The positional players for Blog Red Machine’s Second Annual All NL Central Team is now up. There are virtually no surprises here as one choice was unanimous and the other two positions were more than solid wins.
A quick note on how the vote was conducted. Five BRM staff members submitted ballots. For each position, they were to name their top three at each. Points were awarded on a 5-3-1 basis (5 for a first place and so on).
Left Field – Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
You simply could not find a more viable candidate for this than Braun. He built an extremely solid resume’ as not only being BRM’s left field selection, but also for the NL MVP. He was the only played named on all five ballots cast.
Hard to argue with this line, isn’t it? Braun produce a 30/30 season, hit over .300, drove in and scored over 100 runs plus led the National League in both slugging percentage and OPS. Braun was consistent for both halves of the season, too. For the first half, his stats were 16 HR, 62 RBI, 19 SB, slash: .320/.402/.559 in 83 games. After the All-Star break (67 games), Braun accounted for 17 HR, 49 RBI, 14 SB, slash: .346/.392/.642.
Center Field – Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
The center field position had more names mentioned than I thought it would, but Andrew McCutchen snagged the top honors even though he wasn’t named on all the ballots. It did help that on the four in which he was mentioned, he was also the top choice. The other first place vote was cast for Carlos Gomez of Milwaukee.
What is interesting in McCutchen’s selection is that he did not have a 2011 season that we are used to seeing from him. Despite this drop in production, he still had a decent year. While McCutchen did see a decline in his batting average, his on-base percentage was on par to his first two seasons and his slugging and OPS were not far off his norm. McCutchen did post his highest WAR (5.5) and also posted career highs in home runs, RBI and walks (89).
You could say the decline in his batting average and his steals could be tied to this fact. In the 157 games in which he started, McCutchen was not in a fmailiar place, batting leadoff. He was in the trird slot most of the time (82 games) and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle also tried him in the cleanup spot for 27 games.
Right Field – Lance Berkman, St. Louis Cardinals
The right field position was only the second position in which only three players were mentioned on all five ballots. Berkman captured 4 of the 5 first place nods and the Cincinnati Reds Jay Bruce garnered the other.
Berkman found his new team in St. Louis as a rebirth. We saw many reminders of the Lance Berkman from his days as a member of the Houston Astros. He cracked his most home runs since 2007 (34), drove in his most runs since 2008 (106), and posted his highest batting average since 2008 (.312). IF you compare Berkman’s season to those of Bruce and Corey Hat of Milwaukee, neither could approach his slash line.
Another facet of Berkman’s game that does deserve mention: 92 walks and 93 strikeouts. Again, neither Bruce (71/158) nor Hart (51/114) could match Berkman. Granted, both might be better in the field (although on occasion, Hart was lifted), Berkman was clearly superior at the plate.
Coming up next will be the pitchers.