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MLB Mid Season Report Card: Part 2 – NL Central

Posted on July 15, 2010 by Don Spieles

Cincinnati Reds (49-41): A+

Cincinnati Reds Scott Rolen watches his three run home run clear the wall aghainst the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on June 1, 2010. Rolen hit two home runs in the game defeating St. Louis 9-8. UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom

Scott Rolen had been born again in Cincinnati.

Very few people foresaw the possibility of the Reds sitting atop the NL Central at the All-Star Break. Though, as of today, their lead is a single, tenuous game, they have exceeded all realistic expectations.

Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, and Mike Leak have all posted winning records thus far, though in 53 combined starts the Reds top three have a combined 30 no-decisions, a testament to a mediocre bullpen. While has 24 saves, he also has 10 blown saves and a 4.40 ERA. The lone releif star is 40 year old Arthur Rhodes who is posting an awesome 1.54 ERA in his 41 appearances. He’s averaging about 6 strike outs per nine innings with a WHIP of .943. His appearance on the All-Star roster was the stuff of Hollywood, even though he did not make it onto the field.

Cincinnati’s offense is leading the NL in runs (437), hits (843), batting average (.272), slugging (.441), and OPS (.779). With the resugence of veteran Scott Rolen and outstanding first half work from Joey Votto (22 home runs, .314 average) a Reds squad in the post season is a real possibility.

St. Louis Cardinals (47-41): A

The Cards signed Matt Holliday in the off season to a monstrous contract that so far seems to be doing them well (16 homers, .300 average.) Albert Pujols is, well, Albert Pujols (.308 average, 21 home runs.) This team continues to play very strong, a may slump notwithstanding. The Cardinals starting rotation still shines as one of the best in the league, ranking second in the NL in ERA (3.39) and have the second fewest free passes (259).

The bottom line seems to be that the Cardinals and Reds will be neck-and-neck throughout the second half. If there is to be another one-game-playoff this year, look for it to be in the NL Central.

Milwaukee Brewers (40-49): C

The underachievers of note, the Brew Crew is not playing up to expectations. Though they lead the NL in doubles (170) and home runs (110), they trail the front runners by eight games. Their team ERA is better only than that of Pittsburgh and Arizona. The are ahead of only Pittsburgh in terms of number of quality starts and though they are in the middle of the NL pack in terms of strike outs (680) they trail only San Francisco in terms of bases on balls. No Brewer pitcher has more than 8 wins.

With the trade deadline approaching, the Brewers have made it known that they will consider offers for star slugger Prince Fielder. It’s last call in Milwaukee, and an early one at that.

Chicago Cubs (39-50): D

Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano walks off the field after the fifth inning against the Florida Marlins at Wrigley Field in Chicago on May 3, 2009. (UPI Photo/Brian Kersey) Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom

From starter to reliever to starter to pariah: Carlos Zambrano is symbolic of the Cubs woes.

Over the last few seasons the Cubs had gotten the hopes of their fans up once again. Even with wholly horrible playoff performances, the fact that they made the post season a few time was cause enough to get that “this could be the year” talk rolling.

None of that right now, though. The Cubbies are ranked in the bottom third of the NL in most offensive categories. There pitching has been lack-luster at best, and borderline psychotic (as in Carlos Zambrano) at wost.

In short, this can’t possibly be the year.

Houston Astros (36-53): D-

The only reason that Houston doesn’t get an “F” is because they are ahead of the Pirates and at least that is something.

The only really positive thing in Houston this summer is Roy Oswalt and he won’t be in Houston by August 1st.

Pittsburgh Pirates (30-58): F

The Bucs are, if nothing else, consistent. 1992 was the last time they finished above .500 for a season and this year will not break the streak without a major miracle. The Pirates are dead last in the NL in runs, hits, and batting average. They are next to last in on-base perscentage, slugging, and OPS. From the mound, they are last in strike outs, second to last in ERA, and have given up 10 or more runs in 10 different games (including a 17 run game and a 20 run game.)

Pittsburgh deserves better.

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