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NL Central Positional Power Rankings: Recap

To kick off 2017, we decided to develop in depth positional power rankings for all positions in the NL Central. After 9 installments, let’s summarize and see where the Cardinals stack up.

Introduction

As you should expect, across nearly every position, the Cubs dominated the rankings. Topping the list in all but two spots, it is clear why Chicago was, and remains to be, the top-dog in the NL central. With studs across the board, the Cardinals will need improvement on all fronts if they wish to challenge for a pennant.

Though the Cubs were ranked number one at seven of nine positions in our rankings, it was clear that the Cardinals arrived in second place. Placing second in five position groups, the Cardinals edged the Pirates across the board, giving themselves a sold outlook as we progress towards the 2017 season.

In case you missed any of our installments, I will now provide an overview of each position, reviewing the pertinent information for Cardinals fans specifically. If you desire an in-depth analysis of any given position upon reading this piece, we urge you to check out the corresponding post from earlier in the week.

Catcher

Rankings (from best to worst): Cardinals, Cubs, Pirates, Reds, Brewers

For quite a while now, it has been nearly undeniable that the Cardinals have the best catcher in the NL Central, if not the MLB in general. Moving forward into 2017, this is no different. Although he is beginning to age, Yadier Molina is still a special player for a multitude of reasons. Perhaps more interesting, though, is the possible innings for Carson Kelly, the likely heir to Molina’s throne. Albeit drastically different ages and experience levels, the Cardinals will have an opportunity to play two studs behind the dish in 2017.

First Base

Rankings: Cubs, Reds, Cardinals, Pirates, Brewers

Sadly, there are two absolute stud first basemen playing ball in the NL Central. With Anthony Rizzo in Chicago (#1) and Joey Votto (#2) in Cincy, any team would struggle to stack up. Luckily, however, the Cardinals by no means will start a slouch in 2017. In fact, Matt Carpenter may just be their best overall offensive player. Too bad he’s stacked up against two of the game’s brightest stars.

Second Base

Rankings: Cubs, Pirates, Cardinals, Reds, Brewers

Unsurprisingly, the Cubs top our list for second base. With the possibility of playing either the ever-so-solid Ben Zobrist or the fiery Javier Baez, Chicago is perhaps the best in the MLB at this position. To the contrary, the Cardinals are relatively weak. With the unreliable and unproven Kolten Wong likely to start in 2017, it seems as if the Cubs may retain their crown on the right side of the diamond for at least one more year.

Shortstop

Rankings: Cubs, Cardinals, Reds, Brewers, Pirates

In my opinion, this one is very, very close. Addison Russel and Aledmys Diaz are both young, promising players. In this race, Chicago probably gets the edge due to Russel’s fantastic defense, along with the depth added by the versatile Javier Baez. No need to worry, though, for Diaz should remain on an upward trajectory for years to come.

Third-Base

Rankings: Cubs, Pirates, Cardinals, Reds, Brewers

Just as with first-base, there is truly no possible argument that could take Kris Bryant out of the number one spot. Following Bryant is the tandem of Jung Ho Kang and David Freese, two players that, according to Rohan, slightly edge out the Cardinals own duo of Peralta and Gyroko. Regardless of rank, the Cardinals need a consistent bat from the hot corner in 2017, along with solid-defense to help improve what was a shady pitching staff in 2016.

Outfield

Rankings: Pirates, Cardinals, Cubs, Brewers, Reds

As most baseball fans know, Pittsburgh boasts one of the most talented, athletic outfield corpses across all of baseball. With the superstar himself Andrew Mccutchen, accompanied by Marte, Harrison, Bell, and Polanco, the Pirates are simply the best the NL Central has to offer in this realm. For the Cardinals, things are undoubtedly looking up. After the flashy signing of proven stud Dexter Fowler to complement the consistent Stephen Piscotty, the Cards are a steady left-fielder away from a very formidable outfield force.

Starting Pitching

Rankings: Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates, Brewers, Reds

As it stands right now, with three all-star caliber pitchers in Lester, Hendricks, and Arrieta, the Cubs topped our list. Looking towards the future, though, the Cardinals are hot on their tail. Pending good-health (unlike 2016), the Cardinals could scare the MLB this year with their duo of limitless young talent. After debuting last year, both Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver look to burst onto the scene in 2017, restoring the St. Louis tradition of phenomenal pitching. Along with the return of Lance Lynn, 2017 could be a special year on the mound.

Bullpen

Rankings: Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers, Pirates, Reds

If Siegrist can minimize the amount of home runs allowed in 2017, the Cardinals could be in business. Coupled with new signee Brett Cecil and Matt Bowman, the Cardinals will need to be consistent and healthy to protect the young, inexperienced portion of the Starting rotation. While they were solid in 2016, look for this group, second best in the NL Central behind Chicago, to be formidable this upcoming season.

Closer

Rankings: Cubs, Cardinals, Reds, Pirates, Brewers

Boasting the closer with the lowest ERA since 2014, the Cubs topped our rankings through their acquisition of Wade Davis. A lock-down closer, he just may outperform Aroldis Chapman from 2016. In St. Louis, the closing situation is inferior, but still very solid. Seung Hwan Oh was amongst the best in the MLB last season, so hopefully he can keep that going through into 2017. If all goes well, Oh will beat out old age and sharpened scouting reports to cement himself as one of the game’s best.

 

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