2024 Division Outlook: NL Central

One league and three divisions down, one league and three more divisions to go. The 2024 MLB Season is right around the corner, and it's time to preview and highlight the five squads that make up the National League Central, a division that looks to be up for grabs in 2024.

St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers
St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers / John Fisher/GettyImages
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Cincinnati Reds

Nick Senzel, Elly De La Cruz
Cincinnati Reds v Cleveland Guardians / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Key Additions
- 1B/3B Jeimer Candelario
- RHP Frankie Montas
- RHP Nick Martinez
- RHP Emilio Pagan

Key Loses
- 1B/DH Joey Votto
- UTL Nick Senzel

If anyone challenges the Cubs for the NL Central crown this year, I fully believe it will be the Cincinnati Reds. Even if they aren't the best team in the division, they are most certainly the most fun team in the Central, if not all of Major League Baseball. Headlined by a stack of top prospects, the Reds broke out in 2023, and are looking to take the next step forward this year.

There are young stars up and down the Reds lineup, such as Elly De La Cruz, Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Matt McLain, and Noelvi Marte. Unfortunately, the last two will not start the season with the team, as McLain is dealing with an injury and Marte has been suspended 80 games for PEDs. Regardless, this Reds lineup can be really, really good this year. All the players mentioned above had their moments last year, good and bad, that they will all look to build upon heading into this year. While they had down years last year, Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson can still be an offensive threats at the top and bottom of the lineup, with veterans Jake Fraley and Jeimer Candelario look to be consistent contributors in the heart of David Bell's lineup. TJ Friedl will also begin the season on the IL, but will be looking forward to coming back and building off his breakout season from last year. The sky is the ceiling for this offense, as they have the chance to be one of the most prolific and fun lineups in all of baseball, but the production will be determined on how consistent the young guys can be.

Just like their offense, the Reds have some former top prospects ready to lead their rotation. While always being known as a guy that has that top of the rotation potential, Hunter Greene heads into 2024 ready to establish himself as just that. Fellow young guys Andrew Abbott, Graham Ashcraft, Nick Lodolo, and Brandon Williamson all join Greene as starters looking to establish themselves, and all four have the capabilites to do so. Unfortunately, the latter two will begin the season on the shelf with injuries, but are looking forward to getting back. Veteran free agent signings Frankie Montas and NIck Martinez will take their spots in the rotation to begin the season, creating a rotation that will be put to the test in Great American Ball Park, one of the more hitter-friendly venues in the big leagues.

Even if they don't win the division this year, the Cincinnati Reds are primed to be one of the most fun squads in the league this year, while still being good. While the Reds may not capture the division, I believe they can grab one of the three National League wild card spots and return to the playoffs come October.

Team MVP: Christian Encarnacion-Strand

Team Cy Young: Hunter Greene

Team X-Factor: Elly De La Cruz

The Nationals will open the season in Cincinnati for three games from March 28-31, and then host the Reds for three games from July 19-21.