Monday, June 3, 2013

What Is Up With The National League Central

I know that it is hard sometimes to look closely at all the other division races when your team is in the middle of a four team battle royal in the American League East. But I was astounded when I noticed that the top two records in the entire league were in the National League Central. Leading the pack are the St. Louis Cardinals with a 37-19 record, followed closely by the Cincinnati Reds AND surprisingly the Pittsburgh Pirates with identical 35-22 records. The only American League team in the mix (record-wise) are the Boston Red Sox with a 35-23 record. I'll get to the Pirates in a few sentences but first the Cardinals and the Reds.

The Cardinals might be the best built organization in Baseball. Consider that in 2011 they lost Adam Wainright for the season and went on to win the World Series. Last year they lose Albert Pujols to free-agency and Chris Carpenter to injury for almost the whole season and finished with a 88-74, 2nd in NL Central. The would upset the #1 ranked National League team in the Washington Nationals in the five-game NLDS and lost to the eventual World Series Champion San Francisco Giants in seven games in the NLCS. This season they again lose their number two pitcher Carpenter to injury, have Kyle Lohse leave via free-agency and lose closer Jason Motte to season ending surgery AND have the best record in Baseball. Simply amazing. And with players such as Michael Wacha and Oscar Tavares as the future building blocks, the future is indeed bright for the Cardinals.

I picked the Reds as the team to win the National League Central and their loss to the San Francisco Giants after being up 2-0 in the NLDS only serves as the fuel to their proverbial fire. Led by Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, the Reds are a solid team from top to bottom. They don't have the standard ace that most rotations have. What they do have is three pitchers in Arroyo, Latos and Leake each with 5 wins a piece and a bullpen that is anchored by the intimidating fireballer Aroldis Chapman. I am definitely not surprised to see the Reds in the position that they are in.

Speaking of surprising. I know the Pirates have been slowly been improving year after year but who would have thought (except for Pirates fans) that after 57 games the Pirates would be tied for the second best record in Baseball. I'll be quite honest with you, aside from Andrew McCutchen, 2nd Baseman Neil Walker, starter Wandy Rodriguez, closer Jason Grilli and the former Yankees that are on the Pirates (AJ Burnett and Russell Martin), I couldn't tell you who the rest of the starters are on the Pirates. And that is sad on my part. I need to pay more attention to them. The Pirates are a dynamic and fun team to watch who because they play in Pittsburgh don't get much national air-time. If they continue playing the manner that they are and don't drop off like last season, we'll be seeing more of the Pirates on prime-time TV.

So we'll see how the next month or so plays out for three lead teams in the National League Central compared to the rest of the league.

Sisco Kid