BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com senior blogger
Some may think of left field as that position where a youth baseball coach would hide his worst player. In Major League Baseball, it’s quite the contrary, In fact, many former center fielders, who had a younger player with a tad more defensive skills bump them out of their former positions, will usually move just one spot left. It also seems like a lot of the games top power hitters call left field their home. We’ll look at both cases in today’s blog of the top 10 left fielders in the game today:
10. Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins (.260 BA, 35 HR, 110 RBI, 2.9 WAR) – One of the most underrated power hitters in baseball.
9. David Murphy, Texas Rangers (.304 BA, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 10 SB, 3.2 WAR) – One of the most underrated players in baseball.
8. Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics (.292 BA, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 16 SB, 3.4 WAR) – Great rookie season from the defected Cuban, expect more in 2013.
7. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies (.303 BA, 22 HR, 85 RBI, 20 SB, 1.3 WAR) – Big platoon split due to Coors Field.
6. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals (.294 BA, 14 HR, 72 RBI, 10 SB, 6.2 WAR) – Excellent defensive fielder with an improved bat.
5. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals (.295 BA, 27 HR, 102 RBI, 3.8 WAR)
Holliday is one of the great sure things in baseball. Consistently reliable slugger who drives in runs and generally does things well. One of the things he doesn’t do well is defend, or really have great range, at least not anymore. Regardless, he’ll be a big factor the Cardinals yet again.
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.
Outfield has always been a crucial position in fantasy baseball leagues. From the outfield spot you can grab some of the best players in the league. When analyzing just right fielders, there are several big name players who may be selected ahead of projections because many of them are entering their prime, or due to potential. Here’s a look at my top right fielders this fantasy season.
Right fielders just outside of my top five stack up as the following: Alex Rios, CWS, Carlos Beltran, STL, Nelson Cruz, TEX, Ben Zobrist, TAM, Nick Markakis, BAL, Nick Swisher, CLE.
5. Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds (.252 BA, 34 HR, 99 RBI, 1.4 WAR)
If the right field class wasn’t so stacked, Bruce would be higher up.The 6-foot-3 lefty oozes potential. He’s hit at least 25 home runs since entering the league in 2010, with 34 last year. He knocked in 99 RBIs last year, and should improve on that. As he enters his prime, Bruce will be a 40 home run candidate, and a sleeper to lead the league in home runs. Be careful though, he’s a .255 career hitter who strikes out a lot and walks very little. Also, his career high in steals is just nine.