With the All-Star game behind us, these National League stars now just have to fight out who will be that team that gets home field advantage in the World Series. With no less than 8 contenders for 4 playoff spots, the race towards the finish could be one of the more interesting ones in recent history. Who will win the NL Central, and who will be the heroes? Fans will have to wait and see to find out. These are the National League Power Rankings as of July 17th.
1) Joey Votto – CIN (Previously: 5)
While many of the top National All-Star selections are struggling, Votto has excelled going into and out of the All-Star break. With 18 hits in July, good for an average of .367, Votto has helped put his Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central race. After an exciting series win over the Cardinals, the NL Central looks to have four contenders for the division title.
2) Matt Kemp – LAD (P: 1)
Kemp’s overall numbers still look great, but his July is highlighted by his less-than-stellar Home Run Derby effort, and declining numbers. He is hitting .314 overall, but just .205 in the month of July, with just 2 home runs and 9 RBIs. Fantasy Baseball fans have to wonder if this is just a slump, or if Kemp is losing focus on a bad team.
3) Prince Fielder – MIL (P: 2)
The All-Star Game MVP is the one who hit the shot to give the National League home field advantage. However, that one All-Star game homer matches his home run total for the month of July. He is still hitting a decent .283 in the month, but has only 4 RBIs, which is almost hard to believe. He will need to be more productive for the Brewers to stay in the NL Central race.
4) Ryan Braun – MIL (P: 4)
Braun, hitting .315 for the season, has battled some ailments over much of July and has only appeared in 6 games this month. He has hit only .235 with no homers and 2 RBIs in those games, not the production Fantasy Baseball owners want to see. Traditionally a prolific homerun-hitter, Braun only has 6 homers since April.
5) Lance Berkman – STL (P: 7)
While his average continues to plummet, Berkman still seems to be good for one thing, and that is the long ball. He has hit 4 homers in July, although that is paired with only 5 RBIs, which should tell fans that he is all-or-nothing at the plate right now. While he has been invaluable to the Cardinals in the first half, their other superstars are going to have to step up to keep up in the Central.
6) Andrew McCutchen – PIT (P: 10)
One of the four contenders in the NL Central is, surprisingly, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Their offensive MVP has been Andrew McCutchen, who has been impressive. McCutchen has hit .282 for the season, with 14 homers and 56 RBIs. He has also been issued a ton of walks, with 51. If the Pirates are to stay a legitimate threat in the Central, McCutchen will have to stay hot.
7) Jose Reyes – NYM (P: 3)
Jose Reyes is hitting .500 in the month of July. This is not noteworthy, as that is only over a two-game span. Reyes has been out of the Mets’ lineup since July 3rd with a hamstring problem, but is set to come back soon. Fantasy Baseball fans will find out if the injury will affect his ridiculous season average of .354, and his threat to run.
8) Brian McCann – ATL (P: 9)
Brian McCann has been the Atlanta Braves’ offense. With Chipper Jones going down with an injury, Martin Prado just coming back, and a struggling (although heating up) Dan Uggla, the Braves have lived off the bat of Brian McCann. He is hitting .308 with 16 homers and 53 RBIs, numbers that will only improve as the Braves’ offense starts to get healthy.
9) Ryan Howard – PHI (P: NR)
It is not often that the league-leader in RBIs does not get an invite to the All-Star game, but that was the case with Ryan Howard. While his average remains a low .251, Howard finds a way to drive in runs, with his league-leading total of 73 RBIs. His 18 home runs is right on pace with what fans should expect from Howard this season.
10) Rickie Weeks – MIL (P: NR)
The starting second baseman for the NL All-Stars started for a reason. Weeks has been big while Fielder and Braun struggle, hitting .277 for the season, and showing some serious pop with 18 home runs, which is on pace for a new career-high, topping last season’s total of 29. Keep an eye on the Central race, and how much Weeks has to do with it.
Tags: 2011 All Star Game, 2011 fantasy baseball, 2011 MLB All Star Game, Andrew McCutchen, Brian McCann, fantasy baseball power rankings, joey votto, jose reyes, Lance Berkman, Matt Kemp, National League, NL Power Rankings, prince fielder, Rickie Weeks, ryan braun