The 2011 Preseason All NL Central Team: The Infield

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Well, it’s time Blog Red Machine revealed its selections for the infield on the All NL Central Team. There are a few things to remember on this.

First, the other bloggers from FanSided’s NL Central’s blogs conducted a separate vote. I presented them with our results (as we had already planned on doing such) when it was announced FanSided was to be producing something similar. At the end of last season, I produced BRM’s first ever All NL Central team and wanted to have a little enjoyment with the same before the season began. The FanSided NL Central bloggers position player results will be released on Monday.

Second, all four of us here participated (Alex, John, Justin and myself). We were to name three players for each position. Points were awarded on a 5-3-1 basis. The player with the most points were obviously selected as the choice. In the result of a tie (and there was one), the player receiving the most first place votes was deemed as the selection. Fortunately, we didn’t have to go any further in the line to decide.

So, without further ado, here is BRM’s Preseason All NL Central Team for the infield.

First Base: Joey Votto, Reds

Votto had himself a spectacular 2010. Spectacular enough to win the NL MVP. Reds fans will have their favorite Votto moment from last season. Perhaps the most notable for many was the battle with Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton during a game on August 22 when the Reds were visting LA. On the tenth pitch of the at-bat, Votto laced a single into left field, plating two. That gave the Reds a 5-2 lead. Did I fail to mention the bases were loaded with two outs? Did I also fail to mention that the Reds held a 3-2 lead prior to Votto’s hit? Oops. I did until now.

Here’s something that may shock you. Votto was not the unanimous choice. There was one person that voted for Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals. I was that person. Why? I think we must keep in mind that we need to be a bit objective on this. Pujols has a decade of excellence under his belt. Even though there’s all the jabber about his contract talks (or maybe even lack thereof), I still believe he will once again get his 30+ HR, 100+ RBI and .300+ batting average. I am by no means saying Votto won’t do the same.

Second Base: Rickie Weeks, Brewers

This selection may shock a few, but this was the voting that produced a tie in regards to points earned. The difference was Weeks received two first place votes while Brandon Phillips received one. And to make it even more intriguing was that both Weeks and BP were named on all four ballots. Weeks received one first plave vote, one second and two third place nods. BP snared one first place vote and three seconds.

Personally, I don’t think you can go wrong with either. Weeks may be a bit better with the bat and Phillips, well, he’s won a couple of Gold Gloves. It depends on if you want the bat or the glove, right?

Well, Weeks put up numbers in 2010 that are similar to the numbers BP put up from ’07-’09. As close as this vote was, I wouldn’t be shocked if they both produce numbers similar to each other for 2011.

Third Base: Casey McGehee, Brewers

This vote was tied for the second closest among the staff. To me, McGehee put up such excellent numbers on 2010, it would be hard to not include him in the top two. So did my counterparts here. It’s almost a travesty to leave a guy off such a team when he plated 100+ runs, had 20+ HR and hit .285. He’s the forgotten guy with all the publicity that Prince Fielder, Weeks, Ryan Braun and Corey Hart get. You seriously cannot forget what he brings with his bat.

Can you guess who was second in our vote? That would have been Pedro Alvarez of the Pttsburgh Pirates. His sample size was smaller than that of McGehee’s but he also had an excellent 2010. Maybe Alvarez grabs the postseason honor here.

Shortstop: Starlin Castro, Cubs

In all honesty. I thought Castro would be a runaway winner here. Was I ever wrong. In fact, Castro was not even mentioned on one ballot. No question the kid had himself a fine 2010 season, And the ceiling is only raising for him. If there’s one aspect of Castro’s game that does need tightening up it’s his glove. Hitting .300 could make Cubs fans forget some of the errors, but for how long?

Castro simply brings a little air of excitement to a game. You can’t explain it. At any time, you might see something spectacular from him.

A close second was the new Cards/former Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot. Castro’s youth and high ceiling may have nailed the former Cub.

Catcher: Yadier Molina, Cardinals

I know. I know. This won’t be the most popular selection among Reds fans after what transpired last season, but cannot deny how valuable Molina is to the Cardinals. I know I can’t. Think about this. He’s more than just a catcher for them. He’s almost like having another pitching coach plus opposing would-be base runners rarely think about running on him. Just how valuable is that? You always keep a double play alive if you continually put that thought in the opponent’s head. Grounding a running game is something very, very few teams can do.

No question that Molina is not a heavy hitter. His career high in homers is 8. In RBI, it’s 62 (last season). Yet, Molina is constantly mentioned as the one of the best in the game…because of his defense and baseball savvy.

Molina’s selection also produced the second largest margin of victory in our balloting.

There’s our infield. A quick recap:
1B: Votto
2B: Weeks
3B: McGehee
SS: Castro
C: Molina

Tomorrow, the outfield.