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JOEY VOTTO, REDS
With Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder gone, his only competition as the Central's best hitter is Ryan Braun. Votto led the NL with 40 doubles, 110 walks and a .416 OBP in 2011; another year like that could land him his second MVP.
ADAM WAINWRIGHT, CARDINALS
He missed all of 2011 after Tommy John surgery, but in 2009 and '10 he won more games (39), had a lower ERA (2.53) and threw more innings (463 1/3) than any other National League starter. Now healthy, Wainwright is ready to again be the Central's top ace.
RYAN BRAUN, BREWERS
The reigning MVP had an NL-best .994 OPS in 2011, along with 33 home runs and 111 RBIs. Now that the Brewers lack Fielder's bat—his replacement is Mat Gamel, who has five homers in 194 big league plate appearances—they need Braun more than ever.
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