Saturday, July 7, 2012

Six Reds garner spot on Midseason All-NL Central Team

Wednesday's round of action around Major League Baseball officially marked the halfway point (81g) of the 2012 regular season. And although the official start to the second half doesn't begin until after the All-Star Break next week, right now still presents us a great chance to reflect upon the first half. With that said, I've compiled a 25-man roster full of the best-performing players from the National League Central Division through one half of the year.

(For those of you that want to take a look back on the RR Preseason All-NL Central Team click here:)

Redlegs Review Midseason All-NL Central Team:

C - Yadier Molina (STL)
1B - Joey Votto (CIN)
2B - Brandon Phillips (CIN)
SS - Starlin Castro (CHC)
3B - David Freese (STL)
OF - Ryan Braun (MIL)
OF - Carlos Beltran (STL)
OF - Andrew McCutchen (PIT)

INF - Jose Altuve (HOU)
INF - Rafael Furcal (STL)
INF - Aramis Ramirez (MIL)
OF - Matt Holiday (STL)
OF - Jay Bruce (CIN)

Starting Rotation:
SP - Zack Greinke (MIL)
SP - Johnny Cueto (CIN)
SP - James McDonald (PIT)
SP - Kyle Lohse (STL)
SP - Lance Lynn (STL)

LRP - A.J. Burnett (PIT)
RP - Mitchell Boggs (STL)
RP - Jason Motte (STL)
RP - Jason Grilli (PIT)
RP - Sean Marshall (CIN)
SU - Aroldis Chapman (CIN)
CL - Joel Hanrahan (PIT)

NL Central Midseason MVP - Andrew McCutchen (PIT)
Okay, so there may be a few Reds fans out there that are up in arms in protest over this pick, but let me justify my selection. One could do far worse than bestowing this honor to the Pirates All-Star center fielder. McCutchen currently leads all NL hitters in average (.360) and ranks among the top five in several offensive categories including on-base percentage (.412), slugging (.610), OPS (1.022), total bases (178), and runs created (69.8). He also has 54 RBI and 14 stolen bases to go along with his stellar glove and speed on defense. But maybe more impressive than all of that, however, is the fact that he's leading a franchise that has suffered 18-straight losing seasons atop the division standings. Pittsburgh could eventually fizzle out, and so could McCutchen, but as of now he stands to be the Most Valuable Player to his team in the Central, if not the entire league.

Runner-up: Joey Votto (CIN)

NL Central Midseason Cy Young - Johnny Cueto (CIN)
You've heard it said that the win-loss total for a pitcher is perhaps the most misleading stat in all of sports. I believe this holds true for Cueto and his 9-5 tally. The right-hander has been everything an ace should be in 2012 -- he's been a guy who you can depend on turning to for a dominating performance every time out there. He ranks among the top five in the league in ERA (2.35), innings pitched (114.2), complete games (2), and quality starts (14). What he doesn't rank high in though, is run support average. The Reds offense is scoring just 4.71 runs per every nine innings Cueto pitches. That ranks him 99th among all qualifying MLB pitchers in run support. Only three starting pitchers are averaging less run support average than that. So, don't let his modest 9-5 record fool you. Cueto has been the best pitcher in the division through 81 games this season.

Runner-up: Zack Greinke (MIL)

Tell us what you think about the selections in the comment section below. We'd like to hear your feedback!

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