2012 MLB Offseason: Rating the Top 15 Center Fielders According to TPR

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2012 MLB  Offseason: Rating the Top 15 Center Fielders According to TPR
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Kemp should be getting more hardware soon.

We are coming close to the end of TPR for the position players. Since we will not be looking at designated hitters separately, we will be stopping with right fielders. We are looking at the top fifteen guys and then the bottom three as well. 

A few things have come up along the way, so I thought I would answer some general questions. Some have asked why certain players have not made it. Those listed are based on their combined run counts from fielding, hitting and base-running stats.

Sometimes, players that are obviously top 10 players have subpar years. They may be left off the list. That doesn't mean they won't rebound.

 

15. Dexter Fowler, Colorado Rockies

Fielding: -9.7

Hitting: 20.0

Base Runner: 14.1

Total Player Rating: 24.4

Keep in mind that we are comparing players to the average. This doesn't mean that Fowler is a bad defender.

It just means there are a lot of really good ones in center field. That being said, he is starting to blossom into a very good player.

 

14. Denard Span, Minnesota Twins

Fielding: 30.8

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Losing Span to injury was just one of the many problems for the Twins.

Hitting: -5.4

Base Running: 6.6

Total Player Rating: 32.0

Span is better than this, but not by much. He got out a lot of his season in spite of the fact that he missed a bunch of time.

Ben Revere was okay in his stead, but obviously the drop-off was just one of the reasons why the Twins struggled.

 

13. Nyjer Morgan, Milwaukee Brewers

Fielding: 11.7

Hitting: 20.1

Base Running: 9.1

Total Player Rating: 40.9

The Brewers are in a good situation in center field. Carlos Gomez was also a positive-impact performer overall, so if Morgan comes back to career norms they have options. Morgan has never been a positive-impact offensive player, so regression is almost a certainty. 

 

12. B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay Rays

Fielding: 3.1

Hitting: 36.4

J. Meric/Getty Images
Upton will be this offseason's Carmel San Diego.

Base Running: 2.6

Total Player Rating: 42.1

Upton is almost certain to have a new address next year. Washington seems like a good fit from this vantage point, but you never know.

The team that gets him will have to accept a low batting average, but batting average is very overrated. 

 

11. Chris Young, Arizona Diamondbacks

Fielding: 25.1

Hitting: 13.1

Base Running: 8.9

Total Player Rating: 47.1

Geologists talk about weathering. It is the process where rock is broken down by wind, water and time. It isn't impressive in any one snapshot, but when you step back and look, you are overwhelmed.

The same is true of players like Young. He is solid at every facet of the game. Add it all up and you get a very good player.

 

10. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles

Fielding: 7.1

Hitting: 34.3

Dave Reginek/Getty Images
Jones was one of the few bright spots in Baltimore.

Base Running: 8.6

Total Player Rating: 50.0

Those that followed my fielding series will note that Jones rated as a below-average fielder. We removed Fielding Bible data, which hurt him significantly in those ratings. Otherwise, he is an excellent center fielder.

 

9. Cameron Maybin, San Diego Padres

Fielding: 20.3

Hitting: 14.0

Base Running: 16.5

Total Player Rating: 50.8

GMs around the league take a look at Maybin and say, "I wish I had one of those."

He appears ready to blossom offensively. We should keep in mind that a part of his positive offensive rating has a considerable degree of difficulty added.

 

8. Alejandro De Aza, Chicago White Sox

Fielding: 16.2

Hitting: 35.0

Base Running: 2.6

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
De Aza will be the regular center fielder in 2012.

Total Player Rating: 53.8

The bad news is that it is very unlikely that De Aza will be this good in 2012. The good news is that he doesn't have to be.

The White Sox could be the turnaround team in 2012 based on the fact that they had three of the worst performers in baseball in 2011.

Juan Pierre and Alex Rios are either going to be gone or relegated to the bench. If Adam Dunn has a comeback season, they should win the AL Central.

 

7. Michael Bourn, Atlanta Braves

Fielding: 13.7

Hitting: 20.3

Base Running: 20.9

Total Player Rating: 54.9

Bourn has been up and down at the plate, but you will always get defense and baserunning from him. In fact, he should do better defensively next year. That might be enough to offset any drop-off he has at the plate.

 

6. Peter Bourjos, Los Angeles Angels

Fielding: 13.9

Hitting: 33.1

Base Running: 17.8

Jeff Golden/Getty Images
Bourjos is just one of many solid regulars for the Angels.

Total Player Rating: 64.2

Bourjos was hurt by the removal of Fielding Bible data. Include it and he becomes either the best or second-best defensive center fielder in baseball.

His bat surprised and his speed is a bonus on the basepaths as well. Trout shouldn't bump him from the lineup.

 

5. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

Fielding: 19.9

Hitting: 71.6

Base Running: -0.2

Total Player Rating: 91.3

There is definitely a separation between the top five guys and the rest of the league. McCutchen is beginning to come into his own. If he played anywhere else he'd be a big-time star.

 

4. Shane Victorino, Philadelphia Phillies

Fielding: 15.9

Hitting: 68.3

Base Running: 13.6

Total Player Rating: 97.8

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Victorino is quickly becoming my favorite player.

You want to talk about weathering? Victorino might be my favorite player as far as this is concerned.

No one thinks of him as a star. They don't even think of him that way in Philadelphia. Yet, he just might be their best player.

 

3. Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees

Fielding: -20.4

Hitting: 110.6

Base Running: 14.7

Total Player Rating: 104.9

Yankees fans have already given me the business for rating him as a below-average fielder. They cite plays he made in the playoffs.

The key to any good analysis is sample size. ML players can make great plays. That's why they are in the big leagues. The key is how often they are able to make them.

 

2. Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox

Fielding: 30.3

Hitting: 137.2

Base Running: 6.4

Total Player Rating: 173.9

Rob Carr/Getty Images
Ellsbury is one of the most exciting players in baseball.

He was the comeback player of the year. That might have been overstated since he only missed 2010 due to injuries, but he was a great player in 2011.

He will likely finish No. 2 in the MVP race to Jose Bautista.

 

1. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers

Fielding: -5.7

Hitting: 179.9

Base Running: 13.5

Total Player Rating: 187.7

If you haven't been able to figure it out yet, I hate Gold Glove awards. The coaches just don't get it right.

However, there is no denying how dominating Kemp was in 2011, and the writers will get it wrong if they pick anyone else for the NL MVP.

 

Bottom Feeders

Franklin Gutierrez, Seattle Mariners

Fielding: 23.1

Hitting: -57.6

Base Running: 1.5

Total Player Rating: -33.0

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Guitierrez should bounce back some in 2012.

In all fairness, Alex Rios was far worse in Chicago, but he was officially replaced during the season.

Gutierrez is a microcosm of the Mariners lineup. He is a great fielder, runs the bases well and was a terrible hitter. A lineup full of them makes for a lot of low-scoring games.

 

Colby Rasmus, Toronto Blue Jays

Fielding: -10.5

Hitting: -20.9

Base Running: 1.7

Total Player Rating: -29.7

It wasn't so much that Jon Jay was brilliant, but that Rasmus was leaking runs left and right. It is no coincidence that the Cardinals started to surge once he was traded.

Some called him a clubhouse cancer. I just say he had an awful season.

 

Angel Pagan, New York Mets

Fielding: -31.9

Hitting: -3.6

Base Running: 9.3

Total Player Rating: -26.2

Pagan is an example of what happens when you make too many assumptions on small sample sizes.

Pagan had served ably as a fourth outfielder, so the Mets thought he was ready to be their everyday center fielder. That would be a big fat no.

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