2014 Positional Power Rankings: Center Field

What do we have here? For an explanation of this series, please read this introductory post. As noted in that introduction, the data is a hybrid projection of the ZIPS and Steamer systems with playing time determined through depth charts created by our team of authors. The rankings are based on aggregate projected WAR for each team at a given position. The author writing this post did not move your team down ten spots in order to make you angry. We don’t hate your team. I promise.

If you’ve been looking at the scale of these charts and wondering why we set the top end of the range to +9 when the best team is usually closer to +6, here’s your answer. Stupid Mike Trout.

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Trout’s dominance actually obscures McCutchen’s own greatness, as the gap between #2 and #3 would be the largest at any position if there wasn’t such a huge gap between #1 and #2 at this same spot. After the two franchise center fielders, things get a little more normal. Because of the strength of CF right now, no one is carrying a total zero at the position, and this group overall is stronger than most. It doesn’t hurt that two of the game’s premier players are carrying the top end either.

#1 Angels


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Mike Trout 630 .303 .402 .529 .401 43.1 4.8 2.7 8.0
J.B. Shuck 35 .263 .319 .328 .290 -0.6 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Collin Cowgill 35 .239 .294 .356 .288 -0.7 0.0 0.2 0.1
Total 700 .298 .393 .509 .389 41.8 4.8 2.8 8.1

When a team has the best player at his position, nee, the game, they can afford to roster replacement level talent around him. If anything, Trout serves as an excellent example of the concept of Wins Above Replacement if he were to miss any time. Even Murray Chass would be able to watch a game and finally grasp the concept. None of us, not even Rangers fans, want to see Trout fall short of this projected playing time. In a time when pitchers are dropping like flies due to injuries, we need to see our offensive starts as much as possible.

#2 Pirates


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Andrew McCutchen 630 .293 .381 .492 .377 31.3 1.5 0.3 5.9
Starling Marte 49 .271 .321 .430 .328 0.5 0.1 1.0 0.4
Jose Tabata 21 .269 .334 .386 .319 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .291 .375 .484 .372 31.9 1.5 1.4 6.3

Pittsburgh is fortunate enough to have one half of the dynamic duo of center fielders in the National League. McCutchen’s WAR has improved each season he has been in the majors. The 27 year old has three consecutive 20/20 seasons and he continues to create runs for a lineup that relies heavily upon his talented services. It is somewhat surprising that McCutchen has eclipsed the 100 run or 100 RBI mark just once in his five-year career given his skills, but that is more of an indictment of his supporting cast than anything.

#3 Yankees


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jacoby Ellsbury   630 .281 .338 .429 .336 6.6 4.3 5.6 4.3
Brett Gardner 35 .258 .338 .380 .320 -0.1 0.2 0.5 0.2
Ichiro Suzuki 35 .278 .308 .373 .297 -0.7 0.1 0.2 0.1
Total 700 .280 .336 .424 .333 5.8 4.5 6.4 4.6

In his five “full” seasons at the big league level, Ellsbury’s WAR totals have been quite the rollercoaster ride: 4.1, 2.1, 9.1, 1.4, 5.8. If you subscribe to the theory of Saberhagenmetrics, Ellsbury is in for a down year in his first season with New York. In reality, Ellsbury has had some freak injuries that led to his time on the disabled list from colliding with Adrian Beltre in left field to being landed on at second base by Reid Brignac while attempting a head first slide. Ellsbury made noticeable changes last season on how he handled pitches on the outer half, but the temptation of the short porch in right field may lead him to go away from that success in 2014. The Yankees have the luxury of moving Gardner over to center if Ellsbury were to go down and hopefully do not have to rely on Suzuki much if at all out there.

#4 Brewers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Carlos Gomez 630 .256 .309 .447 .328 4.4 3.6 11.5 4.4
Logan Schafer 70 .246 .301 .363 .295 -1.4 0.0 0.5 0.2
Total 700 .255 .308 .439 .325 3.1 3.6 12.0 4.6

Gomez is the Robin to the caped crusader in Pittsburgh. Gomez enjoys the advantage of having a stronger supporting cast around him, and responded well to being moved around the lineup as Milwaukee let him be the hitter he wanted to be. His defensive work in center is worth the price of admission to Miller Park and could be a serious MVP candidate this year as the roster around him will be much improved over last year’s group. Not to mention, only the defensive demigod Andrelton Simmons had a higher Defensive Runs Saved total than Gomez in 2013. His projections are nearly a 3-win drop from last season, which shows the risk in his skill set.

#5 Athletics


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Coco Crisp 490 .262 .328 .414 .326 4.1 2.8 -0.5 2.6
Craig Gentry   210 .253 .328 .341 .300 -2.4 1.2 4.7 1.2
Total 700 .260 .328 .392 .318 1.7 4.0 4.3 3.9

Oakland may have the best tandem in the league, which is a good thing given the flaws in both players. Crisp is getting long in the tooth and has been a below average defender each of the past three seasons. He makes up for his shortcomings in the field with strong baserunning and his excellence in stealing bases. Crisp has played as many as 145 games just twice in his career and has exceeded 130 games just twice in the past six seasons. When Chris Young departed,  Oakland traded Michael Choice to get Gentry. Gentry gives the team a superior defender, a good baserunner, and someone who hits lefties well. He has fought back issues all spring and those issues can tend to linger for awhile. If Gentry does open on the disabled list, Sam Fuld likely slots in here.

#6 Tigers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Austin Jackson 595 .270 .342 .415 .334 5.5 1.0 0.4 3.1
Rajai Davis   70 .261 .306 .367 .297 -1.4 0.6 -0.2 0.2
Don Kelly 35 .244 .312 .363 .301 -0.6 0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .268 .337 .408 .328 3.5 1.7 0.2 3.4

Jackson’s WAR floor as a major leaguer is 2.4 and he has been a 3-win player in three of his four seasons. Despite some minor injuries, he has eclipsed 600 plate appearances in each of his four seasons as he mostly hit leadoff under Jim Leyland. The addition of new manager Brad Ausmus plus Ian Kinsler may change his spot in the lineup. Perhaps the managerial change will allow Jackson to use his legs more as his stolen base total has dropped each of the past four seasons and last season’s hamstring issue was as much of a factor with that as Leyland’s ultra-conservative approach to the running game. Davis and Kelly are expected to platoon in left field during the first half of the season while Andy Dirks recovers from his back surgery.

#7 Cardinals


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Peter Bourjos 441 .253 .308 .403 .312 -0.2 1.4 5.9 2.4
Jon Jay 175 .273 .340 .379 .318 0.7 0.1 -1.0 0.6
Shane Robinson 49 .253 .321 .357 .302 -0.4 0.1 0.2 0.2
Oscar Taveras 35 .282 .326 .435 .329 0.4 0.0 -0.2 0.2
Total 700 .259 .318 .395 .314 0.5 1.6 4.9 3.3

St. Louis fans were hoping that Taveras would be ready to start the season, but that did not happen. The Cardinals were proactive in dealing with this scenario in trading David Freese for Bourjos. It allowed them to improve their infield defense and open up playing time for Kolten Wong, while significantly upgrading their defense in center. Fans that were sour on the way Jay played the position last season will enjoy watching Bourjos range for balls from gap to gap. Hip and wrist injuries have put a dent into his offensive production that he could not afford to lose, but he is still an excellent value defensively. In a perfect world, he gains back some of what he has lost at the plate and allows Taveras to take all of the time he needs to get ready for the role later in the season.

#8 Dodgers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Andre Ethier 210 .266 .344 .417 .332 3.3 -0.3 -1.7 0.9
Joc Pederson 21 .246 .310 .394 .311 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1
Nick Buss 14 .239 .282 .361 .283 -0.3 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Matt Kemp   455 .273 .340 .467 .346 12.4 0.8 -7.5 2.3
Total 700 .269 .339 .448 .339 15.4 0.5 -9.3 3.3

Take the comments utilized for Bourjos and reverse them for this group. There is not a natural center fielder here, but Ethier and Kemp will be asked to play the position most nights. The hope would be that Ethier faces enough right-handed pitching to continue hitting them well as he quietly has for some time now, and Kemp’s ankle can handle the position most nights. Both will need to provide enough offense to overlook their defensive shortcomings. Kemp is attempting to end a three-year wRC+ slide while Ethier’s wRC+ total has been at least 120 for six consecutive seasons. Perhaps a trade will happen at some point to clear a path for top prospect Pederson, who is rather blocked by the big contracts in the Los Angeles outfield.

#9 Nationals


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Denard Span 560 .274 .326 .377 .311 -2.6 1.3 4.6 2.4
Nate McLouth 49 .247 .319 .383 .311 -0.2 0.2 0.0 0.2
Bryce Harper 49 .277 .361 .504 .374 2.2 0.0 0.4 0.5
Jayson Werth 21 .273 .358 .454 .355 0.6 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Eury Perez 21 .278 .305 .355 .292 -0.4 0.0 0.2 0.1
Total 700 .272 .328 .387 .316 -0.4 1.6 5.0 3.2

Span has been one of the better defensive center fielders in recent seasons, which helps make up for the shortcomings in his overall offensive game. The bat is rather empty, but he does run the bases well and uses his speed to excel in the field. The offensive promise he showed earlier in his career is now a distant memory. Span has proven himself somewhat durable with a pair of 150+ game seasons over the past four seasons. The Nationals went across the harbor to grab a capable reserve in McLouth who can man center but is better served in left.

#10 Rays


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Desmond Jennings 595 .246 .326 .394 .319 3.3 3.2 -3.3 2.7
David DeJesus 105 .242 .318 .367 .306 -0.5 -0.1 -0.4 0.3
Total 700 .245 .324 .390 .317 2.8 3.1 -3.7 3.0

his is where the precipitous fall begins for the position. Jennings has not quite blossomed into the player he was projected to be in his prospect days. He does not throw well and has issues with balls in front of him in the field. At the plate, right-handed pitchers, especially those with good velocity, handle him rather well. He has added size in the offseason in hopes of doing more at the plate and staying strong throughout the season. DeJesus is a capable replacement when the matchup or health dictates it, but should be locked in a broom closet when a left-handed pitcher is on the mound.

#11 Indians


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Michael Bourn   574 .259 .321 .354 .301 -5.8 3.6 5.3 2.6
Nyjer Morgan 91 .249 .306 .334 .287 -1.9 0.1 0.1 0.2
Michael Brantley 35 .275 .331 .388 .316 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .258 .319 .353 .300 -7.7 3.7 5.4 2.9

Bourn’s debut in Cleveland did not go exactly as planned. His stellear defense was lost in his connecting flight from Atlanta to Cleveland, and his stolen base production took a hit as he posted the second-lowest on base percentage of his career. While center fielders can age quickly in their early to mid 30’s, 2013 was not something even the most pessimistic analyst could have projected. He has had a lot of volatility in his offensive value throughout his career as his offensive value has fluctuated from -23 to 16.8 in any given season. Perhaps 2013 was just another one of those cyclical efforts. The Indians hope so given the fact they are on board for another three seasons of his services.

#12 Blue Jays


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Colby Rasmus 525 .248 .317 .453 .334 5.1 0.7 0.2 2.7
Anthony Gose 175 .237 .297 .348 .287 -4.8 0.2 -0.5 0.1
Total 700 .245 .312 .426 .323 0.4 0.9 -0.4 2.9

Rasmus had previously showcased his offensive and defensive value, but never in the same season. He was strong defensively in 2009, strong offensively in 2010, but it was not until last season that he had positive value in both areas. 2014 is Rasmus’s final year before free agency as he potentially hits the open market as the best option for team looking for a center field by a considerable margin. Perhaps Toronto can talk him into sticking around for a few more seasons as they do not have a clear option behind him as Gose has been a disappointing prospect who does not look like an everyday outfielder.

#13 Diamondbacks


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
A.J. Pollock 455 .268 .317 .389 .310 -4.7 0.4 4.9 1.7
Gerardo Parra 210 .272 .331 .406 .321 -0.5 -0.1 3.4 1.1
Tony Campana 35 .251 .299 .311 .274 -1.4 0.2 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .268 .320 .390 .312 -6.6 0.6 8.3 2.8

The Adam Eaton experience in Arizona ended as quickly as it began. As GM Kevin Towers frequently does, he made up his mind to move on and is entrusting the position to Pollock and Parra. Parra is a proven asset in the field and is a low-ceiling/high-floor player at the plate. Pollock has fewer than 600 major league plate appearances, but the 3.6 WAR season as a rookie certainly impressed upper management enough for them to make the change. The strange thing is, the team was impressed with Eaton in 2012 and yet he was out the door just one season later. Pollock should get a longer leash.

#14 Orioles


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Adam Jones 595 .277 .317 .471 .342 8.7 1.2 -5.9 2.8
Quintin Berry 70 .220 .297 .296 .270 -2.9 0.5 -0.6 -0.1
Francisco Peguero   35 .264 .289 .365 .287 -1.0 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .271 .314 .449 .332 4.8 1.7 -6.6 2.8

Only in America can a player win a gold glove with below average defensive metrics. Jones has done it three times in the past four seasons. He has back to back 4-win seasons and rarely misses a day in the lineup. At 28 years old, he shows little signs of wearing down from the workload Buck Showalter puts upon his shoulders as his baseball card stats and other skills have been rather stable in recent seasons. Maybe he can win an MVP some time in the future with below average offensive numbers. Can we seriously rule that out?

#15 Rangers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Leonys Martin 560 .265 .319 .407 .318 -4.0 1.3 4.4 2.4
Engel Beltre 70 .250 .290 .350 .282 -2.5 -0.1 0.3 0.0
Alex Rios 35 .273 .312 .423 .320 -0.2 0.1 0.0 0.1
Michael Choice 35 .268 .334 .412 .329 0.1 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .264 .316 .402 .315 -6.6 1.3 4.6 2.7

Martin flashed his potential in his first full season in the major leagues on the basepaths and in the field, particularly when baserunners tried to take the extra base or tag up on flyballs to center field. Martin has some issues against left-handed pitching that will limit his ceiling until they are addressed, but his defense and baserunning can carry him for the time being. The clean platoon situation he had last season with Craig Gentry is now gone as the Rangers are hoisting more responsibility onto him to see i he can handle it.

#16 Padres


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Will Venable 385 .253 .312 .435 .323 3.8 1.6 -2.6 1.7
Alexi Amarista 70 .251 .290 .362 .287 -1.3 0.0 -0.2 0.1
Reymond Fuentes 35 .242 .307 .333 .287 -0.6 0.1 0.1 0.1
Chris Denorfia 35 .264 .321 .384 .311 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.2
Cameron Maybin   175 .246 .311 .375 .304 -1.0 0.9 0.4 0.7
Total 700 .251 .310 .405 .312 0.8 2.5 -2.2 2.7

Venable has flashed his speed and power potential in previous seasons, but it was not until 2013 that he put it all together and had one of the quietest 20/20 seasons in recent memory. He took full advantage of extra playing time afforded to him by Maybin missing most of the season. Venable’s offensive value has increased each of the past three seasons as he has earned more and more playing time. Maybin is already hurt to start the 2014 season, so the playing time should be there once against with Denorfia spelling him for some of the tougher matchups against left-handed pitching.

#17 Astros


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Dexter Fowler 560 .243 .348 .378 .326 3.4 1.6 -5.7 2.1
Robbie Grossman 70 .234 .323 .338 .299 -1.0 -0.1 -0.4 0.1
George Springer 70 .241 .320 .439 .332 0.8 0.2 0.0 0.4
Total 700 .242 .342 .380 .324 3.2 1.6 -6.2 2.6

Fowler has played the largest center field in the league throughout his career, so a change to the unique situation in Houston should not be a problem for him. His plate discipline has remained rather constant, as has his career trends of taking full advantage of Coors Field while struggling to hit on the road. He has a career 115 wRC+ at home and a 92 wRC+ on the road. He will be the leadoff man for Houston in 2014 as they wish to leverage his on base skills to help generate runs at the top of the lineup that will see Jose Altuve and Jason Castro hit behind him. Grossman is expected to get most of his time in left field while Springer will come up after the Super Two deadline to assume most of the playing time in right field.

#18 Mets


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Chris Young 385 .225 .309 .404 .314 0.7 0.5 2.6 1.8
Juan Lagares 105 .251 .289 .356 .283 -2.4 -0.1 1.9 0.3
Matt den Dekker 70 .227 .277 .355 .279 -1.8 0.0 0.0 0.1
Eric Young 70 .243 .311 .332 .289 -1.2 0.6 0.0 0.2
Kirk Nieuwenhuis 35 .222 .293 .369 .293 -0.5 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Andrew Brown 35 .231 .296 .402 .306 -0.1 0.0 -0.2 0.1
Curtis Granderson 21 .226 .314 .422 .323 0.2 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 721 .231 .302 .383 .302 -5.2 1.1 4.1 2.6

When you have seven center fielders, you really have none. The Mets will have a clean platoon situation with Young and Lagares getting most of the time, but their value is nearly completely tied up in their defensive abilities. The 30-year old Young does not run as much as he once did, and his K% and BB% are trending in the wrong directions. Lagares showed as much in the field in 2013 as he did little at the plate. Bartolo Colon should love the duo hawing his fly balls in play this season.

#19 Giants


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Angel Pagan   525 .271 .324 .396 .315 2.3 2.0 -3.9 1.9
Gregor Blanco 105 .239 .321 .331 .293 -1.4 0.2 0.3 0.3
Juan Perez 70 .254 .289 .368 .289 -1.1 -0.1 0.8 0.2
Total 700 .264 .320 .383 .309 -0.2 2.1 -2.7 2.4

Pagan has been an above league-average offensive player for four of the past five seasons on the strength of his baserunning and ability to make solid contact. His BB%, K%, and slash lines have been remarkably stable, unlike his defensive metrics which have been all over the place. He has played in 150 or more games just twice in his major league career, and a balky hamstring could afford Blanco more time up the middle in 2014. Blanco is the superior player defensively in terms of consistency, but is more limited offensively.

#20 Royals


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Lorenzo Cain 490 .257 .313 .373 .304 -6.9 0.6 5.4 1.8
Justin Maxwell 91 .227 .303 .398 .309 -0.9 0.1 0.5 0.3
Jarrod Dyson 70 .247 .308 .327 .284 -2.0 0.8 0.7 0.2
Carlos Peguero 49 .240 .294 .407 .306 -0.6 -0.1 -0.8 0.0
Total 700 .251 .310 .374 .303 -10.4 1.4 5.8 2.4

Cain continues to shine in the field while struggling at the plate. He has the BB% and K% of a power hitter, yet does not hit with power. He has speed, but does not get on base enough to fully utilize it. The defense keeps him in the lineup despite the struggles, as does the fact that the list behind him offers little. Maxwell was decimated by injuries throughout his developmental years and has become a short-sided platoon bat option while Dyson’s main value is to drive pitchers nuts on the basepaths.

#21 Marlins


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Marcell Ozuna 455 .251 .295 .413 .310 -3.0 0.4 1.3 1.5
Jake Marisnick 154 .243 .294 .370 .293 -3.0 0.0 0.7 0.3
Brent Keys 49 .284 .336 .352 .308 -0.4 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Christian Yelich 21 .259 .329 .404 .323 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.1
Alfredo Silverio 21 .248 .285 .383 .292 -0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .252 .299 .398 .306 -6.8 0.3 2.0 2.1

Ozuna is still developing as an offensive player, but the raw skills show what lies ahead for the talented player. He used his athleticism to play solid outfield defense last season, but has yet to show the power at the major league level he repeatedly flashed in the minors. Youth is the name of the game in Miami as they hope athleticism can outweigh inexperience and risk.

#22 White Sox


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Adam Eaton 525 .262 .342 .371 .320 -1.9 1.4 -4.1 1.6
Alejandro De Aza 140 .262 .323 .396 .317 -0.8 0.2 -0.2 0.5
Jared Mitchell 35 .178 .267 .297 .255 -1.9 0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 700 .258 .335 .372 .316 -4.6 1.6 -4.2 2.0

Eaton should be able to do somewhat better defensively in a smaller ballpark without the deep gaps that Chase Field presented him. He never really got a fair shake last season as an elbow issue put him behind the eight ball all season and did not really show the speed and ability to hit for average that he did all throughout his minor league career. de Aza may not be long for the roster as his name has been tied up in several trade rumors this spring, but Chicago was clearly not satisfied with what he provided last season.

#23 Red Sox


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jackie Bradley 455 .251 .328 .388 .317 -2.5 -0.3 -0.8 1.4
Grady Sizemore 140 .232 .291 .383 .297 -3.0 -0.2 -1.3 0.1
Shane Victorino 70 .271 .333 .423 .332 0.4 0.3 1.3 0.5
Corey Brown 35 .219 .285 .380 .293 -0.9 0.0 -0.2 0.0
Total 700 .248 .319 .390 .314 -6.0 -0.3 -1.0 2.0

In the 2013 Grapefruit League season, everyone was heaping praises on Jackie Bradley Jr and how he was going to be a big part of Boston’s season. He was not. Fast forward to 2014 and those praises are now being heaped upon Sizemore, and so far, he has not broken apart from the extra weight on his legs. What he will do in 2014 remains to be seen but this quartet of options is quite the step down from what Ellsbury provided last season. Some would say this is the Achilles heel of the defending World Champions.

#24 Cubs


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ryan Sweeney 385 .265 .324 .401 .319 -1.1 -0.2 -1.9 1.1
Justin Ruggiano 105 .251 .316 .429 .327 0.3 -0.1 0.0 0.4
Junior Lake 70 .255 .300 .384 .302 -1.1 0.0 0.4 0.2
Brett Jackson 70 .217 .296 .368 .295 -1.5 0.0 0.0 0.1
Casper Wells   35 .227 .299 .396 .307 -0.4 -0.1 0.1 0.1
Darnell McDonald 35 .235 .298 .357 .291 -0.9 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .254 .315 .398 .314 -4.7 -0.4 -1.4 1.8

It is too bad management cannot just eschew service time concerns and let Javier Baez play center field this season. A Sweeney/Ruggiano platoon has zero upside to it, and simply serves as a way to fill the gap as the team waits for Jorge Soler and Albert Almora to make their way up the organizational ladder. Ruggiano has a .371 wOBA on fastballs for his career and a .273 wOBA on all non-fastballs. Eventually, the league will stop throwing him fastballs.

#25 Mariners


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Abraham Almonte 455 .245 .308 .360 .297 -7.8 0.7 -2.3 0.8
Michael Saunders 210 .234 .314 .392 .312 -1.2 0.4 0.5 0.8
Dustin Ackley 35 .256 .331 .373 .312 -0.2 0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .243 .311 .370 .302 -9.1 1.2 -1.8 1.7

This is the one position where the team is expected to play outfielders that will not double as statues in the outfield. Almonte has seen a large share of the Cactus League time and should open the season as the starter for the position. He has posted multiple double-digit walk rates in the minor leagues as well as multiple 20+ stolen base seasons which hints at his potential after resurrecting his career. Saunders has had back to back double-double seasons in with home runs and steals, but is the inferior defender.

#26 Rockies


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Drew Stubbs 280 .254 .324 .397 .319 -4.3 1.8 -0.3 0.7
Corey Dickerson 210 .272 .319 .470 .341 0.5 -0.4 -1.1 0.6
Brandon Barnes 140 .253 .301 .394 .306 -3.5 -0.1 0.4 0.2
Charlie Blackmon 70 .268 .318 .408 .318 -1.1 0.1 -0.3 0.1
Total 700 .261 .317 .420 .323 -8.4 1.3 -1.3 1.6

Playing this position in Colorado presents unique challenges because of how much ground must be covered. The center fielder has to play back to defend the gaps, and Stubbs has the athleticism to make it happen. The issue is that he can be very much overexposed at the plate when he has to face too many right-handed pitchers. He and Dickerson would make a clean platoon. The duo will be asked to match what Dexter Fowler himself provided to the Rockies, which will be a tall task for them.

#27 Reds


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Billy Hamilton 490 .255 .310 .348 .293 -10.1 4.5 2.0 1.4
Skip Schumaker 119 .255 .317 .335 .292 -2.6 -0.2 -1.6 0.0
Chris Heisey 70 .248 .297 .416 .311 -0.4 0.1 0.1 0.2
Ryan Lamarre 21 .235 .294 .328 .279 -0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .254 .309 .352 .294 -13.8 4.4 0.5 1.6

This is a tenuous situation, at best. Hamilton is an extreme risk as we are not sure he will be able to hit enough to remain in the everyday lineup. The problem Cincinnati has is that they do not have a clean backup option should the Hamilton experiment fail. None of the others are everyday players, meaning Hamilton will have a very long opportunity to prove his worth.

#28 Phillies


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ben Revere 525 .283 .323 .341 .296 -9.4 2.7 1.1 1.3
John Mayberry 105 .240 .297 .402 .306 -1.0 0.0 -0.6 0.2
Cesar Hernandez 35 .267 .310 .346 .291 -0.7 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Clete Thomas 35 .216 .276 .352 .278 -1.1 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .272 .316 .351 .296 -12.3 2.6 0.3 1.5

Revere’s defensive value dropped off considerably as he made the switch from the American League to the National League. The foot injury may have had a factor in that as it clearly affected his stolen base production. His defense and steals are what he brings to the table as he is still in search of his first major league home run 1400 plate appearances into his major league career. He is just 25 years old, making him one of the youngest regulars on the team by 19 years.

#29 Braves


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
B.J. Upton 434 .227 .302 .394 .306 -3.1 1.1 -0.6 1.3
Jordan Schafer 189 .218 .292 .309 .270 -6.7 0.5 -0.5 0.0
Jose Constanza 35 .259 .305 .312 .275 -1.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Jason Heyward 21 .262 .349 .460 .354 0.6 0.0 0.4 0.2
Todd Cunningham 21 .251 .305 .331 .285 -0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .228 .301 .367 .296 -10.9 1.7 -0.7 1.5

Atlanta has multiple positions where they are strong defensively; this is not one of them. Upton has issues making throws his arm cannot cash and struggles with balls hit in front of him. His struggles at the plate were not injury related as they were earlier in his career as much as they were related to a loss in bat speed. Upton is a habitual tinkerer at the plate and has been working with his coaches on adjustments this offseason. How long they stick is unknown. Upton can’t possibly be as bad as he was last year, but if he is, Schafer could see more time.

#30 Twins


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Alex Presley 385 .260 .313 .389 .309 -2.8 0.0 -4.2 0.8
Aaron Hicks 280 .220 .297 .349 .288 -6.7 0.0 -0.2 0.4
Darin Mastroianni 35 .233 .299 .307 .274 -1.2 0.1 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .243 .306 .369 .299 -10.8 0.0 -4.4 1.1

This situation is so bad that the team’s assistant GM publicly bemoaned the effort of Presley and Hicks to the media earlier this week. This is a microcosm of the reasons why the Twins are likely stuck in neutral in the standings in 2014 despite their upgrades to their pitching staff.




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65 Responses to “2014 Positional Power Rankings: Center Field”

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  1. Frank says:

    YOU HATE MY TEAM!

    -Red Sox Fan

    PS Actually, you might be being kind… easy to see a Sizemore total bust and JBJ not being ready at all for a full season in the bigs.

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    • B N says:

      I think the Red Sox projection is overly bleak, provided Victorino stays healthy. The Flyin’ Hawaii’n can always fly over one position to save CF, if needed. An OF that rotates pairs of Nava/Gomes/Carp to fill the corners wouldn’t make many “Defensive Gems” reels, but would offer enough offense to be respectable.

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    • redsoxu571 says:

      I’d be curious to see where Boston would ranking if JBJ were given the positive defensive value that he likely would earn for the projected playing time.

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  2. SeaBass says:

    Baez is ready. 100%. Shame about all the service time baloney. He’s really going to waste a year (or maybe just the first half) of his youth. hate the Cubs but I still want to see this guy against MLB pitchers.

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    • Grant says:

      You’d see a ton of K’s and bad defense. Lots of homers, but he’s not going to turn them into contenders. There’s no sense in wasting his cheap years away on a bad team.

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  3. tjk says:

    I think Adam Jones has at least another year or two before he drops a win and a half.

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  4. marc says:

    “Saberhagenmetrics.”

    Well played sir, well played.

    +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Deelron says:

    While I don’t think any of the Twins options are any good I’m not sure you could expect more out of Hicks to publicly complain about his spring training results (which looks even more foolish today then it did on the date of the article).

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  6. Pale Hose says:

    First half Mike Trout and second half Mike Trout are the 4th and 5th best centerfielders.

    +28 Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Blount says:

    Jackie Bradley Jr’s mediocre to poor defensive projections are baseless.

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    • Anon21 says:

      How do you even project defense for guys who have very little major-league playing time? Are scouts being polled?

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      • RC says:

        That’s a good question. It seems like there are some absolutely absurd projections for rookie players that don’t match what the scouts are saying at all.

        Pretty much everyone thinks Bradley is defensively elite.

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        • Paul says:

          People have also said Adam Jones and Derek Jeter are great defenders. Scouts aren’t always correct. This projection systems aren’t always correct, either. You need a combination, and not to disregard a projection just because it doesn’t match what scouts think.

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      • RC says:

        Also, if its a hybrid between ZIPS and Steamer, how the hell are we getting -.8 from ZIPS +3.7 and Steamer’s -1.7.

        You only get -.8 if you’re giving Steamer way more weight than ZIPS, like 85% Steamer, 15% ZIPS, which seems ridiculous.

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  8. KCDaveInLA says:

    Doesn’t CarGo factor into the Rockies’ center field situation? I would think that would put them into the top 10 at least.

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  9. Baxter says:

    I get that Jones has terrible plate discipline, but in what world is he a below average offensive player?

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  10. RC says:

    “everyone was heaping praises on Jackie Bradley Jr and how he was going to be a big part of Boston’s season. ”

    Really? I seem to remember a very large contingent saying he needed another year of seasoning, including much of the Red Sox front office. He only got a couple of weeks in the ML because Ortiz’s injury allowed them to shift an OF to first and Napoli to DH.

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    • Spit Ball says:

      Boston talk shows were not saying that. Everyone in town wanted Bradley on the opening day roster and they got him; for a couple weeks anyway.

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      • arc says:

        Sports talk shows – particularly those in major media markets like Boston – have got to be some of the most reliable contraindicators around.

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  11. Sylvan says:

    I think you’re mistaken in projecting so little playing time for Lagares in CF. Unless he completely flops, he should push Chris Young over to a corner at least few times a week, and possibly more.

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  12. Kyle says:

    I might be reading things wrong, but I’m sorry, Colby Rasmus as a +0.2 defender in center is absurd. The guy is incredible out there. The only reason for a decline from his 2012 performance is that he’ll only be playing center as opposed to center AND left simultaneously as he did when a hobbled Melky was wandering about.

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    • Catoblepas says:

      that might still be a little low, but the numbers for Fld given above don’t have the positional adjustment included, whereas the numbers on the player pages for Def do, which might make the projection look worse than it is.

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  13. Rauce says:

    Justin Maxwell played all of 16 innings in CF for the Royals last year.
    I don’t care how often the Astros used him in center, there’s no way he gets 91 PAs for the Royals.

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  14. cass says:

    Alas, Baltimore is not “across the Harbor” from DC, but I understand that “up 95″ doesn’t sound too romantic. You could travel down the Potomac by boat and then up the Chesapeake if you wanted to, but that’d take awhile and not be terribly direct.

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  15. Josh says:

    Is Aaron Hicks really that bad?

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  16. walt526 says:

    FWIW, someone to keep an eye on if Pagan misses significant time again is Juan Perez. His defense is exceptional and he has the potential of putting something together like .270/.300/.400, which is basically a poor man’s Peter Bourjos. He is not on anyone’s radar because he’s already 27 with less than 100 PA in MLB, but he’s had an atypical and delayed professional career. Not an All Star, but a guy who could quietly be a solid contributor with 1.5-2 wins who seemingly comes out of nowhere (not unlike Blanco was in 2012).

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  17. Bookbook says:

    I think you’ve probably overrated the M’s here. (Unless Saunders plays. CF full time)

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  18. Momus says:

    These rankings have been very enjoyable. For one thing it’s nice to read something where the Blue Jays are ranked somewhere other than mid-pack.

    I’d try to object to the ranking of Colby Rasmus here, but honestly I don’t think anyone has a clue what he’s going to do this year. A 4.8 bWAR last year, and a cumulative 1.0 bWAR the previous two seasons. Here’s hoping for continued progression as he suddenly (finally) looked like he could become a truly elite CF last year.

    That said if he does really well this is probably his last season in Toronto. Sigh.

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  19. HawaiiFO says:

    Sam Fuld- Athletics
    -15 UZR/150 CF 2013
    -22/UZR/150 CF Career
    18 wRC+ vs RHP 2013

    .6 WAR ZIPS 90 games. (2 Def, so not at CF)

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  20. BenRevereDoesSteroids says:

    “None of us, not even Rangers fans, want to see Trout fall short of this projected playing time.”

    False. Although I don’t want to see him get injured. Maybe find out that he knocked up a couple thousand women last season, and will need to take a couple hundred days of paternity leave.

    Signed, a Rangers’ fan.

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  21. Josh says:

    You know I understand the criticism of Adam Jones but he has consistently proven that he outperforms the peripherals as a hitter and he may not be the best defensive player but I am still skeptical of UZR when he goes from 5.9 as a 22 year old in 2008 to -6.8 last year. He should be closer to 5/6 than 14 imo and Lough is far more likely to get whatever innings Jones doesnt play in center than Quentin Berry.

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    • Naliamegod says:

      Why do people hold UZR to insane standard but not other stats? If this was any other number, people would just assume the 5.9 as a 22 year old was a fluke/something happened. But with UZR? Clearly something is wrong

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      • Josh says:

        I just see such extreme fluctuations year to year it doesnt make any sense. I mean look at Jhonny Peralta he doesnt pass the eye test at all but his UZR has been great the past few years but then go back a little further and his UZR was terrible. Colby Rasmus is more of the same and these are just a few guys off the top of my head. Jones isnt the best CF in baseball but I think he is closer to average/above average than what UZR says.

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        • Kevin says:

          colby rasmus passes the eye-test pretty easily. he runs like a gazelle and shows good judgement. the only part of his game defensively that leaves something to be desired is his arm, which is both weak and inaccurate.

          UZR handles him pretty well – he’s quite good, but not elite.

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        • Momus says:

          Yeah, Rasmus is not a good example to use to make your case. His range and routes are both excellent and he’s correctly regarded as an tremendous defensive center fielder. If he manages to continue the improvements from last year he will be considered an elite CF by the end of the season.

          …and then some team will offer him $150M over the summer

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  22. DrBGiantsfan says:

    A WAR of 1.9 for Angel Pagan seems awfully low then you have him down for 525 PA’s and he’s averaged 2.8 WAR/500 PA’s since 2008 including an abysmal 2011 which he seems unlikely to repeat. In addition, Blanco has put up 5.1 WAR over the past 2 seasons while playing approximately half his innings in CF. If Pagan only gets 525 PA’s then Blanco is very likely to get more than 105 in CF in 2014.

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  23. Cool Lester Smooth says:

    Since when is producing exactly league average offense tantamount to having an “empty bat”?

    Span is being really, really sold short, here.

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  24. Cool Lester Smooth says:

    Also, vis a vis Revere, the logical conclusion to draw from a weirdly low UZR over half a season isn’t that he had a defensive dropoff. It’s that there was a weird fluctuation, as UZR is known to do.

    Also, I’m not sure how you could possibly interpret the foot injury as having affected his SB production, unless you mean that it’s keeping him out for the second half meant that he couldn’t reach the 40 steals he was on pace for.

    His 2012 SB total was 40 steals. He was on base for 36 steals had he reached his 2012 PA total. That’s not a dropoff. It’s a fluctuation.

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  25. Za says:

    Lagares put up 2.9 WAR in 121 games last year as a rookie and seems to have made significant strides in pitch recognition. First off, it’s clear that the Mets will be using him primarily in CF with Chris Young in LF and Granderson in RF, so the playing time estimates are completely unrealistic. 105 at bats for a guy who put up 400 at the position last year and has only cemented his place in the Mets’ OF?

    Gimme a break. I’d put money on Lagares putting up 4 WAR next year.

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  26. The Kudzu Kid says:

    Nee?

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  27. Richard says:

    “Revere’s defensive value dropped off considerably as he made the switch from the American League to the National League. The foot injury may have had a factor in that as it clearly affected his stolen base production.”

    Um, Revere’s foot injury ended his season. Till that point, his stolen base production was fine. It’s not clear what was up with his defense, other than the move to center from right.

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  28. skmd says:

    what makes you think Baez can play CF?

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  29. jim S. says:

    Gerardo Parra also saved 41 runs last season — same as Simmons — and more than Gomez.

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  30. David says:

    Regressing Adam Jones two wins is getting a little cute with the metrics. He had pretty consistent progression over his developmental years, became a 4 win prime year player in 2012, and replicated that performance almost exactly in 2013. Expecting him to begin his decline already at age 28 seems a little soon. I would expect another couple season within a half win or so of 4 WAR before we see him decline to a league average starter.

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  31. dennis says:

    The Orioles are getting downgraded because your player projections have Adam Jones missing 20 games, something he has not done in 4 years, and you are regressing him downward by a win and a quarter, despite the fact that he has 2 nearly identical seasons at 4+ wins, and he is only 28. On top of that, you have Quentin Berry, Francisco Peguero, and their negative WAR picking up the slack at CF. A far more “give Adam Jones rest/recovery from injury” scenario involves moving Lough over to CF and Cruz to LF. In which case the O’s have a scrub for a DH, but that should be reflected in the DH depth chart, not in the CF depth chart. The likelihood that Berry and Peguero get 100 ABs and significant innings in CF seems beyond small, especially when the chance that both of them even make the ML opening day roster is slim at best.

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