Top 10 Right Now – Center Fielders

Center field, a spot where more guys than any other position can make a run at the top 10 just based on defense.  Granted, it’s a lot more difficult to make it simply based on those metrics, but every year there are players who accumulate a good amount of points in light of their glove work.

The Dodgers’ signing of AJ Pollock muddied the waters a bit since we were already considering both Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor – who would have ranked 10th in the statistical ranks in center.  That said, I like Bellinger the best out there and he actually came in with the highest point total between the three, so he and Pollock will be considered here with the assumption that Taylor sees more time all over the field in ’19.

A new list will be published each Monday leading up to pitchers and catchers reporting in February. The lists will highlight the Top 10 players at each position, managers and executives, finishing up with the Ultimate Top 10 list, a ranking of each of the position’s number one player.

Here’s a list of what’s to come and already been published:
Nov. 12 – Executives
Nov. 19 – Managers
Nov. 26 – Catchers
Dec. 3 – Left Fielders
Dec. 10 – First Basemen
Dec. 17 – Starting Pitchers
Dec. 24 – Designated Hitters
Dec. 31 – Third Basemen
Jan. 7 – Right Fielders
Jan. 14 – Relief Pitchers
Jan. 21 – Second Basemen
Jan. 28 – Center Fielders
Feb. 4 – Shortstops
Feb. 11 – Ultimate Top 10

Below are two lists, one (“Statistical”) shows players ranked per a combination of their 2018 stats and where they ranked in those stats per their respective position. Offensive, defensive, base running and all-inclusive stats are included in the calculations.  The second (“Adjusted”) list is based on stats but then given adjustments based on track record, injuries and projections and reflects our ranking of the players as they head into 2019.

The list in which the players appear depends mostly on where they played the most games (or innings) in 2018 but also where they project to play this coming year if substantially different than last (i.e. role player getting a more permanent position).

2018 Statistical Top 10
T-9. George Springer, Houston Astros
T-9. AJ Pollock, Los Angeles Dodgers
8. Mallex Smith, Seattle Mariners
7. Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers
6. Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
5. Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates
4. Aaron Hicks, New York Yankees
3. Ender Inciarte, Atlanta Braves
2. Lorenzo Cain, Milwaukee Brewers
1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

Adjusted Top 10
10. Keon Broxton, New York Mets
9. Mallex Smith, Seattle Mariners
8. Ender Inciarte, Atlanta Braves
7. Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates
6. Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers
5. George Springer, Houston Astros
4. Aaron Hicks, New York Yankees
3. Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
2. Lorenzo Cain, Milwaukee Brewers
1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

In consideration (with their rank from last year’s list): AJ Pollock (5), Albert Almora (10), Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Kiermaier, Harrison Bader, Ian Happ, Odubel Herrera, Victor Robles

Notes: No real decision had to be made at the top… what a pick up the Brewers made in signing Cain… there seems to be a bounce back candidate on a bunch of lists this time around and at this position it’s Charlie Blackmon.  Not that he had a poor season, but it wasn’t the level he had been in years prior… in Bellinger, Taylor and Pollock, the Dodgers now have three of the top 11 center fielders by 2018 stats.  Two of the three will surely be in consideration for different positional lists next season. Bellinger needs to make the adjustments before he’s top 5… I bet you’re surprised to see Broxton on the list!  Playing time may be a problem with Lagares ahead of him on the depth chart, but I can see the recent Mets’ acquisition either breaking out or being a complete bust – probably nothing in between.  Based on a recent interview I heard with him, I’m going with the former… Smith just had a better year than Pollock and Almora plus the Cubs’ knack for platooning hurts Almora, too… Byron Buxton doesn’t even make consideration because he’s been doing a great job of proving me right.

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