ALL NL-CENTRAL TEAM: INFIELD
The All NL-Central team…if only to give Cardinals fans something to cheer about.
1B- Pujols, Lee, Fielder, Berkman, Votto, LaRoche
The Pick: Albert Pujols. Pujols may not be on steroids but he should be checked for human DNA. Last year I selected Prince Fielder only because I doubted Pujols’ ability to stay on the field for the whole season. Silly Zoner. Pujols instead played in 148 games, topped 100 walks for the first time and hit 37 bombs with a line of .357/.462/.653. Fielder quit eating meat — and hitting like he did in 2007. His numbers dropped across the board.
2B- Schumaker, Fontenot, Weeks, Matsui, Sanchez, Phillips
The Pick: Brandon Phillips. Phillips was another player who saw his numbers plummet in ’08. But he still hit 20-20 and made only 7 errors at 2B. He’s no doubt an out-machine. The only other consideration is Fontenot. But I’m not sure Fontenot (.305/.395/.514) will be able to duplicate his performance last year, nor get the requisite at-bats to do so.
3B- Ramirez, Blum, Encarnacion, Freese/Glaus, Hall, LaRoche
The Pick: Aramis Ramirez. With Troy Glaus reportedly now out until June, Ramirez becomes the easy pick of this group. Bill Hall had a brutal year in 2008, and his 35-HR season in 2006 seems like a fluke. Encarnacion is a nice player, but Ramirez continues to be the pick here. Ramirez had a career-high OBP last year (.380) and pounded 44 doubles and 27 HRs.
SS- Theriot, Gonzalez, Greene, Tejada, Wilson, Hardy
The Pick: J.J. Hardy. Hardy is another holdover from last year’s list. I predict Khalil Greene will be vying for Comeback Player of the Year — and driving Cubs fans nuts with spectacular defense — but I still like Hardy’s bat enough to make him the pick here. With 2 full seasons under his belt, Hardy may take the next step as a hitter — 30 HRs and a .500 slugging percentage.
C- Soto, Kendall, Molina, Rodriguez, Doumit, Hernandez
The Pick: Geovany Soto. I was given plenty of oppostion with my pick of Soto last year. He wasn’t a good defender, he had less than a hundred career at-bats, he’s on the Cubs…on and on. Well Soto proved he was worth the hype. He hit 23 homers and slugged over .500. He was also solid defensively. The great almighty Yadier Molina threw out 34% of his baserunners and made 10 errors. Soto threw out 29% and made 5 errors. And the icing on the cake was Ted Lilly absolutely facing Molina in a collision at the plate last year. So yeah, it’s Soto again this year.
[tags]Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals[/tags]