BRM Presents the Inaugural All-NL Central Team


With the regular season behind us and the postseason in the vision of eight teams throughout MLB, it’s time for a little postseason hardware…sort of.

With today’s post we’ll look at those within the National League Central that had outstanding seasons. You might think there will be a slant toward the Cincinnati Reds considering this is a Reds blog, but that is not the case. Believe it or not, all six teams in the NL Central have a representative on the team. It has nothing to do with the All-Star rule that each team be represented. It has to do with good baseball.

Before the team is unveiled, a little bit of explanation. All positions have one winner including relief pitcher and closer. The outfield positions are based on the actual playing position (LF, CF, RF). The starting pitcher position has three honors. A number of factors went into the selection including both offensive and defensive numbers for the position players. Pitching numbers only were used in determining the five overall pitching slots.

Here’s BRM’s All-NL Central Team for 2010:
Catcher: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
Of all the position players, this was the easiest to select. While Molina isn’t exactly an offensive powerhouse, no one can dispute what Molina means defensively and to the Cards pitching staff. With throwing out almost 49% of all would be base stealers, that made things all the easier.

First Base: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
This was close. Very close as there was serious consideration for Albert Pujols. But Votto edges out the Cards superstar based on his performance away from Great American Ball Park, a perceived hitter’s paradise. Votto, also considered an NL MVP candidate, also had a great defensive season and was only .002 points behind Pujols in fielding percentage.

Second Base: Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers
Not a glove, but what a bat Weeks has. He had a shot a 30 home runs this season, but came up short in a last day effort. While Weeks does not possess the speed he once had, he can still cause havoc from the leadoff spot.

Third Base: Casey McGehee, Milwaukee Brewers
This was also a close one. The Reds’ Scott Rolen has all the intangibles in his favor. A better fielder, too, but how can you leave a guy off the team that had 100+ RBI? You simply can’t.

Shortstop: Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs
It came down to Castro and Cincy’s Orlando Cabrera. While Cabrera was by far the better fielder, Castro more than makes up the difference with his bat, ending the 2010 season with an even .300 batting average. Castro and Cabrera played in about the same number of games to make the selection of Castro a little easier. Like at third base, Cabrera has the immeasurables advantage, too, but Castro’s offense was too much to overlook.

Left Field: Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals
In Holliday’s first full season in St. Louis, Cards fans could not have asked for any better season from Holliday. Oh, the start wasn’t good, but after a couple of minor adjustments, Holliday was more than capable of helping the Cardinals either stay in front of the Reds or close. Much was made about his error in last year’s playoffs, but Holliday isn’t nearly as bad as one play makes him out to be.

Center Field: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
Cutch is one of the bright spots the Pirates hold. Let’s hope they continue to hold onto him, too. He’s the right person to help energize a franchise that has suffered through 18 consecutive losing seasons. He has help coming up through the system, but McCutchen is another leadoff guy that can create nightmares for opposing pitchers. The Pirates can build around this budding star.

Right Field: Corey Hart, Milwaukee Brewers
Talk about close. This was almost as close as the selection at first base with Houston’s Hunter Pence and Cincy’s Jay Bruce battling it out with Hart. Hart’s offensive numbers were impressive (.283, 31 HR, 102 RBI, better than the others) for a Milwaukee team that lacked pitching depth. Plus, Hart is among the better fielding outfielders in the National League.

Starting Pitchers:
1. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
I still think Wainwright got rooked out of last year’s Cy Young award. He’s got a legit shot at it again this season with Philly’s Roy Halladay being his biggest threat. In six major pitching categories (innings, wins,strikeouts, WHIP, ERA and quality starts), Wainwright ranked either first or second among all NL Central starters.

2. Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals
Like the categories mentioned in Wainwright’s write-up, Carpenter ranked in the top five among all NL Central starters. Carpenter receives a lot of negative press due to being outspoken, but no one, and I mean no one will every doubt that this guy can flat out pitch.

3. Brett Myers, Houston Astros
Myers would be the suprise inclusion on the team, but it’s well deserved. In the same six determining factors, Myers was also in the top 5 in each.

In fact, only Wainwright, Carpenter and Myers ranked in the top 5 in all six. That’s the reason for their selections.

Relief Pitcher: Arthur Rhodes, Cincinnati Reds
Close as well here with Pittsburgh’s Evan Meek being more than worthy.

Closer: Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs
At times Marmol can make your heart ship a beat…or ten, but his stuff from a closer’s point of view is as electric as it gets. Marmol has the potential to be MLB’s most dominant closer is he can harness his control and that was on display toward the end of the season. This was not all that close in slecting Marmol even though Cincy’s Francisco Cordero had more saves and Houston’s Brandon Lyon was more consistent.

Now, the individual honors. In keeping with an NL Central these, the individual hioonrs are named after players that played on NL Central teams.

Rookie of the Year (Bill Virdon Award): Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs
The award is the Virdon based on the fact that Virdon won the ROY in 1955 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals and also played for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He also managed the Pirates and Houston Astos. Virdon’s connection to the NL Central teams in undeniable. Castro edges out St. Louis’ pitcher Jaime Garcia.

Manager of the Year (Sparky Anderson Award): Dusty Baker, Cincinnati Reds
Naming this the Anderson was simple since Sparky was the driver of the Big Red Machine. And naming Baker as the recipient was also just as easy. No one, except maybe the Reds players and brass and ESPN’s Aaron Boone, tagged the Reds as winning the division.

Pitcher of the Year (Bob Gibson Award): Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
After very little condieration…Gibson’s name is synonomous with pitching excellence…and so is Wainwright’s.

Player of the Year (Ernie Banks Award): Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
Wanted to get a multiple NL MVP Award winner from an NL Central team. Could have selected Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench or even Stan Musial. There was already an award named after someone on the Big Red Machine and the Baseball Bloggers of America have an award named after Musial. So…let’s play two! And Votto is the NL Central’s Banks Award winner.