Kansas City Royals: Lorenzo Cain. 2015 All-Star, 3rd in MVP voting and 4th in WAR (7.2 bWAR). Cain is elite defensively and offensively. He posted a .307 .361 .477 line last year and amassed 18 DRS
Detroit Tigers: It’s looking like they will platoon Anthony Gose vs righties and Cameron Maybin against lefties. Maybin had a .697 OPS, 0.6 WAR and -16 DRS in 2015. Gose had a .688 OPS, 0.7 WAR and -12 DRS. Both had down years defensively and should rebound somewhat. Offensively, their 2015’s were roughly even with their career averages.
Cleveland Indians: Rajai Davis? Perhaps Tyler Naquin? Naquin’s had by far the better spring but has never played a major league game. Davis has a long track record in the Majors but he is ageing, his defense fluctuates and he’s rarely been trusted as a full time centre fielder in his career. Davis put together a solid season in 2015 with a .746 OPS, 1.6 WAR and 6 DRS (in CF)
Chicago White Sox: Up until recently, the White Sox did not have a viable centre field option. They got lucky as Austin Jackson was a victim of an extremely buyer friendly outfielder market. Though just 28, he’s been declining since posting All Star numbers early in his career. Lately he’s been a capable defender and a decent bat. In 2015: .696 OPS, 1.6 WAR and -1 DRS.
Our ranking of the AL Central at Center Field:
- Royals – Cain propels the Royals roughly a nautical mile ahead of the other 4 teams
- Twins – Buxton’s defence and the weakness of the lower three clubs at the position put the Twins in 2nd place. The Twins will challenge for first in this category soon if Buxton reaches his offensive potential
- White Sox – Jackson might very well match or exceed Buxton’s offense this season but Jackson doesn’t compare defensively to Buxton anymore.
- Indians – Cleveland gets the edge over Detroit here because they have a number of options who could replace Davis or Naquin if need be. None of them are particularly good options but available nonetheless.
- Tigers – Gose and Maybin are comparable to Davis/Naquin but the deciding factor is that the Tigers have no other viable options. If Gose or Maybin are out for extended period of time, Detroit might risk being the worst MLB team in center.
The AL Central might be baseball’s worst division at centre field. Aside from the Royals, the other four clubs have significant questions at the position (the Tigers and Indians have very serious questions). The Twins have questions but they shouldn’t really have concerns. Buxton provides the Twins with excellent defensive value up the middle. His presence will allow the Twins to effectively carry more offensive heft elsewhere on the field: e.g, the big man in right field.