MLB Predictions: Pirates Projected To Finish Near Bottom Of NL Central

As we get set for baseball’s Opening Day, here are a few predictions on how things might go in the N.L. Central:

Rob Neyer of SBNation.com predicts that the St. Louis Cardinals will win the division and that the Pirates will finish in fifth place with 70 wins.

You have to hand it to the Pittsburgh Pirates … They are literally the only team in the majors that’s finished in sixth place since 2006. Granted, they play in the only six-team division in the majors, but still: four straight sixth-place finishes is impressive, in its twisted way. Anyway, it says here the Pirates will not finish sixth in 2011, thanks to their passel of young and talented hitters. Granted, it’ll be a struggle but we’ve got them acing out the Astros for next-to-last place.

Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also predicts the Pirates will win 70 games.

Yahoo Sports has one of its authors picking the Pirates to finish fifth, with the other predicting they’ll finish last. Both have the Reds finishing first.

As a Pirates fan, I’m happy to see people projecting the Pirates will win 70 games, and there’s no doubt that the smart money has them winning more than they did last year, if only because losing 105 games is really, really hard to do. But I think 70 might actually be a bit optimistic, if only because the Bucs did little to upgrade a defense that was one of the biggest causes of their problems last year, and because I don’t think the offseason acquisitions (Lyle Overbay, Kevin Correia, Matt Diaz) will help much. I predict they’ll win 67 games.

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