ALL NL CENTRAL TEAM-INFIELDERS
Let’s take a look at what I consider to be the best of the NL Central. Hopefully arguments and chaos ensue…
1B. Choices- Fielder, Lee, Pujols, Hatteberg, Berkman, LaRoche. Zoner selects: Prince Fielder. We have a changing of the guard. Last year Pujols saw his slugging drop over 100 points and his homers drop from 49 to 32. I definitely take into account his injuries. The problem is those injuries remain. And as close to Superman as he is, at some point he will not be able to play through it. Fielder was the 2007 NL Home Run champ, belting 50 homers and adding 35 doubles. He also showed patience at the plate with 90 walks. He will only be 24 in May. If Pujols was entirely healthy, I might change my mind. But for now, Prince is the king of NL Central first basemen.
2B. Choices- Sanchez, DeRosa, Kennedy, Matsui, Weeks, Phillips. Zoner selects: Brandon Phillips. Easy choice. In his second full season, Phillips was a 30-30 player and he should easily outperform the lot of mediocrity that plays 2nd in the NLC. He also turned 113 double plays last year, against just 8 errors.
3B. Choices- Ramirez, Glaus, Encarnacion, Bautista, Wiggington, Hall. Zoner selects: Aramis Ramirez. Another fairly easy choice. I did consider Glaus, but I think Ramirez is the better hitter and any difference in defense is negligible. I think coming back to the NL will be very beneficial to Glaus, and he’ll likely end up as the newest Cub Killer. But I think A-Ram wins this one.
SS. Choices- Theriot, Hardy, Ryan, Gonzalez, Tejada, Wilson. Zoner selects: J.J. Hardy. I picked Ryan to represent the Cards because Izturis is the latter-day, Cub version of Rey Ordonez. He’s a no-hit, slick fielding shortstop that–oops–can no longer pick it. That was apparent in Chicago, apparent in Pittsburgh and already apparent to the Cards. He’s hitting .163 this spring with 7 errors in 12 games. Why they gave him almost 3 million is anyone’s guess. Ryan will be the starter by May if not sooner, and that’s good news for Cards’ fans as he had a nice run in 60+ games in 2007. As for Hardy, he will likely crush 25 homers again and probably surpass .800 OPS, something no other NLC SS will be able to claim.
C. Choices- Soto, Molina, Towles, Ross, Paulino, Kendall. Zoner selects: Geovany Soto. Last year was Yadier Molina’s first decent year offensively, and that still barely got him past .700 OPS. He’s also coming off knee surgery. Soto is for now the darling of all Cubs fans after his monstrous 26 HR, .353 BA season in AAA. He also played well in a short stint with the big club, stealing the job away from a veteran in a playoff race. It’s hard for me to believe he won’t be good for at least 18-20 homers and a BA of around .275.
So there it is. Fielder, Phillips, Ramirez, Hardy and Soto. Outfielders will be next…
[tags]Cubs, Cardinals, Prince Fielder, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez[/tags]