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Predicting Cardinals' season record

ESPN Chalk's Joe Peta is sharing his season win total projections for every MLB team, including a reason for optimism and pessimism. Plus, he recommends an over/under play, or a pass. This is the entry for the St. Louis Cardinals.

St. Louis Cardinals

Reason for optimism: St. Louis' front office recognized and addressed 2014's weaknesses.

Reason for pessimism: The Cardinals need to improve a lot this year to win 90 games again.

It's quite possible that the Cardinals will be a much better team that they were last year and win fewer games. Let's step through the logic. St. Louis won the NL Central for the second year in a row, knocked off the mighty Dodgers in the NLDS and advanced to the NLCS despite only outscoring its opponents by 16 runs during the regular season. That run differential, which is more indicative of an 83-win team, wasn't the result of one-off events either -- the Cardinals had the same profile before and after the All-Star break. Basically it came down to this: The Cardinals played .582 ball (nine games over .500) in one-run games. That's an unlikely profile for almost all teams, but especially one with a below-average bullpen (10th in the NL in ERA.)