Friday, January 13, 2006

Best Center Fielder

I'll continue with the AL prediction next week.

For now, I've been pondering who are the best center fielders, defensively, that I've ever seen. The cutoff point is 1980, I don't remember too much before that. I'm thinking about how good the player was at his best, so I'll include Andruw Jones. I'm thinking of how good he was the first 2-3 years he played, instead of the so-so fielder he's been since then.

In no particular order:

Devon White
Darin Erstad
Mike Cameron
Andruw Jones
Torii Hunter
Aaron Rowand
Gary Pettis
Willie Wilson
Willie McGee
Eric Davis

I have defensive metrics for these guys. Zone rating from 1989 and 92 on, though the earlier years are less reliable. I have a somewhat decent estimation for years prior to that, sort of an adjusted zone rating that factors in a team's estimate flyball propensity and how many balls in play allowed. The error range of these methods are bigger the farther back in time I go, and are bigger than the measured differences in the players.

I'll say this, Devon White has the best ZR seasons, 1989, and the best estimated seasons, 1988 - which has only been matched by Gary Pettis 1986 of the guys I've calculated.

Going by numbers alone, White has the slight edge, but my opinion has him at #2. I don't think anyone can match Eric Davis, for the few times he was healthy in the mid to late 80's. White had more defensive value - he was an everyday defensive superstar from 1987 to 1993 before he lost a small step - and then was merely very good until the last day of his career. Davis, though, was superhuman for a few brief moments. He can't be matched for being spectacular.


At 6:54 PM, Anonymous Enemies of Bruce - The Committe For Removing Unqualified HOFers said...

I like the list and my list would look very similar to yours. However, my list would have to include Charles Lee Glenn Carr Jr. Chuckie may be hackin', but he was one of the best defensive CF I saw. It was early in the '93 inagural season and everyone knew Chuckie could fly. He ran down just about everything. (had to with Conine out there!) But on this day Chuckie, in a very spacious Florida CF, ran down a fly ball with a runner on 3rd and 1 out. The runner tagged and Chuckie nailed him at the plate. Inning ending double play. Very few baserunners tried running on Chuckie after that. In fact, I think Conine probably ended up throwing out more runners by season's end than Chuckie. But that was Chuckie's Outfield!

While I'm waxing on about the 93 Marlins, any idea why Dave Magadan didn't end up a Hall of Famer? Ok, maybe I'm exagerating, but he never struckout, knew how to take a walk and rarely swung and missed. How come he was never a full-time player? Well, maybe one or two seasons, but not more than that. Ok, so he wasn't Gold Glove material and had no power, but he could have easily ended up with 3,000 hits. At the very least he should have played more, right?

At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dwayne Murphy? I was single-digit-age when he was with the A's, so don't take my word for it, but I've seem him used as the standard for excellent CF defense as often as Devon White.

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