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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sports Illustrated Picks Reds to Win NL Central; And Guess Who's on the Cover?

Posted By on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 10:03 AM

Sports Illustrated is out with its annual baseball preview. And surprise, surprise the cover fronts Albert Pujols and fold outs with comparisons ranking him among baseball greats DiMaggio, Williams and Aaron. SI also picks Pujol's new team, the Los Angeles Angels, to win the World Series.

As for the NL Central, the magazine gives the nod to the Cincinnati Reds. "The division crown is Cincinnati's for the taking," writes SI's Matt Gagne, who goes on to note that the Reds arguably have the most formidable pitching staff in the division with the acquisition of Mat Latos in the offseason and a healthy return of ace Johnny Cueto. The Reds also scored the second-most runs in the National League last year and belted the second-most homers in the league. So, yeah, they've got firepower.

As for the Cardinals...

SI predicts the Redbirds coming in a close second to Cincy (with a record of 87-75) but sees the gap left in Pujols' departure as too great for repeat as a playoff team this year -- even with an expanded wild-card team this season.

The magazine speculates that the Milwuakee Brewers will be the only other .500-plus team in the division, with the Pirates, Cubs and Astros all posting losing records -- again.

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