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Thread: Best Centerfielder in Baseball Today

  1. #1
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    Best Centerfielder in Baseball Today

    Here is an article that was sent to me by a friend. Being a centerfielder myself, i found this article very interesting. I'd love to hear some feedback...


    The ability to play first-rate center-field defense might be one of the most under-appreciated skills in baseball. Positioning, getting a good jump on the ball and quickly covering a lot of ground often can make the difference between a flyout and a two-run double. Sure, you might say, but how do we measure such things?

    While fielding metrics are still less common and less straightforward than batting stats, we now have ways of analyzing defense that go beyond errors and highlight reels. For the purposes of this essay, we will rate the best defensive center fielders from 1999 through 2001 based on three statistics: Range Factor, Zone Rating and the brand-new Win Shares system developed by noted baseball author Bill James. We'll compare all the outfielders who logged at least 1,500
    innings in center during these three years (there are 32 of them). Because the Win Shares system aggregates performance in left, center and right field, we will do the same with the other two metrics to be consistent.

    Range Factor is perhaps the best-known of these three statistics, and also is the most straightforward to calculate. It's simply (((Putouts + Assists) * 9) / Defensive Innings). Since outfielders collect many more putouts than assists, a comparison of center fielders' Range Factors basically will tell us who caught the most balls relative to their time spent in the outfield.


    Highest Range Factors Among Center Fielders -- 1999-2001
    Player, Team RF
    Torii Hunter, MIN 3.05
    Chris Singleton, CWS 3.00
    Andruw Jones, Atl 2.97
    Mike Cameron, Cin-Sea 2.84
    Darin Erstad, Ana 2.84




    While neither Twins fans nor connoisseurs of ESPN's "Web Gems" on Baseball Tonight will be surprised to find Torii Hunter at the top of the list, the second-place finish of current Orioles center fielder Chris Singleton may be a bit unexpected.

    Zone Rating -- a STATS, Inc. creation -- simply measures how often a fielder makes a play when the ball is hit into his "defensive zone." It removes the pitching staff biases inherent in Range Factor by taking each hit ball one-by-one and observing whether the fielder made the play.


    Highest Zone Ratings Among Center Fielders -- 1999-2001
    Player, Team ZR
    Darin Erstad, Ana .938
    Ruben Rivera, SD-Cin .922
    Kenny Lofton, Cle .912
    Carlos Beltran, KC .908
    Terrence Long, Oak .907




    Darin Erstad, the fifth-place finisher in Range Factor, garnered the highest Zone Rating among our 32 center fielders. However, no one else in the top five is a repeat from the Range Factor list.

    One of the biggest breakthroughs in James' Win Shares analysis, which is thoroughly explained in a book of the same title published by STATS, Inc., is his revolutionary treatment of defense. Range Factors and the like are faulty
    measurements of defensive performance, James argues in the book, because all teams record 27 putouts in each game. Players are therefore essentially competing against teammates, not against other players at their position, for high Range Factors. Starting with that assumption, and a whole lot of math later, individual fielding Win Shares are calculated for every completed season. James' Win Shares book contains a wealth of compelling and surprising conclusions, but when it comes to measuring center-field defense, the Win Shares
    system confirms what many already believe: Andruw Jones is the best there is, and there's no one particularly close.


    Most Fielding Win Shares per 1000 Innings Among Center Fielders -- 1999-2001
    Player, Team WS per 100
    Andruw Jones, Atl 6.26
    Juan Pierre, Col 5.16
    Darin Erstad, Ana 5.13
    Torii Hunter, Min 4.93
    Mike Cameron, Cin-Sea 4.92





    Erstad, Hunter, Jones and Mike Cameron repeat from the Range Factor top five. After the park adjustments that go into Win Shares, Colorado's Juan Pierre, rated 11th by Range Factor and 27th by Zone Rating, comes out looking great defensively.

    Just for fun, let's combine all three rankings together and see who comes out on top. Keep in mind that we don't endorse the following as a definitive list of the best center fielders; it's just a way to see who rates well in all three statistics.


    Combined Defensive Rankings Among Center Fielders -- 1999-2001
    Player, Team RF Rank ZR Rank WS/1000 Rank Average
    1. Darin Erstad, Ana 5 1 3 3.00
    2. Torii Hunter, Min 1 7 4 4.00
    3. Mike Cameron 4 6 5 5.00
    4. Andruw Jones, Atl 3 13 1 5.67
    5. Chris Singleton, CWS 2 9 7 6.00
    9. Ken Griffey Jr., Sea-Cin 10 15 13 12.67
    17. Jim Edmonds, Ana-StL 18 20 14 17.33
    19. Bernie Williams, NYY 16 29 10 18.33
    32. Brian Giles, Pit 32 28 31 30.33




    Erstad, the only man to make the top five according to all three metrics, heads the list. His first-place finish is especially impressive considering that he
    actually spent a little more time in left field (1537.1 innings) than he did in center (1506.0 innings) during the period of our study, and Range Factor and Win Shares totals tend to be higher for center fielders than for those who man the corners. Erstad clearly is a tremendous defensive outfielder, which makes you wonder what the Angels were thinking when they played him at first base early in
    his career.

    Ken Griffey Jr. may no longer be the cream of the crop in center, but the 10-time American League Gold Glove winner still compares well to his peers. The same is not true of Jim Edmonds or Bernie Williams, whose defensive reputations (four Gold Gloves apiece) may be misplaced praise of their prolific offense. Speaking of good offensive players, the best we can say about Brian Giles'
    defense is that he's a tremendous and underrated hitting talent. The Pirates have recognized that Giles is stretched beyond his limits in center field, and they continue to play him primarily in left.

    While it's difficult to quantify the impact of center-field defense on the scoreboard, it's probably no coincidence that the top five center fielders in our combined rankings all play for teams currently in the top half of their leagues in ERA. It's also an indication that these defensive statistics, though not widely known, can provide some insight into who you'd like to have manning center field for your team.

  2. #2

    RE: Best Centerfielder in Baseball Today

    I believed that Torii Hunter was the best centerfielder in the MLB of now. Due to your information, Torii did well in those categoties. The article that you have recieved was a very interesting outlook on centerfield.

    As a centerfielder myself, It is a hard job to me because it depends on the outcome of the game if you miss a fly ball then the game can change the favor or momentum.

    Good luck on your feedbacks on your question......


    Dylan
    "Everything happens for a reason so if it was meant to be at first then it was meant to be in the end"

  3. #3
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    RE: Best Centerfielder in Baseball Today

    Very, VERY interesting. I wonder if the original author has done something for shortstops - we have a historic number of great shortstops right now, and I'd love to see a reasoned comparison of them.

    bly11 - Oakland A's conference moderator
    the ubiquitous Bly11

  4. #4

    RE: Best Centerfielder in Baseball Today

    thats a great way to compare. i personally have to with spider-man, torii hunter. he is a naturally great fielder but has worked on his batting and now is like 4th or 5th in HR in the AL, like the opposite of tony gwynn, natural hitter but worked hard to win 5 GG.
    pb::LightSpeedOO7

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    RE: Best Centerfielder in Baseball Today

    Jim Katt: Study too long. Study wrong.
    Willie Mays: They hit and I catch it. They throw it and I hit it.

    Keep it simple. I don't know who the best centerfielder in baseball is today, but few, if any, were better than Willie or Mickey or Joseph Paul.
    Baseball articles you might not like but should read.

  6. #6

    Best Center Fielder

    There surely have been some great ones throughout history. Mantle and Mays were really good. I have a problem to say it is Erstad, as good as he might be, but look at the number of gold gloves since 96 when he came in the league. Only 2. Andruw Jones has 9 straight so far. His major fault is getting to balls that most center fielders only dream of getting to. It would be difficult of course to say who is the best. Playing the game today I would have to say Torii Hunter and Andruw Jones.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by raynman55 View Post
    There surely have been some great ones throughout history. Mantle and Mays were really good. I have a problem to say it is Erstad, as good as he might be, but look at the number of gold gloves since 96 when he came in the league. Only 2. Andruw Jones has 9 straight so far. His major fault is getting to balls that most center fielders only dream of getting to. It would be difficult of course to say who is the best. Playing the game today I would have to say Torii Hunter and Andruw Jones.
    1.) Welcome to BBF

    2.) This is like a 5 year old thread

    3.) Ichiro is the best right now

    He is leading all AL outfielders - min. 300 innings - in Range Factor. Despite playing in fewer games he is also leading the league (both leagues in fact), in TC and PO, he has 2 DP, and hasn't committed an error this season (actually he hasn't commited an error in 67 games in a row now). He's getting to just about everything, and he still has his amazing arm, which strikes enough fear into most runners, they dont even try for the next base.

  8. #8
    As a defensive player Hunter is Andruw Jones's equal, but Andruw is by far the best hitting centerfield. He shows a huge display of power unlike most centerfielders today.

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    I choose the all-out going, tough, little guy Ryan Freel or the amazing Josh Hamilton. The way they play is just amazing and when Freel, Hamilton, Hopper, and Griffey play (choose 3, plus they all can play CF), it's the best defensive outfield in baseball.
    Last edited by redlegsfan21; 05-28-2007 at 07:39 PM.
    Unlike most other team sports, in which teams usually have an equivalent number of players on the field at any given time, in baseball the hitting team is at a numerical disadvantage, with a maximum of 5 players and 2 base coaches on the field at any time, compared to the fielding team's 9 players. For this reason, leaving the dugout to join a fight is generally considered acceptable in that it results in numerical equivalence on the field, and a fairer fight.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MDog795 View Post
    As a defensive player Hunter is Andruw Jones's equal, but Andruw is by far the best hitting centerfield. He shows a huge display of power unlike most centerfielders today.
    This article might make a few people reconsider that opinion!

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2880979
    Touching from a distance, further all the time...
    25th May 1967
    1907... 1908... errr... thats it...

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    Grady Sizemore

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