Like shortstops are to the infield, center fielders are the captains of the outfield. Players in the middle of the deep grass have a special skill set like no other spot in baseball. Usually, they have the best wheels, an uncanny defensive ability and an above average arm. Centerfield calls for some of the best players in the game.
This season there is no lack of talent in the middle of the outfield. While some of the older players have moved to corner outfield positions, it seems like a new generation is trying to make its name in centerfield. Mike Trout was a prime example last season and trust me, he’ll be high on this rankings list. But there still is a few unknowns, so here is Couch Side’s official top 10 center fielder of 2013:
10. Chris Young, Oakland Athletics (.231 BA, 14 HR, 41 RBI, 1.9 WAR): This could be the worst pick I’ve made while doing these fantasy baseball rankings, but Chris Young still shows some serious potential. The new change of atmosphere could benefit the 29-year-old as he should see a lot of at bats. Although Coco Crisp will be in this lineup, Oakland likes to shake things up a lot and I think Young will find a promising role this year.
9. Denard Span, Washington Nationals (.283 BA, 4 HR, 41 RBI, 17 SB, 4.8 WAR): I was extremely surprised that Span wound up with the Washington Nationals. However, it just may produce a career year for the 29-year-old as he still proves to be one of the best center fielders in the game. He is a perfect lead off hitter and the bottom of the Nats’ lineup is so good that he could score a lot of runs.
8. B.J. Upton, Atlanta Braves (.246 BA, 28 HR, 78 RBI, 31 SB, 17, 2.6 WAR): There’s a huge reason Upton earned an enormous contract with the Braves this offseason. Although he stikes out a lot, Upton is one of the best center fielders in the game because of his uncanny power, incredible defense and surprising speed.
7. Dexter Fowler, Colorado Rockies (.300 BA, 13 HR, 53 RBI, 2.6 WAR): It’s weird that Fowler isn’t a speedster, but he definately makes up for it in plenty of other areas. Last season, the 26-year-old set career highs in RBIs and home runs. If he cant repeat that performance this season, Fowler may make next year’s top five. Obviously, Colorado believes in that after giving Fowler a contract extentison in one of their very few moves this offseason.
6. Adam Jones, Colorado Rockies (.287 BA, 32 HR, 82 RBI, 3.4 WAR): By far, Jones had a career year last season. Don’t let that cloud judgements, though. One-year-wonders usually don’t last when it comes to fantasy baseball. Sure, he was a great player last season, but it was probably the first time he was more than a waiver wire pickup.
5. Michael Bourn, Cleveland Indians (.274 BA, 9 HR, 57 RBI, 42 SB, 6.0 WAR)
Many might think Bourn is the fastest center fielder in the game, but then came along Mike Trout. This 30-year-old is showing signs of his age. Yet, he set a career high in homeruns last year. Bourn’s power seems to be improving. He also always seems to get better on new teams. The Indians will be his fourth, so the potential for more career seasons could be waiting for Bourn. Plus, that speed is definitely still there.
BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com writer
What are the odds of Shane Doan being recognized if he walked into any random supermarket around Phoenix at any point between 1996 and 2011? I’m not sure, he’s a big guy, but you could find plenty of 6-foot-2, 220-pound bros at your local gym. If you lined him up with Luis Gonzalez, Steve Nash, and Larry Fitzgerald, who do you think an average Arizona sports fan would gravitate to first?
Maybe at this point his popularity has increased incrementally, but over the past 15 years, given the amount of coverage the Phoenix Coyotes have received, I doubt Arizona fans have given Doan his proper due.
He’s the longest tenured professional athlete in Arizona sports today, and a last remaining member of the original Winnipeg Jets when they moved to downtown Phoenix in 1996, but I’m wondering how much he’s really appreciated overall. To give his time here some perspective, there are no current Expos with the Washington Nationals, and it’s been around seven years since that franchise moved from Montreal. You seldom get players to stick around in the same city for an extended period of time, and Doan has done it with the least popular franchise in Arizona.
How overshadowed has Doan been? Let’s think about the other three sports teams in Phoenix.
BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com writer
The 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks were one of my favorite individual teams ever to track and follow throughout the season; they provided everything you wanted out of an upstart, surprise team. There was an equal share of surprise pitching performances (Ian Kennedy), an emerging star coming into his own (Justin Upton), a fan favorite with a unique perk (“Tatman” Ryan Roberts) and a bullpen that saw significant improvement from the previous year. Their torrid streak starting somewhere in mid-May, along with some lucky breaks in the division (Rockies giving up on Ubaldo, Buster Posey breaking his ankle, and the Dodgers being financially incompetent) allowed for one hell of a ride. Of course, as many remember, it all came to an end in game 5 of the NLDS in Milwaukee as Njyer Morgan lined a J.J. Putz fastball up the middle, and thus a run at the World Series title was over.
This offseason, general manager Kevin Towers decided not to rest on his laurels and continue to improve an already good team in an attempt to make them great. Did he succeed in this? Let’s examine his most significant moves. (more…)
BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com contributor
As part of The Couch Side’s MLB positional power rankings, we turn to Centerfield, arguably one of the more important positions in the game.
But first, here is my 10-6 to build anticipation
Now onto the cream of the crop, the five best centerfielders in the game right now.
The Braves leadoff hitter split time between Houston and Atlanta last season, and he still led the NL in stolen bases with 61. He’s a fantasy goldmine, simply put. He has two gold gloves in his short career, and rates favorably with his defense. What is he expected to achieve this year? The projection model ZiPS has him hitting .270 with 97 runs scored, and 56 stolen bases. I’ll take that, you’ll take that, and we’ll all take that.
This was a tricky one; Ellsbury in 2011 had a near MVP season at the dish, only to have his teammates do their best to sabotage those efforts, which they did. Assuming the Red Sox won’t self destruct with a montage of alcoholic behavior, and unhealthy food choices, they’ll be back in the postseason, and so will the 4th best centerfielder in baseball. Jacoby had a herculean spike in power last year. The HR totals from his first four healthy seasons look like this,
That’s pretty remarkable, almost Jose Bautista-like. The question of whether or not he has a season close to that production remains to be seen, but it would be hard to believe that his peripherals would enable him to improve on such a feat.