Best Player in NL Central: Now that Spring Training has begun throughout Major League Baseball, it is time to start taking a closer look at the rosters in the National League Central Division. This division is expected to be very competitive this season, but there aren’t many World Series title contenders in the bunch.
Instead of looking at a breakdown of each team, this is a look at the best players at each position in the National League Central Division. Unfortunately for Cubs fans, there will be several Cardinals starters on the list.
There are three strong candidates for the best catcher in the NL Central Division. Tucker Barnhart (Reds), Yadier Molina (Cardinals) and Willson Contreras (Cubs) are all in the mi.
Barnhart is the reigning Gold Glove Award winner at this position, and Yadier Molina has a whole stash of them at his house. Contreras is getting better defensively, but he is clearly the best offensive player in this group.
When looking at the complete package, Willson Contreras is the best catcher in the NL Central.
With apologies to Joey Votto (Reds), this is a two-man race between Anthony Rizzo (Cubs) and Paul Goldschmidt (Cardinals. Both Rizzo and Goldschmidt are elite defenders that are in the middle of the lineup for their respective teams.
Rizzo continues to put up solid numbers, but he has not taken that next step to stardom. Goldschmidt is a 30 home run, 100 RBI man nearly every year, and he gets the edge over Rizzo at this point in time.
The second base position in the NL Central is not very strong, and several players have been traded throughout the division at this position. Kolten Wong and Mike Moustakas are the top two contenders for this title.
Kolten Won won the Gold Glove Award a season ago with the St. Louis Cardinals, but he is now a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. Ironically enough, he is the best second baseman in the NL Central heading into the season.
Eugenio Suarez of the Reds and Kris Bryant of the Cubs are both terrific players, but the best NL Central third baseman has yet to even play a game in the division. The St. Louis Cardinals were able to acquire Nolan Arenado in a trade with the Colorado Rockies, and he is easily the best player at this position.
Bryant is a former MVP, but it will be Arenado that contends for an MVP Award this season.
The shortstop position comes down to Paul DeJong of the Cardinals and Javier Baez of the Cubs. This shouldn’t really be much of a discussion, but Baez was miserable in 2020 and is looking for a bounce back season.
DeJong is a terrific player, but Baez has all the tools to be one of the best in baseball. He is the best shortstop in the NL Central Division.
The National League Central features some superstars on the infield, but there aren’t many great outfielders in this division. There are some quality young players on the rise, but not a ton of stars at this time.
Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Christian Yelich is the best outfielder in the division, and one of the best in baseball. Following him up is Nick Castellanos of the Cincinnati Reds based on his ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark.
The final spot comes down to Jason Heyward or Lorenzo Cain. Cain opted out of the 2020 season and for that reason alone, Heyward lands on this list.
Starting Pitchers (5)
There are some terrific starting pitchers in the NL Central, but you won’t see many Cy Young Award candidates. I thought about simply picking the ace of each staff, but that just wouldn’t work.
Here are the top five pitchers in the NL Central IN ORDER:
1. Kyle Hendricks (Chicago Cubs)
2. Sonny Gray (Cincinnati Reds)
3. Luis Castillo (Cincinnati Reds)
4. Jack Flaherty (St. Louis Cardinals)
5. Brandon Woodruff (Milwaukee Brewers)
There is no doubt who the best relief pitcher in the NL Central Division is, although he might be traded away before the season begins.
Josh Hader of the Milwaukee Brewers is nearly unhittable when he is on, and he anchors a solid Milwaukee Brewers bullpen.
Amir Garrett (Cincinnati) and Jordan Hicks (STL) are the next best relievers in the division.