COMMENTARY | Sports are unpredictable, and that's one of the many reasons why they are so great, but making predictions will always be common practice among fans and media members. With the baseball season just around the corner, those predictions are coming in at a rapid pace, whether it pertains to a team's record, its place in the division or if it will win it all.
Predictions are rarely ever spot on, and for the Milwaukee Brewers, offseason projections have sent them down the path of mediocrity. Questions about experience in the starting rotation and a revamped bullpen have led to a majority of "experts" to ascertain that the Brewers will not only fail to reach the postseason but also come short of a winning record.
Even the addition of Kyle Lohse hasn't been enough to bump Milwaukee into contention in the eyes of many. But even though questions remain about the pitching side of the roster, that isn't the No. 1 reason the Brewers will fail to win the National League Central this season.
It comes down to this single factor:
Often mocked for being one of the worst divisions in baseball, the NL Central has benefited from addition by subtraction. The Houston Astros were the victim of realignment and moved to the AL West in order to give each league 15 teams for the 2013 season and beyond. No longer do teams in the Central have the privilege of beating up on the lowly Astros, although the Chicago Cubs are also currently in rebuilding mode.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are on the ascension and projected by some to finish ahead of the Brewers this season. Then there are the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals, who both figure to duke it out for the Central division crown. The Reds feature one of the best pitching staffs in baseball and can also swing the bat. The addition of Shin-Soo Choo makes an already scary lineup that much more dangerous.
St. Louis is a perennial contender and, even with the loss of Chris Carpenter to injury and Lohse to free agency, sports a pretty solid rotation. Emerging young arms in the bullpen and a potent lineup make the Cardinals a tough out as well, although like the Brewers and Corey Hart, they will have to weather the storm of a DL stint for David Freese to start the season. Plus, SS Rafael Furcal is out for the season.
Not only will the Brewers have to hold off the emerging Pirates, but the Cardinals and Reds also set up a roadblock that Milwaukee won't be able to overcome. While the Brewers may own the top offense in the division, the Reds and Cardinals are right there with them, and it's pitching that will make the difference.
Competing for a wild-card spot -- and maybe second in the division -- is all Milwaukee can ask for entering the 2013 season.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who contains an unhealthy amount of knowledge about Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline and as a featured columnist among other sites and publications.
You can follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_.
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