NL Central Smackdown : Center Field


I'm jumping to center field because it's a bit of a mess and not nearly as interesting as left or right, which I'd like to save at least one of those for Monday.

Player 3-Year Warp-3 Average
3 Year Warp-3 Projection
Rob's Ranking
0.8 (1 year) 3.83 5
3.13 1.6 5
5.4 3.03 3
2.1 (1 year) 3.37 1
Colby Rasmus N/A 4.57 3
2.77 2.5 4
Jay Bruce N/A 4.93 4
1.2 (1 year) 1.37 6
1.77 2.77 2









The Justification: This sure is a tough one. There's only one established player in the group in Mike Cameron and he's on the downside of his career. Ankiel causes some problems because he'll likely be moving back to right field as soon as the Cardinals deem Colby Rasmus ready. The Reds are currently employing a mess of players between Korey, Ryan Freel and Jerry Hairston Jr., although they probably have the best player of the group in Jay Bruce waiting in the minors, one of the top prospects in all of baseball.

But here's how I broke it down...

I gave Ankiel the top spot for now because, well, that's where he's playing. He's got the best arm out of the bunch, seems to be able to cover the ground and will at least hit for power. The Pirates seemed to have settled on McLouth and he's rewarding them with some incredible early season numbers. Cameron can still go get them in the outfield and will hit for enough power that I give him the nod over the Cubs and Reds situations. If it was just Jay Bruce, I'd probably have him at least at the three spot if not higher, but we all know about the manager there and who knows when he'll get his shot. Their current Frankstein-CFer would probably battle for the last spot with Michael Bourn. As for the Cubs, the Johnson/Pie combo gets the five spot from me right now,and that could end up swinging to the last spot or the top spot depending on how things break.

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Wow, I think you're way off on this one, Rob. If you're talking offense only, maybe I'd be more in line, but Cameron is definitely the best CF in the division. Cameron, McLouth, Ankiel, Bourn, Reds, Pie/Johnson

Michael Bourn over Pie/Johnson? I'd have to disagree with you there. Also, I'd agree with Rob G. that Cameron is on the downside of his career and belongs behind Ankiel (who's upside is the deciding factor in making him most valuable) and McLouth. I can't consider Jay Bruce until he plays some major league games--I've heard he's likely to end up in RF anyway. I'm not sure I'd agree with the Reds situation over Pie/Johnson either. Corey right now is outproducing Pie, but I think Pie's bat will come around and while their range is comparable I think Pie's arm is stronger. Johnson compares nicely to Freel, and I think Johnsons CF defense is underrated and Freel's is overrated. Ankiel and Pie make for interesting examples of how AAA numbers can be misleading, though. Pie showed acceptable plate discipline and an impressive ability to hit for average in AAA, then came up to the majors and could do neither at all. Ankiel showed prodigious power but weak batting average and obp skills in AAA last year, but made it to the majors and improved his walk and contact rates and saw his power diminish a bit. Maybe we shouldn't try to project much from minor league numbers.

Rob, I agree with almost all your rankings, and this position is a mess. However, ranking Corey Patterson and his .202 average ahead of anyone right now, that is pure craziness. He is #6 for sure. Can't give anything to Bruce until he actually plays. I had them like this: Cameron (still a good CF) McClouth (keeps it up though and he is #1) Ankiel (probably ticketed for a corner) Bourne (nice young player, boy is he fast) Cubs (though Johnson/Pie will get us by) Corey (and not just Cub bias)