The Times West Virginian

Pirates

July 14, 2014

NL Central race should be fun

FAIRMONT — If you’re a baseball fan, you’re going to want to watch the race for the National League Central division in the second half of the season.

Only two divisions in Major League Baseball have three teams with 50 or more wins and one is the NL Central. The race for first place in the division is also the tightest in all of baseball, the top four teams being separated by just three and a half games.

And in the NL as a whole, the NL Central has four teams in the top eight when looking at overall records.

As if that wasn’t enough, you can just look to the stat sheet.

In the list of National League leaders, you’d be hard pressed to find a category that didn’t include a member of the NL Central in the top five.

St. Louis’ Matt Adams, Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen and Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy sit in the top five in terms of batting average in the NL; Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo and Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier rank in the top five in terms of home runs; McCutchen is up there in terms of RBIs; St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright and Cincinnati’s Alfredo Simon lead the NL in pitching wins; Wanwright and Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto are near the top in earned run average; and St. Louis’ Trevor Rosenthal and Milwaukee’s Francisco Rodriguez rank in the top three in saves.

Either way you look at it, the NL Central has some top-notch athletes, making for exciting games. This past week of play proved that the Central can provide excitement, with 11 games being decided by three runs or less since July 6.

What’s more, four of the five teams in the NL Central have at least 21 wins against division opponents, one of only two divisions to boast such a feat, showing the parity in the division.

Last season’s late-season race proved to be one for the record books, with Pittsburgh finally making it over the regular season hump and soaring into the playoffs, playing the Wild Card play-in game against a division rival in Cincinnati and then falling out in the first round against yet another divisional foe, losing the series to the Cardinals.

Of the five teams to make the playoffs in 2013, three came from the NL Central. Now if that doesn’t say something, I’m not sure what will.

Going beyond that, the NL Central had two teams in the playoffs in 2012 and 2011 and has had a team reach the National League Championship series in each of the past three seasons. Combined, the NL Central has 46 World Series appearances with a total of 22 World Series Championships since the Cubs won in 1907, meaning in the last 107 years, the NL Central has won 20.1 percent of the World Series’ since 1907.

As we head into the All-Star break, four NL starters, seven NL pitchers and five NL reserves hail from the NL Central on this year’s National League All-Star roster.

Once the All-Star festivities come to an end later this week, the second half of the season will get under way and the race for the Central division will begin to heat up.

Keep your eyes peeled for some good baseball.

Email Matt Welch at mwelch@timeswv.com or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.

1
Text Only
Pirates
  • Harrison’s 4 hits leads Pirates past Rockies, 7-5

    Josh Harrison had four hits, including a tiebreaking homer, to help the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Colorado Rockies 7-5 on Sunday.

    July 27, 2014

  • Pirates fall victim to Rockies, 8-1

    Nolan Arenado bounced back from a benching with three hits, including a home run, and the Colorado Rockies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-1 on Saturday night.
    Tyler Matzek pitched three-hit ball over seven scoreless innings. Drew Stubbs and Corey Dickerson also homered for the Rockies, who have won three straight.

    July 27, 2014

  • Pirates jump on Haren early, top Dodgers, 6-1

    Josh Harrison had two hits with two RBIs and the Pittsburgh Pirates jumped on Dan Haren early in a 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.
    Harrison’s two-run double down the left field line capped a four-run outburst in the first against Haren (8-8).

    July 24, 2014

  • Pirates jump on Haren early, top Dodgers, 6-1

    osh Harrison had two hits with two RBIs and the Pittsburgh Pirates jumped on Dan Haren early in a 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.

    July 23, 2014

  • Pirates beat Rockies 5-3 for 3-game sweep

    Andrew McCutchen hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning, Neil Walker followed with a home run and the Pittsbugh Pirates overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Colorado Rockies 5-3 Sunday for a three-game sweep.

    July 20, 2014

  • Pirates rally by Rockies in 11

    Jordy Mercer doubled home Neil Walker with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night.
    Walker led off the inning with a single against Colorado’s Chad Bettis (0-2), moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and scored one batter later when Mercer hit a drive deep into the gap in left-center.

    July 20, 2014

  • Pirates rally late, top Rockies, 4-2

    Travis Snider’s pinch-hit double in the eighth scored Neil Walker to spark the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Friday night.
    Walker trotted home when Colorado right fielder Carlos Gonzalez couldn’t track down Snider’s sinking line drive off reliever Matt Belisle (2-5). All-Star Josh Harrison added a sacrifice fly one batter later.

    July 19, 2014

  • Resilient Pirates looking for post All-Star surge

    The Pittsburgh Pirates find themselves in an average, every day — if still heated — pennant race.

    July 18, 2014

  • Jeter, Trout lead AL over NL 5-3 in All-Star game

    Derek Jeter soaked in the adulation from fans and players during one more night on baseball’s national stage, set the tone for the American League with a pregame speech and then delivered two final All-Star hits.
    Mike Trout, perhaps the top candidate to succeed the 40-year-old Yankees captain as the face of the game, seemed ready to assume the role with a tiebreaking triple and later a go-ahead double that earned him MVP honors.

    July 16, 2014

  • NL Central race should be fun

    If you’re a baseball fan, you’re going to want to watch the race for the National League Central division in the second half of the season.

    July 14, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads