I’m set with the task of bringing the biggest division with what some people say the worst teams together to make one All-NL Central Team. You might say that’s a tough task, but when put together including last years World Series Champion Cardinals and some up and coming stars, I think that the pitching alone would make them very competitive with the other divisional teams. Here’s how the NL Central breaks down:
1) Andrew McCutchen, Center Field, Pirates
There’s no arguing here. Andrew McCutchen has been getting on base at an incredible rate of .460 this season after signing a long term extension with the Pirates. He’ll get on base, steal bases, and score runs, which is just what we’re looking to do. Look for McCutchen to be a staple among the NL Central for a long time.
Honorable Mention: Jon Jay, Cardinals
2) Rafael Furcal, Shortstop, Cardinals
What better to follow off your lead-off speed with more speed. Rafael Furcal has certainly become one of the elite shortstops in the game and his .364 batting average leads all other shortstops in the NL. Not only that, he’ll drive in runs and can hit the occasional home-run now and then. It’s a no doubter for the two spot in the lineup.
Honorable Mention: Starlin Castro
3) Ryan Braun, Left Field, Brewers
You certainly can’t expect to take the reigning NL MVP out of his three hole on the All Divisional squad. After the rocky off season amidst PED abuse, Braun has come back to Milwaukee with a chip on his shoulder. He is always a threat to knock one out of the park and has enough speed to keep the pitchers off balance on the base paths.
Honorable Mention: Matt Holliday, Alfonso Soriano
4) Joey Votto, First Base, Reds
With the departure of Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols, Joey Votto takes the role of “Best 1B in the NL Central” award, a title that he’s earned over the last few seasons. With the potential to hit over 30 home runs, Votto also hits for average and has an incredible eye at the plate, always taking at least 2 walks in a series.
5) David Freese, Third Base, Cardinals
Did any of you watch Game 6 of the World Series? Yes? Then there shouldn’t really be a need to explain this choice. Freese came strong onto the scene in the last few months of the 2011 season and has certainly made his presence felt after the start of this season. I might be tempted to flip him up into the clean-up spot, but he’ll have to earn that this year. Let’s just say slugging .625 isn’t a joke. Carry on.
6) Carlos Beltran, Right Field, Cardinals
Carlos has had a few off years, but certainly is surging back into the limelight after a quick start this season. He’s hit 5 dingers and has a batting average of .333. The power he brings to the bottom half of this lineup will make pitchers shake in their boots. He may be 34, but that doesn’t change the fact the man can hit, and far.
Honorable Mention: Jay Bruce, Corey Hart
7) Yadier Molina, Catcher, Cardinals
Might as well just wrap up the three Cardinals in a row with Yadier batting seventh. He could also be moved up a bit in this lineup, but picking between all of these players isn’t easy! (Plus, a little pop at the bottom of the lineup never hurt anyone) Yadier is this generations Ivan Rodriguez as he’s been an offensive and defensive staple to the Cardinals.
8) Rickie Weeks, Second Base, Brewers
Rickie has had a very up and down career that’s been riddled with little injuries, but he’s back and ready to perform. The reason he’s so low down on the lineup is because he tends to strike out quite a bit. His defensive presence can’t be overlooked though. Every week he makes an incredible play that makes you turn your head.
Yovani Gallardo, Brewers
Chris Carpenter, Cardinals
Zach Greinke, Brewers
Johnny Cueto, Reds
Matt Garza, Cubs
Yes, there are other teams in the NL Central besides the Brewers and Cardinals, but their pitching staffs dwarf the rest of them. I don’t see how you can keep Greinke and Gallardo out, and with how Carpenter has pitched his whole career, he’s a shoo-in. Johnny Cueto has been an up-and-coming strike out king and has really developed his repertoire, while Garza is coming off of a great year and has shown a lot of prowess early this season.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Dempster, Wandy Rodriguez, Kyle Lohse, Adam Wainwright, Shawn Marcum, Jaime Garcia
Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers
Aroldis Chapman, Reds
There’s no question that these two have what it takes to lock down the 7th and 8th innings. K-Rod may be a little wild at times, but when his stuff is on, it’s nearly unhittable. Speaking of unhittable, Aroldis will burn you with a 100+ mph fastball and then throw an off-speed pitch to get you out. No one likes standing in front of that.
John Axford, Brewers
Jason Motte, Cardinals
As a Brewer fan at heart, I couldn’t leave out John Axford from this short list. After his stellar 2011 season, he’s earned the spot. Jason Motte is never a bad choice to come in ahead in the 9th inning. He won’t cost you many games and throw strikes, two things a closer needs.
Hope you like the lineup that has been laid out before you. If not? Let us know what you think below!