ST. LOUIS • The Middle orders of the National League's middle-America teams have produced seven of the past 11 Most Valuable Players and National League Central teams have long boasted the best congregation of baseball baseball.
On Wednesday, the Group got even stronger.
Cubs president Theo Epstein outlines how he and his staff are awaiting the Cardinals to pool young talent and pull away a significant move, like Wednesday's for first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. The Cubs have advertised restraint this winter, suggesting that they would have to make a great deal of money and make it to Kris Bryant. The Cubs saw the Cardinals as an aggressor on the market this winter ̵
"Not having made the playoffs three years in a row and having that kind of depth of younger talent for another great player, and they certainly did in Paul Goldschmidt, "Epstein told reporters in Chicago. "The Cardinals do a great job producing young talent, having a lot of young players and making a lot of sense for them" They did that with the (Marcell) Ozuna trade. "
Milwaukee outfielder Christian Yelich became the second NL Central player in three years to win the MVP, following Bryant. Of the past 11 NL MVPs have been quiet in the division: Yelich (2018), Bryant (2016), Ryan Braun (2011), and Joey Votto (2010). Before that group, Albert Pujol's won back-to-back MVPs in 2009 and 2008.
As a Cardinal, Pujol's paced his position – and even after he has migrated to the American League in 2011, first base has been a force for many NL Central teams.
From 2012, the first season the division did not have Pujols, until today, Votto leads all first baseman with a .957 OPS, and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo ranks fifth with a .864 OPS. Rizzo ranks fifth among first basemen with a .493 slugging percentage since 2013, and Votto ranks second at the position with a .516 slugging percentage.  First at first when it comes to slugging?
"It's a great division before that and even better now," Epstein said. It's just to be expected … It just reinforces that the NL Central is to have, and we've got our work cut out for us, and that's how it should be. "