Blog Entry

Top 20 Center Fielders

Posted on: December 2, 2010 5:56 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2010 5:59 pm
 
I am devouring these stats at a rapid pace but its hard not to, these posts are the most fun i have had in a while. Im at the end of the semester in college so this is way more fun than studying. I wanted to continue to look at the positions that are not as deep in terms of offensive talent so i thought i would move to Center Field.The top level of this list is really good but as a disclaimer a lot of the better center fielders are really corner outfielders who can play center field.Oh and before i get into the post i wanted to brush you up on some of the stats i use in case you've been wondering.

UZR- Ultimate Zone Rating- It rates players defense based on how many runs they save or allow compared to the average replacment level player.
WAR- Wins Above Replacment- Rates a players value based on how many wins they create or lose compared to the average replacement level player.
Slash line- Batting average/.On base percentage/.slugging percentage
ISO- Isolated Power- Subtracting a players average from their slugging which gives you an idea of a players power

TOP TIER

1. Josh Hamilton (TEX)
There is no way anyone can argue with this, he was clearly the best player in major league baseball this year and has amazing natural ability. He is in the Prime of his career and has the abilitiy to win multiple batting titles and home run titles along with playing excellent defense. He is one of those players i love because he does everything well, plus he is just a great human interest story with the adversity he faced to get to this point. He is definitely in a league of his own in terms of his position and right up their with Albert Pujols as one of the greatest players in the league right now.

2. Carlos Gonzalez (COL)
Similar to Hamilton he plays all outfield positions but his home is in center field (not his best position though). He has evolved from the best prospect in the Matt Holliday trade to one of the best players in the game. Again he does everything right at the plate, on the base paths and is pretty good defensively. Now what negates some of his value is that he does play at Coors field which really inflates his numbers, take a look at his home/road splits (.380/.425/.737 home, .289/.322/.452 road). But even with the benifit of Coors field he is still and elite center fielder. In terms of defense he is solid but he did not deserve the gold glove (we all know the gold glove awards are a joke now anyways). Gonzalez is no where near as good as Hamilton but is young enough that he could be close in his prime.

SECOND TIER

3. Shane Victorino (PHI)
After the top 2 guys there is a big dropoff in terms of talent and production but i like Victorino as the top of the next tier of guys. He may not put up as sexy numbers as some of the other centerfielders but he is a spark plug in that Philadelphia offense. Like many of the Phillies players he is a gamer and can get those clutch hits. But even without that aspect he is one of those great all around players that i like. He is good in every category (.279/.342/.428 career line, 30+ SB threat with above average defense (career 11.4 UZR). A lot of the guys in this second tier are interchangeable and this is just the order that i like but they are very equal in terms of talent.

4. Curtis Granderson (NYY)
Although he may not have put up the numbers the Yankees were expecting out of him, he is still one of the all around best center fielders in the game. The only major flaw in his game is his tendency to strikeout and his inability to hit for a high average. But he does provide a punch at the plate with substantial power for a center fielder (.213 career ISO) and also has good speed as he has topped 20 stolen bases twice. He plays good defense too as he has a career 21.8 UZR, he has excellent range and is able to cover the whole field. Again he fits the mold of player that i tend to like and he has a great personality and is great to the community. All in all he is a great ball player.

5. Alex Rios (CWS)
I really like the center field position now, there are a lot of players who fit the mold of player that i like. Rios is another guy who gives you postive production in every aspect of his game. At the plate he provides a solid average with the ability to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases (career .281/.331/.446 with 151 SB). Not only does he provide great offense but he also posses good defensive ability as he has a career 10.3 UZR in center. Rios had struggled in 09' but was able to make a strong comeback last season and was probably the best hitter on the White Sox last year. Looking at his career his has a proven track record (exception in 09') and is in the Prime of his career so im sure he will be this good for a while.

6. Andrew McCutchen (PIT)
Yet another player who provides the complete package and is a major cog in his teams offense. Yes he may be on a very bad Pittsburgh team but they are on the rise in terms of their offese with stars such as Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, and Neil Walker emerging last season. McCutchen is also one of the youngest guys on this list and i think he still has room to grow from where he is at right now. His career line is currently at .286/.365/.459 and can steal around 30 bases at the age of 24. Now according to his UZR he had a rough year defensively but i think he will improve upon that he has the speed and the ability to cover the field but his hands and arm are subpar. He will never be at Josh Hamilton's level but could be at the upper level of the second tier in his prime.

7. Colby Rasmus (STL)
The Cardinals have another stud centerfielder in Rasmus, wether he remains in St. Louis is unclear but where ever he plays he is still an outstanding young centerfielder. Colby Rasmus showed off some good power last season as he put up a .222 ISO and improved in basically every offensive category in his second season. He does strike out too much and i doubt he will be able to maintain that .276 average if he continues to strike out in 31.9 percent of his at bats as he did last season. But you can not deny that Rasmus has skills and at the age of 24 has plenty of room to grow. His defense could use some work as he was -6.5 UZR last season but he has the potential to get better. Of  the young centerfielders on this list i think Rasmus has the highest ceiling.

THIRD TIER

8. Franklin Gutierrez (SEA)
He definitely stuggled last season after really breaking out in 09', but his saving grace is that he is arguably the best defensive center fielder in the game (58.3 UZR in the past 3 seasons). His offense is nothing to write home about but he can provide a solid average with average power and plus speed (career .261/.316/.400 and 25 SB last season). He is only 27 so he is entering his prime years and should be able to put up some solid offensive numbers to qualify his outstanding defense. I dont think his offense will ever be able to improve enough to move him into the second tier tough.

9. Matt Kemp (LAD)
A lot of people probably think this guy should be higher on the list and if you look at his overall offensive numbers he is better than Gutierrez and some of the others ahead of him. But i cant put a guy who posted a -24 UZR last season ahead of the best defensive center fielder in the game no matter how good his offensive numbers are. And even when looking at his offensive numbers last season he struggled hitting .249/.310/.450 and was only worth .4 wins. The only reason he even made the top 10 is because of his 09' season and the fact that he is only 26 so i think he can turn it around. He has the ability offensively to hit close to .300 with 20+ home run power and 30+ stolen bases but will have to rebuild his value next year to move up. Kemp could be a second tier guy and maybe even a first tier but he will really need to turn things around next season.

10. Adam Jones (BAL)
Jones is one of those guys that i have always been on his bandwagon and have liked from his days as a top prospect. But he has yet to deliver on my expectations, that being said he is still a very good young center fielder. He is steadily improving each year and at the age of 25 still has plenty of time to put it all together. His career numbers arnt bad either with a career .274/.319/.427 line, he dosnt get on base enough and strikes out too much but provides some pop (.153 career ISO) and a solid average. He plays average defense (career -6 UZR) as he has good speed and a good arm but is below average in the other categories. His ceiling is not as high as many of us thought it would be put in his prime he should be a solid 2nd tier guy.

11. Grady Sizemore (CLE)
12. Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS)
13. Austin Jackson (DET)
14. Michael Bourn (HOU)

FOURTH TIER

15. Chris Young (ARI)
16. Vernon Wells (TOR)
17. Angel Pagan (NYM)
18. B.J. Upton (TB)
19. Marlon Byrd (CHC)
20. Andres Torres (SF)

Almost made the list-

Drew Stubbs, Denard Span
 
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Comments

Since: Mar 25, 2009
Posted on: December 7, 2010 10:40 pm
 

Top 20 Center Fielders

All I can say then is agree to disagree, based on the scouting reports i have seen and seeing both players in person i rate Rasmus much higher and i am just not a fan of Stubbs. I dont like what Dusty Baker does with players of his mold as he destroyed Corey Pattersons once promising career. He convinced Patterson to swing for the fences instead of utilizing his true ability of speed rather than drive in runs. If Stubbs learns how to bunt and limits his strikeouts and puts up these numbers consitently then i will rank him higher. I understand why you like Stubbs he is a very skilled player and hopefully will have a long and succesful career but sufice it to say that i am not sold on several of the Reds players with the exception of Jay Bruce, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. So i see where your argument is coming from and intially i did have Stubbs on this list but he is just one of those players that i am not sold on. I hope he proves me wrong, living in Cincinnati and them being a team that i do like, but for now he is off my list. I am glad we were able to have a good discussion about this, i hope i dont come off as being rude. You have made some very good points and have given me a lot to think about and hopefully I can improve upon these rankings in the future.

Thank You



Since: Sep 25, 2006
Posted on: December 3, 2010 12:32 pm
 

Top 20 Center Fielders

So Stubbs' minor league stats are more important than his major league stats?  To suggest his power is suddenly going to disappear based on minor league numbers does not make a lot of sense to me.  In 2009 in the majors he homered every 22.5 ABs, and in 2010 he homered in every 23.4 ABs.  I don't think anyone is suggesting Stubbs will ever be a 35-40 HR type guy, but considering his speed, defense and power and the fact that he was a 1st round pick suggests he still has tons of upside.



Since: Mar 25, 2009
Posted on: December 3, 2010 9:37 am
 

Top 20 Center Fielders

In Drew Stubbs minor league career he never put up those types of offensive numbers, in AAA in 09' his ISO was .092 and his minor league track record and scouting reports suggest he does not have that type of power. Yes he does play good defense, although his UZR was league average last season he does not posses the ceiling of Colby Rasmus and similar to Colby he strikes out too much (32.7 K%) so unless his pop is for real he is going to be closer to Corey Patterson than Colby Rasmus. Yes they are similar players based on thier statistics last season but in terms of overall offensive talent Colby Rasmus is better and Drew Stubbs is more likely to regress. In my rankings i like to see players who have proved themselves in more than one season, if he produces similar numbers next season he will sky rocket on this list and if Rasmus puts up similar numbers he will go down as i expect more than him. But for now i am not sold on Drew Stubbs (also a not RBI's are one of the most wortless statistics, dont use that in an argument over statistical value as it only evaluates how good of an offense he plays on.)



Since: Jan 5, 2007
Posted on: December 3, 2010 8:32 am
 

Top 20 Center Fielders

Want to point out that Josh Hamilton also plays in a park that inflates his stats a bit as well as coming from a previous team that had a park that inflated his stats a bit as well.  If you look at the Home/Road splits for Cargo and Hamilton the splits look extremely similar.   Both are heads and tails above the competetion below them but both benefit about equally from their home parks.



Since: Sep 25, 2006
Posted on: December 3, 2010 8:05 am
 

Top 20 Center Fielders

This list somewhat baffles me.  Colby Rasmus 7th with 23 hr 66 rbi .859 OPS 12 steals, poor defense in center, rated way higher than Drew Stubbs 22 hr 77 RBI .773 OPS 30 steals and gold glove caliber center fielder.  Rasmus is better in OPS, but 1/3 of the steals of stubbs.  Defense is extremely important in center.  Stubbs is 1.4 WAR (defensively) and Rasmus was -0.9.  I can barely see how you rate Rasmus higher, but to rank him 7th and Stubbs outside of the top 20? 



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