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Top 10 Best Center Fielders of All Time

“Strong up the middle” is a common baseball phrase referring to defensive strength up the middle of the field. This includes the catcher, shortstop (and lesser degree second baseman), and the center f

“Strong up the middle” is a common baseball phrase referring to defensive strength up the middle of the field. This includes the catcher, shortstop (and lesser degree second baseman), and the center fielder. All three positions are difficult defensive assignments. Center fielders are responsible for covering the largest area of a baseball field. The position requires speed, good judgment, a quick first step and a explosive acceleration. Defense is so important that, like both shortstops and catchers, teams are sometimes willing to suffer with a poor hitting, but defensively sound center fielder. Teams lucky enough to find one who can hit as well as field have something truly special. With apologies to the current crop of players, some of who might eventually grace this list, here are ten of the best to ever play the position.

10 Jim Edmonds

9 Kirby Puckett

8 Oscar Charleston

7 Duke Snider

6 Ken Griffey Jr.

5 Tris Speaker

4 Ty Cobb

3 Mickey Mantle

2 Joe DiMaggio

1 Willie Mays

If you’re building the ideal center fielder you need look no further than the “Say Hey Kid.” Willie Mays was a true five-tool player. His career numbers include 523 doubles, 140 triples, 660 home runs, 1903 RBIs, 338 stolen bases and a career .302 batting average. Mays posted nine years of offensive WAR over 8.0 – which is nearly unheard of. But it wasn’t just his offense that made Mays great. He posted a career 18.1 defensive WAR and 195 outfield assists. He won 12 Gold Gloves and is the all-time leader in games played in centerfield with 2,829. Some of this is attributed to a lengthy career, but that shouldn’t diminish his numbers. Mays is the all-time leader in putouts in center field, fifth in assists, and second in double plays as a center fielder. Not only was Mays the best center fielder, he might have been the best all-around player to play the game.

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Top 10 Best Center Fielders of All Time