* Zac Rosscup
* Chris Rusin
* James Russell
* Travis Wood
* Wesley Wright
* George Kottaras
# Arismendy Alcantara
* Anthony Rizzo
* Luis Valbuena
* Logan Watkins
* Brett Jackson
* Nate Schierholtz
* Ryan Sweeney
SPRING TRAINING NRI (28):
* Tommy Hottovy
* Eric Jokisch
* Jonathan Sanchez
* Tsuyoshi Wada
* John Baker
* Rafael Lopez
# Emilio Bonifacio
* Chris Coghlan
* Ryan Kalish
* Mitch Maier
Back in April, I put up some polls for our readers to rank the position players and number one pitchers in the division. I originally intended to get them up before the season started so any hot starts wouldn't influence the results. I failed miserably at that and the poll results showed that (Derrek Lee second?). Nonetheless, let's revisit the fun.
I had to take a little break to bash Brenneman yesterday, but NL Central Smackdown is back. I was going to just try and cover all the pitching in one post and have you guys vote on the pitching staffs as a whole. But who really want to decide between Brandon Backe vs Braden Looper. On the other hand, the crown for the best staff ace is worthy of discussion.
Before we examine left field, I remind you to check out and vote on center field and right from this weekend if you missed it. As for the left fielders, I think it's an intriguing group and something that should really test the "homer" vote that's been going around
in the previous installments. I think Soriano is as good as they get
out there in the division, but he seems to be quickly falling out of
fans' good graces as of late.
Before we head to the outfield, we take on the field generals. A difficult position to evaluate with the numbers just because there's just no great way to numerically measure a catcher's defense, leadership and ability to work with his pitching staff...but we'll do our best. I did want to note, I'll keep going with these through the weekend just so we can finish this up by early next week. If you take the weekends off from TCR, be sure to check back Monday and vote on the polls you missed.
We march on around the diamond. Today it's the double play partner of yesterday's vote. The Cubs so far have the 2nd best first basemen and second basemen in the division. Can Ryan Theriot keep the streak going? Answer - no!
I started off with the first basemen yesterday and I'll leave the poll up until I get through all the positions. If you need a primer on all this, be sure to check out that first post as well on the first basemen.
Today though we move to the second basemen. While Hendry tries to win by sheer numbers, it's about quality, not quantity. Your contestants after the jump....
I was going to try and get this up before the season started, but that clearly didn't happen for a variety of reasons. But that's no excuse to let the work go to waste. Basically I thought it would be fun to go through each position player in the division and the starting pitchers and see how we rank them. Who’s the best now? Who will be the best over the next 3 years? I'll be using Baseball Prospectus's WARP-3 numbers for the most part, which includes both offense and defense and most importantly for this exercise, projections for the next three years. Once we get through the eight positions and the starting pitchers, I'll finish it off with a Bill Simmons inspired (ripped off) trade value chart.
Here are the ground rules. We're trying to figure out who you'd rather have on your team. Do your best to take your Cubs bias out of the equation if possible (that shouldn't be hard for some of you). But we're also trying to figure out who has the best players on the their team right now, so I'm going to use the players projected to get the most playing time this year. Sure, Jay Bruce will eventually take over center field duties in Cincinnati, but who knows when. The chart after the jump includes their 3-year WARP-3 averages (2005-2007) and their projected 2008-2010 averages.The final column, appropriately labeled "Rob's Rankings", are simply how I ranked them before looking at any stats. For the most part I was pretty close to what the numbers bear out. I should also note that I did my rankings before the season started.
We'll start off with the toughest and most talented position, the first basemen. Your gladiators after the jump....
I think the key thing for Rock Shoulders (who has a "slider speed" bat that makes it hard for him to do anything with plus-fastballs) or any hitter who has a deficiency is to know what you can't handle, and then learn to recognize those pitches and not swing at them.