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Ranking the NLC Shortstops: Starlin Castro a Cut Above the Others

There’s no question who sits atop the heap when it comes to the shortstops of the National League Central. There is, however, a debate that could evolve over the other five projected starters and the order in which they lie. This will (hopefully) take away any doubts or concerns.

This position was tough for a couple of reasons. One, where do you rank a guy you’ve seen all of 11 games. Two, there is such a mix of youth and veterans. Three (I just remembered another), after Castro, you can honestly put the other names in a hat, draw them out one-by-one, and you might be able to logically string together the other five.

Well, there might be an exception to that as you see, so it would be four.

1. Starlin Castro, Chicago
Can you honestly think of any other? Sure, his defense could use a little improving, but Castro gets to balls most of us can only dream of reaching.

Hard to not put him here.

Estimated WAR: 3.4

2. Rafael Furcal, St. Louis
Terms of his contract weren’t exactly fan friendly (two years, $14 million). Health is usually a concern whenever Furcal is the subject.

A full season would feel like a blessing.

Estimated WAR: 2.4

3. Alex Gonzalez, Milwaukee
Nothing flashy about him. I know the previous shortstop was nothing spectacular either, but I’m anxious/curious how this is an upgrade over Yuniesky Betancourt.

Not sure if there was a better option the Brewers felt they could afford, but one year at $4.25 million isn’t expensive…unless they felt they could retain Prince Fielder.

Estimated WAR: 0.9

4. Zack Cozart, Cincinnati
Yes, only 11 games, but there is a lot to like about his game. Better defensively than the credit he’s given and a step faster than people think.

What’s curious will be where Dusty Baker puts Cozart in the batting order.

Estimated WAR: 2.1

5. Clint Barmes, Pittsburgh
I’ve never been sold on Barmes at short although he’s a solid player at the position. Will be able to upgrade the stick while maintaining the defense as supplied by Ronny Cedeno?

Yes, I did that…

Estimated WAR: 1.5

6. Jed Lowrie, Houston
The Astros, going for a youth movement, bring in Lowrie. Not good defensively, has issues staying healthy. Could prove me wrong, but I don’t see this as an upgrade over Barmes.

Rebuilding?

Estimated WAR: 1.5

Recap

1. Castro
2. Furcal
3. Gonzalez
4. Cozart
5. Barmes
6. Lowrie

Castro is clearly the top. That cannot be debated. Yes, there are “issues”.

As you see the list, I think you can see why I made statement about putting the names in a hat. Some may say Gonzalez should be fifth, and some would agree. Some would say Cozart, due to limited time, should be fifth…and some would again agree. Furcal might be the only exception to landing fifth…might. And that’s where going from #2 to #5 was difficult.

The exception to the “hat” statement is Lowrie. I’m not a fan of Lowrie’s and I’m certainly not a fan of the trade to get him (and Kyle Weiland) in sending Mark Melancon the Red Sox.

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Tags: Alex Gonzalez Baseball Chicago Cubs Cincinnati Reds Clint Barmes Houston Astros Jed Lowrie Milwaukee Brewers MLB NL Central NL Central Division Pittsburgh Pirates Rafael Furcal St Louis Cardinals Starlin Castro Zack Cozart

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