Ranking the 10 Most Valuable Players in the NL Central
The NL Central Division is not known for having the best players in the game, especially since the departure of Albert Pujols.
But there still is considerable talent among the six teams that play in the division.
Some of the top teams like the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers benefit from the stellar play of past NL MVPs and Gold Glove winners.
The NL Central Division was considered to be the hardest division in baseball just three years ago with at least three teams within striking distance of first place.
This year, the Cardinals and Reds are the only two legitimate threats to take first in the Central.
These are the 10 most valuable players in the NL Central Division.
No. 10 Aramis Ramirez
Aramis Ramirez will be remembered by most fans as the third baseman for the Chicago Cubs.
He now spends his days playing third base for the Milwaukee Brewers, trying to fill the considerable gap that was left when Prince Fielder went to Detroit.
Ramirez is a 3-time All-Star and a 4-time NL Player of the Week.
He has 341 home runs to his name and is on pace to set a new Brewers' franchise record in doubles for a season; he currently has 42, which leads the National League.
No. 9 Anthony Rizzo
One of the Chicago Cubs top prospects and best first basemen, Anthony Rizzo came up from the minors with high expectations that he would be defensively sound, in addition to being a power hitter.
Rizzo has showed signs of both in his first season with the Cubs, and was named NL Rookie of the Month for July.
There is still room for improvement in Rizzo's game, and at 23 there is no doubt that he will be a major threat for opposing teams in the years to come.
No. 8 Brandon Phillips
A three-time All-Star for the Cincinnati Reds, second baseman Brandon Phillips is one of the better offensive players in the Reds lineup.
Being only the second second baseman in the 30-30 clubs and third in Reds' franchise history, Phillips earns his living with his defensive play on the field.
Being a three-time Gold Glove winner has a lot to say about Phillips defensive capabilities.
No. 7 Homer Bailey
Having just pitched his first no hitter on September 28th, Homer Bailey has proven to be one of the better pitchers in the National League.
He was named NL Player of the Week on October 1 and will look to be in a prominent spot in the Cincinnati Reds lineup come the playoffs.
At 26-years old, Bailey looks to be developing more into an elite pitcher for the Reds and may be difference maker in the years to come.
No. 6 Chris Carpenter
Chris Carpenter has one of the stronger arms in the St. Louis Cardinals lineup.
The right-handed pitcher has been an All-Star three times and World Series champion twice.
He won the NL Cy Young Award in 2005 and was named the NL Comeback Player of the Year in 2009.
Carpenter has been put into many high-pressure games for the Cardinals and continually succeeds.
At 37-years old, Carpenter is a veteran but nonetheless the 6th most valuable player in the NL Central Division.
No. 5 Starlin Castro
The up-and-coming shortstop for the Chicago Cubs has an amazing future ahead of him.
Starlin Castro is a two-time All-Star who holds the records for runs batted in in a major league debut and the youngest player to lead the NL in hits.
While he is offensively talented his defensive game could use a lot of help.
Castro led all major league shortstops in errors for the 2011 season with 29 and had the lowest fielding percentage.
But aside from his defensive gaffes, Castro is a solid player with a bright future and that lands him at No. 5.
No. 4 Yadier Molina
The catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, Yadier Molina is considered one of the best catchers in the game today.
He has an impressive resume which includes: Two-time World Series champion, four-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner, a NL Platinum Gold Glove winner and a four-time Fielding Bible Award winner.
Molina was also the third catcher in MLB history to play in two World Series before the age of 25, matching him with Yogi Berra and Johnny Bench.
No. 3 Andrew McCutchen
The two-time All-Star Andrew McCutchen is considered to be one of the best players in the NL Central.
At age 25, McCutchen is the leading offensive star for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He was named the National League Player of the Month in both June and July this season and currently holds a .327 batting average.
No. 2 Joey Votto
The top player on the Cincinnati Reds, Joey Votto is one of the best hitters in the National League.
Having won NL MVP in 2010 and a Gold Glove in 2011 Joey Votto is considered to be the "complete package," great both on defense and offense.
Votto currently has 14 home runs and a .337 batting average.
Look for Votto to be a main factor in whether or not the Reds make a deep postseason run.
No. 1 Ryan Braun
Say what you will about Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun, he is the NL Central's most valuable player.
The 2011 season saw Braun win NL MVP, the Silver Slugger Award and become part of the 30-30 club.
He was also selected to the All-Star team and was responsible for the Brewers making the playoffs that year.
Braun has hit over 40 home runs this season, despite the Brewers looking to be out of the playoff race.
A fast and versatile player, Braun has accomplished a lot in his 6 years in the MLB and looks to be a very valuable player in the years to come.
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