10. Billy Hamilton, Cincinatti Reds (.253 BA, 6 HR, 47 RBI)
The NL Rookie of the Year for 2014 finds himself on my inaugural top 10 list for center fielders after hitting .250. Hamilton is more known for his defense and speed though, as his 56 stolen bases signifies. He also only committed 2 errors last season and had 10 outfield assists. If Hamilton could bring his average up a little and maybe get a little stronger, this guy could be a real stud in the league.
9. Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals (.284 BA, 6 HR, 60 RBI)
Cain’s numbers last season don’t exemplify what most people think of a 3 hitter. He finished the year batting .301, but he only hit 5 homers and only contributed 53 RBI for the Royals. However, 3rd in the lineup is exactly where he hit for the end of the year, leading the Royals to a World Series appearance. Known for his glove and speed more than his bat, Cain finally showed his potential in 2014. The Kansas City faithful hope he keeps shining brighter this season as the AL Central competition has only got tougher.
8. Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins (.268 BA, 19 HR, 79 RBI)
After playing in only 70 games in 2013, Ozuna finished the 2014 year being part of 153 games. He hit .269 while adding 23 homers and 85 RBI. This guy is an up-and-coming stud as he is only 23. After the gargantuan contract Giancarlo Stanton signed this offseason, the Marlins have themselves a very good outfielding duo.
7. Jacoby Ellsbury, New York Yankees (.279 BA, 13 HR, 60 RBI)
By regular people’s standards, Ellsbury had a good year last year. But after batting .298 in the 2013 Boston Red Sox World Series campaign, his average dropped to .271 in 2014 in his first season with the Yankees. I’m curious to see if Ellsbury performs better this year now that he’s gotten used to playing in front of the die-hard Yankee faithful. The short porch in right at Yankee Stadium should help his home run numbers, also.
6. Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies (.293 BA, 17 HR, 64 RBI)
In his first season as an every day starter, Blackmon earned a spot on the all-star team finishing the 2014 season with a .288 average, 19 homers and 72 RBI. The Rockies have a very good outfield group with Blackmon, Dickerson, and Carlos Gonzalez. Coors Field is a launching pad, and the Rockies finished the 2014 season ranked 3rd in runs, 2nd in batting average, 4th in on-base percentage, and 1st in slugging percentage. The weak part of the team was the pitching ranking dead last in team ERA and WHIP.
5. Matt Kemp, San Diego Padres (.286 BA, 22 HR, 80 RBI)
When healthy, Kemp is as dangerous a hitter as anyone in the league. Unfortunately for the Dodgers the past few seasons, Kemp has been quite injury prone. The Padres hope he can stay healthy for a full season to bolster their playoff hopes in the NL West alongside new additions of Wil Myers and Justin Upton.
4. Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers (.282 BA, 23 HR, 71 RBI)
Gomez never really blossomed until 2012 when he hit .260 and blasted 19 homers. He continued that success in 2013 and 2014, being selected to the NL all-star team both years while hitting a combined 47 homers over that time. He also added a Gold Glove to his awards list in 2013.
3. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles (.284 BA, 29 HR, 93 RBI)
Jones has made the all-star team 4 times, has won 4 Gold Gloves and won a Silver Slugger in 2014. He has been a consistent hitter for many years and I don’t see the Orioles center fielder slowing down any time soon as he is only 28 years old.
2. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates (.316 BA, 24 HR, 85 RBI)
After being the key bat that helped take Pittsburgh to back to back playoff appearances, the speedy and powerful NL MVP contender for the 2015 season finds himself at number 2 on this year’s center field rankings. Alongside young guns, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco, the Pirates have a very good young outfield core to build around for years to come.
1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (.303 BA, 32 HR, 101 RBI)
Mike Trout has arguably been the not only the best center fielder, but the best player in baseball for the past 3 seasons. He won his first MVP award in 2014, and he probably could have won the award with great seasons in 2012 and 2013. The definition of a 5 tool player, Trout was an easy pick to put at number 1 on this list.