MLB Midseason Report Card

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Jul 14, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (4) hits a three run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the ninth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Does this team ever have problems? Again, the St. Louis Cardinals show they are one of the best organizations in all of baseball. In a season where they weren’t considered in the preseason as the favorites of the Central, here they are, again, leading the way at 21 games over .500.

They have a one-game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates and are five games ahead of the Cincinnati Reds.

Their top three batters have an average of over .300, and they seem to win the games they need to win, in Yadier Molina (.341), Allen Craig (.333) and Matt Carpenter (.321).

I believe they have the best catcher in baseball in Molina, because having a catcher who can not only call a great game, but hit like he does, is a rarity.

Then there is the pitching of the Cardinals, with Adam Wainwright (2.45 ERA) and Lance Lynn (4.00 ERA) leading with 12 and 11 wins, respectively. I can’t forget about Shelby Miller either with nine wins (2.92 ERA). Their top three pitchers also each have over 100 strikeouts apiece, with Wainwright leading with 130.

This team is going to be tough to beat for the division crown.

Team MVP: Yadier Molina (C) — In 87 games this season, Molina has 110 hits (27 doubles, seven home runs) with 49 RBIs and has struck out just 33 times in ’13.

Maybe the Pittsburgh Pirates’ performance this season is the biggest surprise of the season … OK, it is the biggest surprise of the season, but the question is: can they keep up this pace for the remainder of the season?

I think the Pirates will, in fact, break the 20-year losing season streak this season and make the postseason.

This team is full of young talent, and I’d like to see them keep up their pace in the top half of the Central.

They have a rejuvenated Francisco Liriano leading with nine wins and 80 strikeouts, along with Jeff Locke having eight wins and 73 strikeouts with an ERA of 2.15. Then there is Gerrit Cole, who could be their ace in the future, as he’s 4-3 in seven starts thus far.

The Pirates have something going this season … let’s hope it keeps going to keep the Central interesting.

TEAM MVP: Andrew McCutchen (CF) — The most talented player on the Pirates, the centerfielder is batting .302 with 104 hits (26 doubles) with 10 home runs and 49 RBIs, and don’t forget his 20 steals.

I’ve watched a lot of Cincinnati Reds games this season, and I think it is safe to say this team, even though they have 53 wins, should be higher in the Central standings with the type of talent that is on this team.

One problem for the Reds has been the three stints on the DL by ace Johnny Cueto, but that isn’t an excuse for some of the offensive play of the Reds this season.

I know 50-plus wins at this point of the season is a great accomplishment, but the expectations in the Queen City are higher than being in third place in the standings at the break.

They have one of the best, if not the best, first baseman in all of baseball in Joey Votto, and the addition of Shin-Soo Choo has been nothing by positive for them at the lead-off spot. Plus, don’t forget having Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce in the lineup doesn’t hurt things, either.

That’s my point … having those four players and being third in the standings just doesn’t sit well.

And the pitching for the Reds has been led by No. 5 starter Mike Leake in the ERA category at 2.69, but the best pitcher for Cincinnati, in my opinion, this year has been Mat Latos with a 3.53 ERA and eight wins. He just hasn’t had the run support pitchers need in some of his starts this season.

Team MVP: Joey Votto (1B) — This team will only go as far as former NL MVP Votto takes them. He’s batting .318 with 66 runs and 15 home runs. He’s even third on the team in steals with three.

I can’t fault the Chicago Cubs for trying to rebuild, but how many times is this team going to try and rebuild since their last visit to the postseason in ’03?

They have one All-Star in Travis Wood and are 15 games out of first place. Closer Kevin Gregg has been productive with 17 saves in just 19 chances, so the Cubs have that going for them when he gets the opportunity to save a game.

Right now, though, the Cubs are just in trade mode as they want to shop Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano.

Better days should be ahead for the Cubs, but those days are still at least two to three years away.

TEAM MVP: Alfonso Soriano (LF) — The reason I picked him is because he’s a player the Cubs can trade for prospects, as he’s batting a team-high .259 with 45 runs, 16 home runs, 49 RBIs and 10 steals.

How a team can be four games worse than the Chicago Cubs, a team that is trying to trade players, is beyond me, but it is happening in Milwaukee.

What I really like abut the Brewers is Jean Segura at shortstop, as he becoming one of the most exciting players in baseball to watch. He’s batting .325 with 54 runs 11 home runs and 27 steals.

Another standout this year is Carlos Gomez with a .295 BA and 14 home runs. Both Segura and Gomez are All-Stars.

They have two pitchers leading with just seven wins each in Yovani Gallardo and Wily Peralta. Kyle Lohse is third with five.

Maybe next season can be better for the Brewers, because this year they could compete for fourth in the division with the Cubs.

TEAM MVP: Jean Segura (SS) — I’ve already mentioned his stats, and I only see them improving as the season continues.