The Future of the N.L. Central


For the past week or so, I have been following the NLCS between San Francisco and Philadelphia with great interest. As I watch these two teams battle it out for a spot in the World Series, I can’t help but marvel at the incredible potential of the Giants. In particular, I have been highly impressed with rookie catcher Buster Posey. All year long, Posey has shown the composure, intelligence, and skills of an experienced veteran. His Rookie of the Year worthy regular season was special for sure, but his ability to carry that into the playoffs when the pressure is on is what makes Posey nothing short of a superstar. With three doubles, two RBIs, and a .344 batting average this postseason, Posey is getting all the hype he deserves around major league baseball.

Sure, many people knew that the Giants had the chance to be a great team somewhere down the road, but not many expected them to put it all together this quickly. After last night’s 6-5 victory, the Giants are just one game away from shocking the Phillies.

When a team as dominant as Philadelphia is trails a severe underdog three games to one, there must be some kind of explanation behind it. Yes, the Phillies aren’t exactly playing their best baseball right now. However, I believe that this series, at least through four games, has more to do with the Giants’ great execution than the Phillies’ miscues. As improbable as it may have seemed a week ago, the Giants have been the better team without a doubt.

San Francisco’s young stars such as Lincecum, Cain, Wilson, Sandoval, and Posey have been the keys to success so far. This talented young team epitomizes the change of eras that is on the horizon for baseball. A new chapter in the history of Major League Baseball is beginning, and you will find no better evidence of this than in the 2010 postseason. Yesterday’s superstars (Derek Jeter, Manny Ramirez, etc.) are becoming a story of the past, and today’s prospects (Buster Posey, Stephen Strasburg) are taking baseball by storm.

The absence of a National League Central team in the NLCS, based on this theory that youth pays off, is quite surprising. Not one team from the Central has made an appearance in the NLCS since the Cardinals won the World Series in 2006. However, now that youth has become one of the main keys to success, there is strong reason to believe that the N.L. Central will turn things around.

Players such as Jamie Garcia, Colby Rasmus, Aroldis Chapman, Jay Bruce, Pedro Alvarez, Starlin Castro, and Yovani Gallardo make the N.L. Central one of the most promising divisions in the majors. The Cardinals have an excellent mix of potential and experience and are comparable to the Giants in many ways. St. Louis should learn from this playoff performance by San Fran and keep the value of youth in mind in making all offseason decisions. Although it may take time for young players to develop, the ultimate reward of a World Series trophy is well worth it. For starters, the Cards might want to think twice before they re-sign Jake Westbrook, a 33 year old injury prone veteran who is mediocre at best.

The Cards certainly have a bright future, but so to do their N.L. Central counterparts, which will make the Central a division to keep your eye on. By watching the Giants in this year’s playoffs, the Cardinals could be seeing themselves just a few years down the road. To say the least, it should be very interesting to see how the future of the N.L. Central plays out.