Here’s a primer on the NL Central, where the Pirates will play almost half their games. It focuses on the main story lines for most teams. Unfortunately, Cliff Corcoran insists there’s a chance Gerrit Cole can make the Pirates’ 25-man roster out of spring training. That is not going to happen.
By Cliff Corcoran, SI.com
The Big Question: Can Shin-Soo Choo play centerfield?
As I wrote at the time of the three-team, nine-player trade that brought him to Cincinnati, Shin-Soo Choo could be as much asa four-win upgrade over the 2012 version of Drew Stubbs as the Reds' new centerfielder -- provided that he can actually play centerfield. Choo has played just 10 games there prior to this season, and only one since 2007.
Just how large of a gamble the Reds are taking here depends on who you ask. Choo was regarded as a superlative defensive rightfielder in Cleveland, but advanced fielding metrics graded him harshly for last season. Still, he's a player with enough speed to regularly steal 20 bases at a high percentage, and while he's very likely to be sub-par in center, he won't be so bad that the total package of his fielding (which includes one of the best throwing arms in the game), baserunning and hitting (.289/.382/.458, 133 OPS+ over the last four years) won't still be several wins better than what the Reds got out of Stubbs last year.
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