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Total Run Index: Center Fielders

“Put me in coach, I’m ready to play today. Put me in coach, I’m ready to play today. Look at me I can be center field.” — John Fogerty

Center field might be the premium defensive position on the diamond (along with shortstop), so the offensive numbers in center field might not quite be as good as the numbers on the corners. Still, there are a few gems in the group that some might overlook on draft day.

Most prognosticators will throw all outfielders together and I’ll probably do that for myself on draft day, but here we are looking at those that will play a majority of their games in center field. There will be some that will be eligible at other spots in the outfield and since a lot of leagues don’t differentiate between outfield positions, it is more of an academic question.

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Alejandro De Aza




Michael Bourn




Shin Soo Choo




Coco Crisp




David Dejesus




Adam Eaton




Jacoby Ellsbury




Dexter Fowler




Curtis Granderson




Austin Jackson




Jon Jay




Desmond Jennings




Adam Jones




Matt Kemp




Justin Maxwell




Cameron Maybin




Andrew McCutchen




Angel Pagan




Justin Ruggiano




Denard Span




Alejandro De Aza– Chicago White Sox

The White Sox rearranged their outfield last year to great success. Alex Rios was in center field and turned in one of the worst performances in recent memory. He turned around his fortunes in right field while Aza performed ably in center. Last season was his first full season in the big leagues, so it will be interesting to see how he responds.

Michael Bourn– Cleveland Indians

Bourn has always been enigmatic as a fantasy player anyway and now he is going to a pitcher’s park. He has always been built around speed, but the question is how many bases he will be allowed to steal now that he is in the junior circuit.

Shin-Soo Choo– Cincinnati Reds

I’m pretty bullish on Choo offensively. He is leaving Cleveland for a better hitter’s park in Cincinnati and a better overall offense as well. The problem for him will come defensively. He hasn’t played center with any regularity and showed issues making it in right field. One season shouldn’t hurt him too much though.

Coco Crisp– Oakland Athletics

It’s funny to see what happens when you have two similar players. Bourn and Crisp are very similar offensively, but one is considered a borderline all-star while the other struggles to get regular playing time. Chris Young may steal some of his plate appearances, so he may go undrafted in some leagues.

David Dejesus– Chicago Cubs

He is one of the guys moving positions this year. He spent most of his time in right field last season, but he has played center field in the past. Brett Jackson will eventually get another opportunity to play, but he will have to cut down on his strikeouts in the minors for now. Look for Dejesus to be trade bait around the trade deadline.

Adam Eaton– Arizona Diamondbacks

Eaton will get the first crack at center field, but the Dbacks still have a lot of depth in the outfield. Gerardo Parra and Cody Ross can play center field in a pinch, so he will have to get off to a good start. Still, he has tons of talent and could be a very good selection later on in the draft.

Jacoby Ellsbury– Boston Red Sox

When you suffer through the kind of season that Ellsbury did last season it is easy to doubt whether he should be an elite player. In reality, he has had only one truly elite season, so I’m not inclined to put him in the top ten to fifteen outfielders even though he may end up there at the end of the day.

Dexter Fowler– Colorado Rockies

Fowler is one of those players that should probably be a part of a platoon. Overall he is a good fantasy player, but he vacillates between a great player (at home) and average to below average (on the road). You usually don’t want to dedicate a pick in the first ten rounds to someone that should only play half of the time, but maybe he is an exception.

Curtis Granderson– New York Yankees

Like Fowler, he is a guy that does really well at home, but Granderson is not the dominant force that he was in years past. His speed is nearly gone, so he is really only valuable for the 30+ home run power he brings to the table. That it is rare, but not as rare as it used to be.

Austin Jackson– Detroit Tigers

Jackson took a huge step forward last year, but at this point in his career it is impossible to know whether it was the first step towards an all-star level career or whether it was a career season. I would proceed with caution myself until we know for sure.

Jon Jay– St. Louis Cardinals

Jay certainly is spry for a former Supreme Court justice. In all seriousness, he isn’t a stud, but he is a nice guy to have if you are going to employ one of those platoons like I talked about in the platoon advantage. He won’t give you any category exclusively, but a little bit of everything.

Desmond Jennings– Tampa Bay Rays

Jennings is moving from left field to center field and will be counted on to be a table setter for the new Rays lineup. Last year was a bit of a disappointment for him, but he should grow as a hitter in his second full season. How much growth is the question.

Adam Jones– Baltimore Orioles

Some people seem to think Jones is a Gold Glove fielder. Nothing could be further from the truth, but he did seem to evolve offensively last year and that is reflected in his TRI. Will he continue to produce on that level or will he take a step back to the pack.

Matt Kemp– Los Angeles Dodgers

It’s funny how someone on an eight year 160 million dollar contract can be overlooked, but that is the state of the Dodgers these days. If you forget about him then he will bury you. All he needs to do is put together another healthy season and he will be a top ten overall fantasy performer.

Justin Maxwell– Houston Astros

No contending team would ever play a guy like Maxwell regularly, but the Astros aren’t exactly a contending team. He will give you twenty home runs and twenty stolen bases at least as long as he is healthy. He’ll also give you a ton of strikeouts.

Cameron Maybin– San Diego Padres

I was one of those that bought into Maybin taking the next step last season. It didn’t happen, but it doesn’t mean that it will never happen. Maybin has the skills to be a superstar, but sometimes it takes some guys a little longer than others.

Andrew McCutchen– Pittsburgh Pirates

He should be a top five or six overall selection this year if people are paying attention. If you are sitting at the end of the first round and he is still on the board you should think your lucky stars and take him. He may not be the dynamic force that Mike Trout is, but he’s darn close.

Angel Pagan– San Francisco Giants

Brian Sabean made a mistake when he traded a solid middle reliever and decent center fielder for Pagan and those two players are back with the Giants. Meanwhile, Pagan turned in a career season. Lightening doesn’t strike twice folks. At least it doesn’t in the same place.

Justin Ruggiano– Miami Marlins

Speaking of lightening, Ruggiano went from the very definition of AAAA to one of the stories of the year. Like most AAAA guys, Ruggiano produced huge numbers in AAA, so his performance last season wasn’t completely shocking. Still, it won’t be completely shocking for him to revert right back to the marginal player he was before.

Denard Span– Washington Nationals

On the one hand, he is leaving a second division team to perhaps the best team in the National League. On the other hand, Washington isn’t the easiest place to hit. I think the first factor will override the second and he will be one of the better unsung fantasy players in 2013.


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