First Half MVPs – NL Central


Here’s who our NL Central writers thought were their club’s most valuable players.

Chicago Cubs Starlin Castro

There are not a lot of options on the Cubs, given that every player on their 25 man roster has gone through some type of a slump or has spent some amount of time on the disabled list.  Though, one player that has remained consistent throughout all the Cubs struggles has been shortstop Starlin Castro. Castro is by far the MVP of the Cubs for the first half of the season. Castro is hitting .325 on the season and is among the league leaders for total hits.

But not including his production on the field, Castro has provided a spark to the Cubs fan base. Castro has allowed us all to see a glimpse into the future, a day when all of the bad contracts currently on the team have gone away. Castro is going to be a great player, and that alone is enough to warrant Castro being the MVP of the first half of the season for the Cubs. If the Cubs were relevant in the baseball standings, it is not crazy to believe that Castro would be a MVP candidate.

Jordan CampbellCubbies Crib

Cincinnati Reds Johnny Cueto

Okay, bear with me. My version of an MVP is less of stats and numbers (though it finds its logic there) and more of value and impact. I could easily choose Joey Votto, and I probably should have, but we all know the Reds offense is at the core of the team’s strengths. I looked at the team’s weakness and who helped ballast that the most to find my MVP. The Red’s weakness in 2011 has most definitely been consistent starting pitching. And who returned to help anchor a struggling starting staff and has proceeded to be the de facto ace since his season debut May 8th? Johnny Cueto.

With a 5-2 record in 9 starts, Cueto has a 1.63 ERA and 0.973 WHIP (my personal favorite Cueto stat) and the Reds are 6-3 in his starts. Cueto has also went at least 6 innings in all of his starts but one and not given up more than 3 ER in any start. Providing a shot in the arm at a position where your team is hurting? Putting up near top-of-the-league numbers at your position to boot? That’s the MVP for me. If Cueto started the season healthy and pitched this way he would be mentioned in the prospective Cy Young conversation and by the end of the year, he still might.

Justin HamiltonBlog Red Machine

Houston Astros Hunter Pence

There really isn’t much competition for first half MVP here as Pence has been playing the best out of all the Astros. He leads the team in hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, and batting average. He is most likely going to be the only All-Star representative for the Astros and has been playing hard every game, even though the team is sitting in the basement of the NL Central.

Brandon CroceClimbing Tal’s Hill

Milwaukee Brewers Prince Fielder

Prince Fielder is a one man wrecking ball for the Brew Crew.  As of Monday June 27th, Prince leads the NL in home runs and RBI’s (21 and 68 respectively).  Whenever the Brewers have needed a big hit this season, it has come from the big boy.  The Prince Fielder we are watching now is different than the Fielder of seasons past.  For the first time in his career, he is not looking to hit home runs in every single plate appearance.  Fielder is taking pitches and working counts, which has done wonders for his OBP.  His defense still leaves something to be desired, but when you are on pace to hit 45 HR’s and over 140 RBI’s, defense should be the least of your worries.  Too bad he is playing so well, his other-worldly play means that Scott Boras is going to be able to hold Major League Baseball teams for ransom.  That dooms the Brewers chances of keeping this amazing slugger.

Lou OlsenReviewing the Brew

Pittsburgh Pirates Andrew McCutchen

Andrew McCutchen is the first half MVP of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Fast and powerful, McCutchen is one of the most valuable players in all of baseball.  He has increased his slugging, his on base percentage, and in fact, most of his offensive numbers are the best of his career.  The center fielder has even improved his fielding this season for the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates.

Tom SmithRum Bunter

St. Louis Cardinals Lance Berkman

It is a crazy season in STL and the most unlikely of heroes has come to light. The past few years could have led us to say Pujols, Holliday, Carp, or Wainwright, but now it seems as though we have a clear majority into our team MVP this first half. Lance Berkman has been one incredibly reliable piece in the Cardinals lineup and one that almost wasn’t even meant to be. Last season his average was a rather dismal .248 and his power numbers took a huge shot.

This season he already surpassed his 2010 HR tally and is on pace to hit over 40 HR’s and 120 RBI’s. It seems like forever ago we thought who in their right mind would still give this guy that $8 million pay stub we extended, even over one year. With Holliday and now Albert being out, it turns out to be the greatest offseason acquisition in recent memory for the club.

Other candidates could have been Kyle McClellan or Jaime Garcia from the starting rotation. This was my gut feeling all along and the fans of the Redbird Rants Twitter page gave me a resounding affirmation naming Berkman our man.

Nick ZellRedbird Rants