NL Central Power Rankings Week 16

*please note: all stats outside of team records only include games played through 7/19/14.

1. St. Louis Cardinals (last week: 1):

55-44, t-1st Place, 373 RS, 344 RA (+16)

The Cardinals won of 2 of 3 over the weekend against the Dodgers, and have continued their good play of late. The Cardinals have won 10 of their last 14, and now are tied atop the NL Central with the Brewers.

The Cardinals offense has struggled for the majority of 2014, but they have been pretty good in July. Entering Sunday, the Cardinals had scored 60 runs (13th in the MLB), and had a 111 wRC+ (7th in the MLB). The Cardinals have had great contributions in July from Kolten Wong (255 wRC+, 1.0 WAR), Jhonny Peralta (158 wRC+, 0.7 WAR), Matt Adams (149 wRC+, 0.5 WAR), and Matt Holliday (166 wRC+, 0.4 WAR).

Trade Rumors: The Cardinals reportedly have interest in David Price, but it doesn’t appear as if talks have gotten very serious.

Injuries (click to expand)

cards hurt

Upcoming Schedule

  • Tues (8:15), Wed (7:15) vs Tampa Bay
  • Fri (4:05), Sat (4:05), Sun (2:20) at Chicago Cubs

2. Milwaukee Brewers (last week 2):

54-45, t-1st Place, 434 RS, 421 RA (+13)

The Brewers continue to struggle. They lost two of three at Washington to begin the second half, and are now just 3-11 in July. The Brewers are really struggling all the way around. Entering Sunday, they had scored just 47 runs in July (24th in the MLB), and have a team 79 wRC+ (28th in the MLB). Their pitching has a 5.04 ERA in July (26th in the MLB), and a 1.34 WHIP (22nd in the MLB).

Despite the Brewers team struggles, Ryan Braun has been on a tear in July. Braun is hitting .350/.395/.625 with a 181 wRC+ and 0.5 WAR. That is a good sign for the Brewers as they try to make get back on track for the dogs days of August.

On a sad note, Brewers SS Jean Segura’s 9 month old son passed away from an illness last week. Segura returned to the Brewers on Friday, and in his first at-bat back, the good fans of the Nationals gave him a wonderful standing ovation. Everyone here at RN certainly sends our thoughts and prayers for Jean Segura and his family.

Trade Rumors: It doesn’t look like the Brewers will make any major moves before the trade deadline.

Injuries (click to expand)

brew hurt

Upcoming Schedule

  • Mon (8:10), Tues (8:10), Wed (2:10) vs Cincinnati
  • Thurs (8:10), Fri (8:10), Sat (7:10), Sun (2:10) vs New York Mets

3. Pittsburgh Pirates (last week: 4):

52-46, 3rd Place, 1.5 GB, 403 RS, 400 RA (+3)

Those pesky Pittsburgh Pirates are coming, and they are coming hard. The Pirates started the second half with an impressive sweep of the Rockies to begin the second half. Since May 21st, the Pirates have the best record in the NL, at 33-20.

The Pirates offense has been pretty good all season, but it has been their pitching that has helped them of late. Entering Sunday, the Pirates team 3.19 ERA in July was good for 7th best in the MLB. Even better for the Pirates, is that their young stud pitcher Gerrit Cole could return as soon as next week.

Jeff Locke has really pitched well in July for the Pirates. Locke has a 2.22 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. On the offensive side of things, Andrew McCutchen might be on his way to back to back MVP seasons. McCutchen is hitting .320/.418/.566 with a 177 wRC+ (1st in NL) and 4.6 WAR (2nd in the NL).

Trade Rumors: The Pirates are reported to be scouting Ian Kennedy, but GM Neil Huntington  says the asking price is too high right now to make any major moves.

Injuries (click to expand)

bucs hurt

Upcoming Schedule

  • Mon (7:05), Tues (7:05), Wed (7:05) vs LA Dodgers
  • Fri (8:40), Sat (8:10), Sun (4:10) at Colorado

4. Cincinnati Reds (last week: 3):

51-47, 4th Place, 2.5 GB, 383 RS, 363 RA (+20)

The Reds have got off to a dreadful start to the second half. They got swept in New York to the Yankees over the weekend, scoring just 6 runs and getting struck out 31 times in the 3-game series. Despite the Reds recent struggles, they still lead the NL Central in run differential at +20.

Jay Bruce has really struggled for the Reds in July. Entering Sunday, he was hitting just .148/.193/.333 with a 40 wRC+ in 57 PA. The Reds desperately need his bat with Votto and Phillips on the DL. The Reds however have got great production in July from Chris Heisey, as he is hitting .355/.395/.613 with 2 HR, 181 wRC+, and 0.6 WAR.

Trade Rumors: The Reds like Ben Zobrist, have interest in Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo, and Jim Bowden think Josh Willingham would be a good fit for the Reds.

Injuries (click to expand)

reds hurt

Upcoming Schedule

  • Mon (8:10), Tues (8:10), Wed (2:10) at Milwaukee
  • Fri (7:10), Sat (4:05), Sun (1:10) vs Washington

5. Chicago Cubs (last week: 5):

40-57, 5th Place, 13.0 GB, 375 RS, 413 RA (-38)

The Cubs are having a great month of July offensively. Entering Sunday ,the Cubs had scored 68 runs in July (5th in the MLB), and have a 112 wRC+ (5th in the MLB).

Anthony Rizzo hit his 23rd homer on Sunday, which is tied for the NL lead with Giancarlo Stanton. Rizzo is having a tremendous season, hitting .278/.383/.514 with 147 wRC+ and 3.1 WAR.

An interesting story out of Chicago: the Cubs are suing several people who were behind a Cubs fake mascot that has been engaging in bad behavior around Wrigley Field, including a bar fight.

Trade Rumors: Starlin Castro has received trade interest , but the Cubs don’t expect to move him.

Injuries (click to expand)

cubs hurt

Upcoming Schedule

  • Tues (8:05), Wed (8:05), Thurs (8:05) vs San Diego
  • Fri (4:05), Sat (4:05), Sun (2:20) vs St. Louis

Since there were only 3 games this week, I decided to just name the NL Central Players of the Week from the best performances in the All-Star Game:

NL Central Best Position Player at the All-Star Game

Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers: 2 for 2, 2 RBI, 0.243 WPA

NL Central Best Pitcher at the All-Star Game

Alfredo Simon, Reds: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 0.059 WPA

See previous players of the week here.