Blue Jays: Jays center fielders 10th best in latest FanGraphs rankings
The Toronto Blue Jays center fielders are the 10th best in the league heading into the 2023 season, according to FanGraphs' center field power rankings.
If you missed it, we previously reviewed the power rankings for catcher, first base, second base, shortstop, third base and left field.
Generational talent Mike Trout and his 6.4 WAR leads the way for the Angels (6.6), while young phenom Julio Rodríguez and the Mariners (5.8) rank second.
Kevin Kiermaier, Daulton Varsho and George Springer all project to contribute to the Blue Jays' 3.8 center field WAR. Nathan Lukes and Whit Merrifield could also see time in center but don't project to provide enough value to move the needle.
Despite boasting three players with a legitimate claim to the center field role due to their elite gloves, the projections say that the Jays can't keep up with the league's best at the plate.
In his analysis of the Jays, Michael Baumann sums up their 2023 outfield as an "interesting experiment" with "a fascinating but potentially risky center field situation."
With the majority of the playing time in center, Kiermaier's projected 6.7 Fielding score eclipses both Trout and Rodríguez. However, his -6.2 score at the plate brings him back down to a projected overall WAR of 1.7.
Baumann poses the question of whether the soon-to-be 33-year-old can contribute offensively. Aside from a 101 wRC+ in 2021 and a 94 wRC+ in 2020, he points out that Kiermaier hasn’t posted a wRC+ over 90 since 2017.
The 10-year veteran has already stated that he's healthy and can contribute with his bat. Things are looking good so far this spring. In 40 at-bats, he's hitting .375 with a 1.019 OPS and has seven extra-base hits, including two triples.
If Kiermaier stays healthy and provides this type of dynamic production at the bottom of the lineup, it will go a long way toward the success of the Blue Jays' 2023 outfield experiment.
Add in Varsho and his 140 plate appearances as the center fielder and Springer occasionally moving over from right, and the Blue Jays could easily outperform their projected 10th-place rank this season.