even more hitter-friendly park. When it comes to who should finish near the bottom of the division, it was made clear the Brewers, Cubs, and Pirates could trade places.

Milwaukee's question has more to do with whether they can "pull another rabbit out of their hat" and compete like they did a year ago. The Cubs lack of action -- and the potential that they could still trade their best player -- has the outlet down on their chances to compete.