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Strengths: Everyone on this team is young and a work in progress. 2B Neil Walker, 3B Pedro Alvarez, and OF Garrett Jones all have shown promise, but as long as they are playing in Pittsburgh, they won’t get much recognition. The addition of 1B Lyle Overbay will give the offense a much-needed boost.
Weaknesses: Pitching. They had a team ERA of 5.00 and lost 105 games last season. Need I say more?
Analysis: Hang on Pittsburgh fans, you are in for another long season. It probably won’t be as bad as last year, but you can expect another bottom-of-the-barrel performance. You have to give them credit for trying.
Prediction: 6th in NL Central
More 2011 NL Central Predictions after the jump >>
They say a picture says 1000 words, and this picture taken the split-second after Matt Holliday committed the error heard round the baseball world says more than I ever could. You could say it cost the St Louis Cardinals the game, although, at some point, doesn’t the Cardinals bullpen deserve some scorn too? It’s not like the winning runs were scored on that play. Yes, the error would’ve been out number three, and yes it gave the Dodgers another chance, but if the Cardinals bullpen would’ve been better… In fact, here’s the play-by-play
following Holliday’s error:
Blake walked on a full count. Belliard singled to center, Pierre scored, Blake to second. On Molina’s passed ball, Blake to third, Belliard to second. Martin walked on four pitches. Loretta pinch-hitting for Sherrill. Loretta singled to center, Blake scored, Belliard to third, Martin to second.
As you can see, the Cardinals faced four more Dodgers’ batters before the winning run was scored. Is it Holliday’s fault his pitcher couldn’t pick his error up? Or is everyone so fixated on a dropped third out, the stuff that followed — that is, the winning runs — is insignificant? Before we put the dunce cap completely on Holliday’s dome, consider the fact his pitching staff wasn’t much help after the error was committed.
A passed ball, coupled with a four-pitch walk is every bit the culprit Holliday’s beefed catch is.
But is he the MOST valuable? It depends on your definition of “value” is. If it calls for ignoring stats like home runs and RBI in favor of batting average, then no, Howard is not the most valuable. However, with the Phillies leading the NL East — for now — and his MLB-leading 45 home runs and 136 RBI contribution to said lead, he certainly deserves some consideration. Yes, Howard’s batting average has been lower than you’d want during the season grind, but in the last week or so, Philadelphia’s hammer is hitting .455 with four dingers and 11 runs knocked in.
Howard’s recent tear has helped push his batting average to the .250 area for the first time this season. On the other hand, Howard is again threatening to exceed 200 strikeouts with only 74 walks. Obviously, you’d like to see his patience at the plate improve — as well as his eye — but consider this: if you knew every time you made contact with the ball, it had a chance to leave the yard, patience and plate discipline may not be your biggest virtues either.
Who is more valuable after the jump >>