NL Central Power Rankings: Where do the Reds rank heading into the offseason?

After the Brewers were eliminated in the playoffs, the offseason has begun for every team in the NL Central.

Cincinnati Reds third baseman Noelvi Marte
Cincinnati Reds third baseman Noelvi Marte / Adam Hunger/GettyImages
3 of 5

The Cincinnati Reds 2023 season ended in disappointment after a surprising run toward the MLB Postseason came up just short.

But, at the end of it all, every team with the exception of the World Series Champion will head home with their head hung low. We saw this firsthand, as the NL Central champs, the Milwaukee Brewers, were knocked out in the Wild Card round by the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks.

With every NL Central now making their offseason plans, it seems like a good time to see where the five teams rank heading into the winter. How do the Reds rank compared to the rest of the division?

5. NL Central Power Rankings: Pittsburgh Pirates (76-86)

Sorry, Pirates fans. I know Pittsburgh finished ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central this season, but according to, both teams had an expected win-loss record of 71-91. The tie goes to the organization that's proven year-over-year to be one of the best in baseball.

The Pittsburgh Pirates finished the 2023 season with a -98 run differential; only three teams in the National League were worse. Those three were the aforementioned Cardinals along with the hapless Colorado Rockies and Washington Nationals.

Pittsburgh has some talent on their roster. Bryan Reynolds, who signed a contract extension this past year, is an All-Star caliber outfielder. If healthy, Oneil Cruz has all the tools to become a bonafide superstar. And Ke'Bryan Hayes is arguably the best defensive third baseman in the National League.

It's the starting pitching where the Buccos fall short. Mitch Keller took a step back this season. The Pirates bullpen, however, was solid. David Bednar leads the way, but former Cincinnati Reds reliever Dauri Moreta had a fine season. The Pirates also have Carmen Mlodzinski and Ryan Borucki in the bullpen.

It seems doubtful that Pittsburgh makes many additions through free agency during the offseason, but don't be shocked if Paul Skenes, this year's No. 1 overall pick, finds his way onto the Pirates Opening Day roster in 2024.

4. NL Central Power Rankings: St. Louis Cardinals (71-91)

Cardinals' fans are not used to being this bad. This was the first season the St. Louis Cardinals have missed the postseason since 2018. The Cardinals' 71 wins is their fewest since 1995. Think about that for one minute. Since 1995, the Cards have just five losing seasons.

If you expect the Cardinals to just sit on their hands this winter, you haven't been paying attention. St. Louis might be the most active team in free agency this offseason and will definitely be looking to upgrade their starting rotation.

As bad as the Cincinnati Reds pitching was this past season, St. Louis' was even worse. Only the Colorado Rockies and Washington Nationals allowed more run in the National League than the Cardinals. Look for St. Louis to target hurlers like Blake Snell, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Sonny Gray in free agency.

But the Cardinals' bats didn't really get it done in 2023 either. The Pittsburgh Pirates were the only team in the NL Central who scored fewer runs than St. Louis. The Cards had a -110 run differential this past season.

The Cardinals Top 5 leaders in bWAR this past season were position players. If the Cardinals are able to piece together some semblance of a starting rotation this winter, Oliver Marmol's ball club could valut to the front of the line very quickly.

3. NL Central Power Rankings: Chicago Cubs (83-79)

Yes, I'm aware that the Chicago Cubs had a better run differential than any team in the NL Central. But the Cubs choked away their postseason chances over the final few weeks of the 2023 season, and there's no way Chicago enters the offseason in better shape than the Cincinnati Reds.

Chicago handed the NL Wild Card spot to the Miami Marlins. The Cubbies lost 11 of their final 16 games in 2023, and after being swept by the Atlanta Braves during the final week of the season, David Ross' club had no shot at securing a playoff berth.

To be fair, this is about where most pundits expected the Cubs to finish before the season began. Chicago was seen as a mid-level contender that had an outside chance to sneak into the postseason. And that's about how their 2023 campaign went.

The Chicago Cubs have some nice building blocks. Justin Steele is a very good starter who was in the Cy Young conversation for most of the 2023 season. Nico Hoerner and Dansby Swanson formed a teriffic duo up the middle, and Cody Bellinger recaptured that swing that made him an NL MVP while with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Bellinger is free agent and will command a lot of money. Marcus Stroman has a player-option included his contract, so his status for 2024 is up in the air. The Cubs will likley be active in the free agent market, and have been mentioned as a potential trade destination for New York Mets' slugger Pete Alonso.

2. NL Central Power Rankings: Cincinnati Reds (82-80)

The Cincinnati Reds have to feel pretty good entering the offseason. After coming within an eyelash of making it o the MLB Postseason, the Redlegs have laid the foundation for what could be a very good 2024 campaign.

The Reds did most of their damage in 2023 with rookies. Andrew Abbott and Brandon Williamson helped to anchor the starting rotation, while Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Elly De La Cruz, Spencer Steer, Noelvi Marte, and Matt McLain look like fixutres in the Cincinnati lineup for years to come.

The Reds received little from their leaders in 2023. Jonathan India had an up-and down season and was sidelined by injury during the second-half of the season. Tyler Stephenson had his worse performance to date, and it appears as though Reds Coutry has seen the last of Joey Votto.

Injuries crippled the Reds in 2023. Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and Graham Ashcraft, all of whom were expected to lead the charge for the Reds this past season, spent more time on the IL than they did on the field.

The Reds bullpen played above expectations, but it would be foolish to expect that type of performance once again in 2024. Cincinnati Reds President of Baseball Operations Nick Krall will be a busy man this offseason with an eye on improving the team heading into next season.

1. NL Central Power Rankings: Milwaukee Brewers (92-70)

The Milwaukee Brewers had an impressive 2023 season, but an equally unimpressive showing in the MLB Playoffs. The Brew Crew were bounced out the postseason by the Miami Marlins despite having one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball.

The Brewers three-headed monster could be back in 2024. Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta are all under team control for at least one more season. With Burnes heading into free agency after next season, he could very well be dealt this winter.

In addition to their starting rotation, the Brewers had an outstanding bullpen once again. It's bee two years since Josh Hader was closing out games for Milwaukee, but Devin Williams has been just as dominant. Throw in Hoby Milner, Joel Payamps, and Bryse Wilson, and the Brewers' relief corps is flat-out filthy.

But who'll be leading the charge for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2024? Craig Counsell has yet to commit to being the team's manager next season, and the Brewers haven't entered a contract extension with the longest-tenured skipper in the NL Central.

The Brewers also have an extremely talented farm system, so don't expect Milwaukee to just fall off the map if both Burnes and Counsell dont' return in 2024. To be the man, you got to beat the man. And right now, the Milwaukee Brewers are tops in the NL Central.