NL Central Shortstops: Plenty of New Faces

The NL Central shortstop position has seen an influx of new starters in the past year.  The trend could continue for several teams this season as well. 

The Pirates have a shortstop that came over mid season.  The Brewers moved JJ Hardy to make room for their new shortstop.  The Cardinals plugged in a new shortstop last season and of course, it was magical.  The Astros are going young with a shortstop that can actually field the position. 

The Cubs are also a team that is ready to move the one proven consistent player in the group to second base (RumBunter NL Central 2nd basemen profiled here.)  The move by the Cubs clears the way for their number one prospect.

However, with all this movement there still lacks an impact, top tier shortstop in the division, hell, even a second tier shortstop doesn’t play in the NL Central.  For our fantasy baseball friends, we don’t think there is a player who has a prayer at slugging over .400.  Hence, we see very little power numbers and RBI coming from the Central.  So stop reading now if that’s what you’re in search of today. A couple of the players we review still have some work to do in order to finalize their starting position, and by mid season this list could be changed quite a bit. 


1. Brendan Ryan took over at short for Khalil Greene.  Talk about a fast start,  Ryan was the best defensive SS in the National League.  Do the Cardinals ever struggle? 

The Pirate pitching staff fared well against Ryan in 2009 holding him to four hits in 23 at-batsRyan made up for it against the rest of the NL posting a 298/358/419 line in the second half of the season.   An offseason surgery that relieved wrist pain plus having Mark McGwire around to assist with bat speed could help Ryno even more   RedBird Rants  says.

Ryno is my top shortstop mainly because of his wiffle ball skills. It’s airplane time!

Brendan Ryan 2009 stats:

VORP: 17.7

BA: .292

OBP: .340

SLG: .400

H: 114

HR: 3

RBI: 37

Runs: 55

2.  Ryan Theriot of the Cubs is a Pirate killer.   Theriot had 24 hits in 53 at-bats, scored 11 runs with three doubles and a homer to go along with 8RBI.  He tallied 30 total bases and earned five walks.  If he gets moved to 2B, Starlin Castro is going to be challenged to match those lofty numbers against the Bucs.

The RIOT has put together three consecutive seasons with 80 runs scored and at least 20 stolen bases.  We predict Theriot will make it four consecutive years in 2010.   The kid can flat out play.    Of course, so can this kid…

Starlin Castro  

But Theriot will do whatever it takes to help the team win, even be the star of the hilarious video below 

Theirot 2009 stats:
VORP: 17.4

BA: .284

OBP: .343

SLG: .369

H: 171

HR: 7

RBI: 54

Runs: 81

3.  Alcides Escobar will be an impressive rookie for the Brewers.  He’s slick with his glove and he has many pubs buzzing him as one of the best rookies in the NL.  A rookie that had 125 at-bats last year sure will help.  Escobar played four games against the Bucs.  He hit 500 (7-for-14) with 3RBI.
Look for rock solid defense, around 50 RBI and a high average from Escobar.  He also can swipe bases effectively.  Just what Pirate fans needed to hear, the Brewers have a young, talented shortstop on their hands.

Escobar 2009 stats:
VORP: 3.7

BA: .304

OBP: .333

SLG: .368

H: 38

HR: 1

RBI: 11

Runs: 20

4.  Ronny Cedeno will be a moderate surprise for the Pirates.  (Hope that didn’t knock you off your chair)  We will probably be the only blog dumb enough to do this, but we can see a (gulp) 11 to 13 VORP for Cedeno who will also hit 14 HR.  Cedeno has played a serious amount of innings this offseason.  He may be the one guy on the Pirates who truly loves the game enough to play it non-stop.   The video below was on Bucs Dugout earlier this year. 

He is always in freakishly good condition which will serve him well in his battle against Bobby Crosby.  Many publications see the two splitting time, we hope that doesn’t happen. 

Bet you didn’t know…..Cedeno put up a .701 OPS with the Bucs.  Whew.


Cedeno 2009 stats:


BAVG: .208 (PIT .258)

OBP: .256

SLG: ..337

H: 71

HR: 10

RBI: 38

Runs: 32

5.  Orlando Cabrera is about to disappoint the Reds fans.   He was streaky last year with Minnesota.  After coming over from Oakland, he was stone cold hitting under 240 in first 43 games with the Twinkies.  He got hot in his last 16 games and hit over .400 with 16RBI. 

There isn’t much left in the tank and we see a VORP hovering below 10.  His bat definently got him a shot with the Reds.  He can still stroke all those singles keeping his average looking good, but he has lost a step or three. 

Holy uniform collection Orlando!

Cabrera 2009 Stats:


BAVG: .282

OBP: .315

SLG: .387

H: 185

HR: 9

RBI: 77

Runs: 83

6.  Tommy Manzella is being looked at by the Astros as the anti-Tejada.  His glove can make up for what is lost at the plate.  Interesting.   The Jack Wilson concept.  Have fun with that, because Manzella isn’t Jack Sprat.  No way.   He seems to us like a spray hitter which was backed up by Ben Balder of Baseball America.  Of course, being called the next Adam Everett by the Astros front office certainly can haunt a player. 

We see him being just about replacement level and his glove will get a lot of work from the Astros bullpen which will serve him up plenty of ground balls.

He can only go down as it relates to production versus the Pirates.   Manzella  batted 1.000 versus the Bucs, he was 1-for1.  It was his first hit in the majors.  He was 1 for 5 last season.  He struck out the other four at bats.

You’re worried about Cedeno?.

Manzella 2009 stats:

VORP: -0.5

BAVG: .200

OBP: .200

SLG: .200

H: 1

HR: 0

RBI: 0

Runs: 0

Tags: Alcides Escobar Brendan Ryan Orlando Cabrera Positional Rankings Ronny Cedeno Ryan Theriot Shortstops Tommy Manzella

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