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Ranking the Reds NL Central Competition: First Base

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As we plow down the tracks towards Major League Baseball once again, our next stop is to break down the National League Central first basemen and where they rank, 1-5.

#5 – Adam Lind – Milwaukee Brewers

A newcomer to the division, the long-time designated hitter for the Toronto Blue Jays attempts to be the stopgap for the Brewers, who have long been searching for a first baseman of any kind of merit.

Injuries torched him last season, but in the 290 at-bats he did have, he batted .321/.381/.479, which was good for the highest batting average of his career, had he qualified.

Lind had a 35-home run season back in 2009 when he played in 151 games for the Blue Jays. Why is he ranked last in the division? Two reasons: the first being, health. In two of the last three years, Lind failed to play in at least 100 games. All that while serving as the designated hitter—his body is yet to have the wear and tear of playing in the field every single day. Secondly, his transition to the National League. A Blue Jay for the first nine years of his career, switching leagues isn’t as easy as most make it seem. It may take Lind a bit of time to adjust to the new league.

#4 – Pedro Alvarez/Corey Hart – Pittsburgh Pirates

These Pirates like themselves a good ol’ platoon, eh? This one seems to be the old school, lefty/righty split, as the powerful Alvarez will likely see the majority of playing time against righties, while Hart will spell him when lefties take to the hill.

The precipitous fall of Alvarez just so happened to coincide with the meteoric rise of Josh Harrison. That combination ultimately led to Alvarez losing his third base job. Luckily for him, they had no one to play first base. The former second overall pick is coming off leading the National League in home runs in 2013 with 36; he cannot be discounted as one of the league’s premier power threats.

Due to the fact that Alvarez is a career .196 hitter against left-handed pitching, Corey Hart was brought in for insurance. A cagey veteran, Hart is looking for one last ride in the sunset as his baseball career winds down. He inked a 1-year/$2.5 million deal with the Pirates, which is a significant decrease in terms of his recent paychecks.

His job includes spelling Alvarez and providing right-handed pop off the bench for Pittsburgh. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, the rest of the NL Central boasts an impressive trio of first basemen.

#3 – Matt Adams – St. Louis Cardinals

While he feasts on the Reds every chance he gets, Matt Adams does actually make outs when he plays other teams. Last season was his first year of being handed the reins to the first base job full-time following the departure of Allen Craig, and many in St. Louis view it widely as a success.

Although he struck out 114 times, Adams hammered 15 long balls. While the level of power production was curious, Adams still managed to bat .288. Based on his body type, many expect “Big City” to come to the plate and attempt to mangle every baseball thrown his way, but he’s proven to be a dynamic hitter in all aspects.

When you throw in the protection he has around him (Matt Holliday in front, Yadier Molina behind), Adams is only going to continue to grow as a hitter and thrive for the Cardinals in the future.

#2 – Anthony Rizzo – Chicago Cubs

Rizzo could very easily be the top rated first baseman in the division, but he’ll need another massive year while Votto struggles in order for that to happen.

Besides his bold proclamation that the Cubbies will be winning the NL Central this upcoming year, Rizzo is one of the league’s steadiest and most likeable players. Heading into only his age 25 season, coming off a top-10 MVP finish, Rizzo is only getting better. On top of that, he has signed an extremely club friendly contract that takes him through at least 2019 with the north siders.

Although Rizzo has slammed eight career home runs against the Redlegs, his 17 RBIs and .241 batting average are the lowest against any of the divisional opponents.

Regardless of career statistics to this point, expect Rizzo to torment Cincinnati pitching for years to come.

#1 – Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds

There was strong consideration for bumping him down to second in exchange for Rizzo, but let’s be honest with ourselves: when healthy, Joey Votto is one of the premier hitters in all of baseball. The resentment for the inability to stay healthy is a puzzling one; the dissatisfaction for not driving in runs is as well. Chances are you sit firmly on one side of the fence on this issue and nothing anyone says will change your believes on this issue.

Remember, Votto is still the same ballplayer that won an MVP Award just five seasons ago. He may have lost some of that power, but that should only mean an increase in production inside of the yard.

Should he have another season of such a lack of production, he may get bypassed by Rizzo, but until that time, Votto is still the man.

Rankings in order:

1 – Joey Votto

2 – Anthony Rizzo

3 – Matt Adams

4 – Pedro Alvarez/Corey Hart

5 – Adam Lind

Other Positional Rankings

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