Reds Round Table: the NL Central

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This involved an informal poll. I asked all the participants about who they felt was the most underrated player in the NL Central. I wasn’t surprised at the results here. While we did see a handful of “nominees” (Bud Norris of the Astros, Cincy’s Drew Stubbs and Paul Janish, the Cubs closer Carlos Marmol, St. Louis left fielder Matt Holliday) the player most frequently named was Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Here’s BK from Red Reporter and his reasons why he says it’s McCutchen.

I’m going to go with Andrew McCutchen. He’s put up solid numbers at the plate every year, and has been even better this year, putting together a .289/.391/.495 line. Not only has he been excellent at the plate, but his putting up great defense in CF, and when factored together, is 2nd in the NL in Wins Above Replacement for position players, only behind Matt Kemp. The fact that he was left off the initial All-Star roster is an absolute joke, and he’s a big reason why the Pirates are where they are right now.

Not convinced? BRM’s Justin Hamilton weighs in for the Pirate, too.

I’ve got to go with the best player on the biggest surprise team in the Central as the most underrated NL Central player. The Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen is the most underrated player in the NL Central. A first time All-Star, McCutchen is on pace for a breakout year as he has already neared his 2010 totals in HR and RBI only halfway through the season. It’s good to see a homegrown talent make good for his team, and it won’t be long before McCutchen is no longer underrated.

Another poll was done for the divisional MVP. Was this ever a tight race. In fact, it was so tight that we had a tie between Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder and St. Louis’s Lance Berkman each receiving mention by three panelists. In explanation for the NL All-Star first baseman from the Brewers, we go to BRM’s Kerry Moss.

The first half MVP in the NL Central would have to be Prince Fielder. I’m not big on using RBI to measure a player’s ability, but the dude has 72 RBI in 91 games. He had only 83 RBI in 161 games last year. His OPS is .998 and he’s on pace for 40+ HR. For a team that isn’t pitching as well as they had hoped, he’s carried the load offensively.

And what about Berkman? Alex Apple of BRM presents his argument for the Cards right fielder.

Unfortunately for Reds fans, Lance Berkman has found new life in the Cardinals outfield. He has easily been the first half MVP in the NL Central. While Pujols was out and while he was struggling early in the season, Berkman was carrying the Red Birds’ offense. Berkman already has 24 HR, and he has not hit 30 HR since 2007, so Berkman has been the Red Birds ace in the hole. Lo and behold, even without Wainwright, the Cardinals are tied for first place at the All-Star break.

Onward we go to see about some arms now…