Cubs fans are in for an exciting ride when baseball kicks off, according to Fangraphs.

The site released its annual ZiPS standings projections on Wednesday, and it has the Cubs winning the NL Central by only one game, with a 32-28 record. Making matters more intriguing is the fact that ZiPS has the Cardinals, Brewers and Reds all tied for second place at 31-29.

It’s easy to see why ZiPS thinks the NL Central will be competitive: The Cubs still have their uber-talented core with a new skipper at the helm, the Cardinals are coming off a 91-win season, the Brewers bring back a healthy Christian Yelich, and the remodeled Reds have a new formidable roster after major offseason moves.

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But before you go off celebrating another Cubs division title before a Spring Training begins again, it’s important to take these projections with a grain of salt.

Last year ZiPS also had the Cubs winning the division with 87 wins, and well, we all know how that turned out. It also remains to be seen how a shortened season will affect the final standings, and the models that project them. Will over 100 fewer games rule out the law of large numbers that typically allows the best of the best teams to rise to the top? For instance, last year’s World Series winning Washington Nationals were 27-33 after 60 games-- a far cry from their 93-69 finish.

Only time will tell, but until then it’s fun to fantasize about the season to come.

 

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