Feb 24, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays
Yes I spell it the Canadian way. Despite what the grammar police tell me from ‘merica. This is going to be a dogfight for position this is. There is some mighty fine talent in the AL East at centre. If you want to talk pure talent it may be the best position covered so far. I am hoping this might rile a few more people up. When you are talking this subjectively there are bound to be a few bruised egos…like my buddy who is a Red Sox fan. You may not like what you re about to read. Bring on the Centre Fielders brought to you in alphabetical order by team city!
Probable Starting Centre Fielders
Baltimore Orioles: Adam Jones
The way Adam Jones has developed I bet his original team in Seattle would love to have him back. He has simply put his name among the best centre fielders in baseball. 3 Gold Gloves and 3 Silver Slugger awards will do that. He seems to get a little better every year and at 29 is entering the prime of his career. He can steal you a dozen or so bases, hit 25+ homers, drive in 90 and score 100. If he could cut down on his strikeouts and at times inconsistent play he could be top of the heap.
Jones’ defense is stellar. He is quick, takes good routes to the ball and has a stronger arm than one would think. He has a swagger and confidence that are very evident when you watch him in the field. He gets a couple more errors than you would think but mostly because he sets a high standard for what he does with the glove…at least that’s what the voters for Gold Gloves seem to think.
Boston Red Sox: Grady Sizemore
This will be one of the bigger shocks a to who is making the 25 man rosters around the majors. I never thought I would see the day. Sizemore hasn’t played since 2011. He has had so many surgeries I would have to write a whole other article just about his injuries. Many thought he was done. This spring he is playing with ease and is reminding the baseball world that at one point he was perhaps one of the top five players in baseball at age 25. He literally excelled in all facets of the game. An annual 30/30 threat with a OPS averaging around .900.
Defensively he was one of the best. He has two Gold Gloves to show off and he has made some great plays in the field this spring. It all comes down to his health. If he is truly back and able to play the way he did then no question we are seeing a truly great story unraveling in Boston this season…and the return of a truly great player.
New York Yankees: Jacoby Ellsbury
If you want a slightly puzzling bug buck signing look at this one. Don’t get me wrong. Ellsbury is a great player. He has speed to burn having led the AL in stolen bases 3 different times. He hit 32 homers in 2011 but never more than 9 in any other season. he hit 46 doubles that same season but never more than the 31 he hit last season. See what I am saying? You don’t really know exactly what he is going to give you. Each season he does one great thing or maybe two but never across the board of this potential 5 tool player. Being 30 it is doubtful he will ever reach that career year of 2011.
In over 5200 innings with the Red Sox he has had 8 errors total…8! There is a reason he also has a Gold Glove in his arsenal. Speed to burn allowed him to cover that wackiness that is Fenway Park centre field. He is another who gets a great jump on the ball and can pretty much catch anything hit within his great range. Exceptional outfielder.
Tampa Bay Rays: Desmond Jennings
This was the prospect that the Rays touted so much that they let Carl Crawford leave town (well that and the ridiculous contract he received). Most in the Rays front office and some scouts around baseball saw Jennings as the second coming of Crawford. He does have the speed and he is improving with the bat but he is still a work in progress. He strikes out a tad too much and with low walk totals it shows he is a contact hitter who has the potential to steal 40, hit 15 homers and score 100 runs. Unfortunately it is still just that…potential.
He has the speed necessary to play centre in the bigs. In close to 2900 innings he has three errors and all were caused last year. Is this reason for concern or just a blip in the radar that is centre fielding…ummm…ya. There is no denying that he is getting better every year.
Toronto Blue Jays: Colby Rasmus
And now for the ultimate wild card. Rasmus has the tools to be just as good as the afore mentioned centre fielders. First-round pedigree by the strong player development squad that is the St. Louis Cardinals. A trade to Toronto brought the potential that was yet to be realized. He got better year after year then at age 26 we started to see a man finally able to harness his skills for good. He hit for power and got on-base at an average clip. If he cuts down on his strikeouts he will have the kind of year deserving of. He has the potential to hit 25+ homers, 90 RBI, 20 stolen bases and slug around .500. Pretty good outlook.
On defense Rasmus shines. He makes the plays and has tremendous speed and range in centre…he made 1 error last season. Some argue he may have been better than Gold Glover Jones. Actually if you compare both of their 2013 years you might be surprised to find Rasmus matched or bettered Jones in defensive metrics and many offensive categories.
And the Medalists are:
There could be a strong case that each of these guys could be on top for various reasons but taking into account ALL aspects of their careers I see it as: Jones, Ellsbury, Rasmus, Jennings and Sizemore. If Sizemore plays as he used to before missing two years then he slips right on top of this pile. The only reason he is last is the fact he is a total wild card and his health will be a big question heading into the season. Time to roast the man….that’s me. Comment below.