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Friday, April 18, 2014

Carlos Beltran: more of a center fielder than Mickey Mantle, Ty Cobb or Duke Snider. So what?

Is Carlos Beltran a Hall of Fame center fielder who happens to be finishing his career playing right field?  Is too much value given to center fielders?

1901 to 2014, Played 50% of games at CF, (requiring HR>=50 and H>=2000), sorted by Adjusted OPS+


Rk Player OPS+ HR H From To Age G PA AB R 2B 3B RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Mickey Mantle 172 536 2415 1951 1968 19-36 2401 9907 8102 1676 344 72 1509 1733 126 1710 13 14 47 113 153 38 .298 .421 .557 .977 *8397H/645 NYY
2 Ty Cobb 168 117 4189 1905 1928 18-41 3034 13084 11434 2246 724 295 1938 1249 681 94 291 897 212 .366 .433 .512 .945 *89/H73145 DET-PHA
3 Tris Speaker 157 117 3514 1907 1928 19-40 2791 11992 10195 1882 792 222 1531 1381 394 103 309 436 157 .345 .428 .500 .928 *8/H3971 BOS-CLE-WSH-PHA
4 Willie Mays 156 660 3283 1951 1973 20-42 2992 12496 10881 2062 523 140 1903 1464 192 1526 44 13 91 251 338 103 .302 .384 .557 .941 *8H/39675 NYG-SFG-TOT-NYM
5 Joe DiMaggio 155 361 2214 1936 1951 21-36 1736 7673 6821 1390 389 131 1537 790 369 46 14 130 30 9 .325 .398 .579 .977 *8/79H3 NYY
6 Duke Snider 140 407 2116 1947 1964 20-37 2143 8237 7161 1259 358 85 1333 971 104 1237 21 52 32 166 99 50 .295 .380 .540 .919 *89H/7 BRO-LAD-NYM-SFG
7 Ken Griffey 136 630 2781 1989 2010 19-40 2671 11304 9801 1662 524 38 1836 1312 246 1779 81 8 102 199 184 69 .284 .370 .538 .907 *89DH/73 SEA-CIN-TOT
8 Earl Averill 133 238 2019 1929 1941 27-39 1669 7221 6353 1224 401 128 1164 774 518 33 55 7 70 58 .318 .395 .534 .928 *8/7H9 CLE-TOT-DET-BSN
9 Ellis Burks 126 352 2107 1987 2004 22-39 2000 8177 7232 1253 402 63 1206 793 33 1340 60 29 62 171 181 84 .291 .363 .510 .874 *89D7H CHW-COL-TOT-SFG-CLE-BOS
10 Edd Roush 126 68 2376 1913 1931 20-38 1967 8148 7363 1099 339 182 981 484 260 53 256 268 92 .323 .369 .446 .815 *8/7H394 CHW-IND-NEW-TOT-CIN-NYG
11 Bernie Williams 125 287 2336 1991 2006 22-37 2076 9053 7869 1366 449 55 1257 1069 97 1212 39 12 64 223 147 87 .297 .381 .477 .858 *8D/9H7 NYY
12 Kirby Puckett 124 207 2304 1984 1995 24-35 1783 7831 7244 1071 414 57 1085 450 85 965 56 23 58 188 134 76 .318 .360 .477 .837 *89/DH7456 MIN
13 Carlos Beltran 123 362 2245 1998 2014 21-37 2078 9006 7920 1354 452 77 1336 938 95 1438 40 18 90 153 308 48 .283 .359 .497 .856 *89/HD73 KCR-TOT-NYM-STL-NYY
14 Cesar Cedeno 123 199 2087 1970 1986 19-35 2006 8133 7310 1084 436 60 976 664 83 938 56 32 71 167 550 179 .285 .347 .443 .790 *8397H/5 HOU-CIN-TOT-LAD
15 Amos Otis 115 193 2020 1967 1984 20-37 1998 8247 7299 1092 374 66 1007 757 53 1008 33 54 103 158 341 93 .277 .343 .425 .768 *8/H79D5 NYM-KCR-PIT
16 Torii Hunter 111 317 2178 1997 2014 21-38 2100 8576 7821 1163 445 37 1236 605 51 1553 85 6 59 231 189 91 .278 .335 .466 .801 *89/DH7 MIN-LAA-DET
17 Vada Pinson 111 256 2757 1958 1975 19-36 2470 10402 9645 1365 485 127 1169 574 69 1196 54 52 78 164 305 122 .286 .327 .442 .769 *897H/3D CIN-STL-CLE-CAL-KCR
18 Brett Butler 110 54 2375 1981 1997 24-40 2213 9545 8180 1359 277 131 578 1129 23 907 38 147 51 62 558 257 .290 .377 .376 .753 *87/H9D ATL-CLE-SFG-LAD-TOT
19 Max Carey 108 70 2665 1910 1929 20-39 2476 10769 9363 1545 419 159 800 1040 695 77 290 738 109 .285 .361 .386 .747 *879/H PIT-TOT-BRO
20 Kenny Lofton 107 130 2428 1991 2007 24-40 2103 9235 8120 1528 383 116 781 945 43 1016 32 72 65 111 622 160 .299 .372 .423 .794 *8/H7D9 HOU-CLE-ATL-NYY-PHI-LAD-TOT
21 Willie Davis 106 182 2561 1960 1979 20-39 2429 9822 9174 1217 395 138 1053 418 75 977 51 83 96 128 398 131 .279 .311 .412 .723 *8H/97D LAD-MON-TOT-SDP-CAL
22 Johnny Damon 104 235 2769 1995 2012 21-38 2490 10917 9736 1668 522 109 1139 1003 38 1257 50 57 71 93 408 103 .284 .352 .433 .785 *87D9H/3 KCR-OAK-BOS-NYY-DET-TBR-CLE
23 Steve Finley 104 304 2548 1989 2007 24-42 2583 10460 9397 1443 449 124 1167 844 69 1299 53 91 75 152 320 118 .271 .332 .442 .775 *89H/7D1 BAL-HOU-SDP-ARI-TOT-LAA-SFG-COL
24 Willie McGee 100 79 2254 1982 1999 23-40 2201 8188 7649 1010 350 94 856 448 58 1238 15 30 46 157 352 121 .295 .333 .396 .729 *89H7/3D6 STL-TOT-SFG-BOS
25 Marquis Grissom 92 227 2251 1989 2005 22-38 2165 8959 8275 1187 386 56 967 553 44 1240 31 38 62 171 429 116 .272 .318 .415 .732 *8H/79D MON-ATL-CLE-MIL-LAD-SFG
Rk Player OPS+ HR H From To Age G PA AB R 2B 3B RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/17/2014.

1901 to 2014, Played 75% of games at CF, (requiring HR>=50 and H>=2000), sorted by Adjusted OPS+


Rk Player OPS+ HR H From To Age G PA AB R 2B 3B RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Tris Speaker 157 117 3514 1907 1928 19-40 2791 11992 10195 1882 792 222 1531 1381 394 103 309 436 157 .345 .428 .500 .928 *8/H3971 BOS-CLE-WSH-PHA
2 Willie Mays 156 660 3283 1951 1973 20-42 2992 12496 10881 2062 523 140 1903 1464 192 1526 44 13 91 251 338 103 .302 .384 .557 .941 *8H/39675 NYG-SFG-TOT-NYM
3 Joe DiMaggio 155 361 2214 1936 1951 21-36 1736 7673 6821 1390 389 131 1537 790 369 46 14 130 30 9 .325 .398 .579 .977 *8/79H3 NYY
4 Ken Griffey 136 630 2781 1989 2010 19-40 2671 11304 9801 1662 524 38 1836 1312 246 1779 81 8 102 199 184 69 .284 .370 .538 .907 *89DH/73 SEA-CIN-TOT
5 Earl Averill 133 238 2019 1929 1941 27-39 1669 7221 6353 1224 401 128 1164 774 518 33 55 7 70 58 .318 .395 .534 .928 *8/7H9 CLE-TOT-DET-BSN
6 Edd Roush 126 68 2376 1913 1931 20-38 1967 8148 7363 1099 339 182 981 484 260 53 256 268 92 .323 .369 .446 .815 *8/7H394 CHW-IND-NEW-TOT-CIN-NYG
7 Bernie Williams 125 287 2336 1991 2006 22-37 2076 9053 7869 1366 449 55 1257 1069 97 1212 39 12 64 223 147 87 .297 .381 .477 .858 *8D/9H7 NYY
8 Kirby Puckett 124 207 2304 1984 1995 24-35 1783 7831 7244 1071 414 57 1085 450 85 965 56 23 58 188 134 76 .318 .360 .477 .837 *89/DH7456 MIN
9 Carlos Beltran 123 362 2245 1998 2014 21-37 2078 9006 7920 1354 452 77 1336 938 95 1438 40 18 90 153 308 48 .283 .359 .497 .856 *89/HD73 KCR-TOT-NYM-STL-NYY
10 Amos Otis 115 193 2020 1967 1984 20-37 1998 8247 7299 1092 374 66 1007 757 53 1008 33 54 103 158 341 93 .277 .343 .425 .768 *8/H79D5 NYM-KCR-PIT
11 Brett Butler 110 54 2375 1981 1997 24-40 2213 9545 8180 1359 277 131 578 1129 23 907 38 147 51 62 558 257 .290 .377 .376 .753 *87/H9D ATL-CLE-SFG-LAD-TOT
12 Kenny Lofton 107 130 2428 1991 2007 24-40 2103 9235 8120 1528 383 116 781 945 43 1016 32 72 65 111 622 160 .299 .372 .423 .794 *8/H7D9 HOU-CLE-ATL-NYY-PHI-LAD-TOT
13 Willie Davis 106 182 2561 1960 1979 20-39 2429 9822 9174 1217 395 138 1053 418 75 977 51 83 96 128 398 131 .279 .311 .412 .723 *8H/97D LAD-MON-TOT-SDP-CAL
14 Steve Finley 104 304 2548 1989 2007 24-42 2583 10460 9397 1443 449 124 1167 844 69 1299 53 91 75 152 320 118 .271 .332 .442 .775 *89H/7D1 BAL-HOU-SDP-ARI-TOT-LAA-SFG-COL
15 Marquis Grissom 92 227 2251 1989 2005 22-38 2165 8959 8275 1187 386 56 967 553 44 1240 31 38 62 171 429 116 .272 .318 .415 .732 *8H/79D MON-ATL-CLE-MIL-LAD-SFG
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/17/2014.

June 2, 2012 by djprybyl on Flickr via Wikimedia Commons
Brain Kenny led a panel discussion on MLB Network yesterday about whether Carlos Beltran has a shot at the Hall of Fame.  The consensus was yes.  My immediate reaction was that Beltran was benefiting from having his hitting compared to center fielders, that if he were compared to right fielders like Hank Aaron then Beltran would have more difficulty.

While Beltran may have a few years to go, right now he is included among players who played at least 75% of their games in center.  Review the two lists above.  The number of center fielders shrinks from 25 to 15 when the criteria changes from 50% to 75%.

Who are dropped?

Mickey Mantle
Ty Cobb
Duke Snider
Ellis Burks
Cesar Cedeno
Torii Hunter
Vada Pinson
Max Carey
Johnny Damon
Willie McGee
_____________________________________________________________________

Mantle played his final two seasons at first base, 262 games. Of 2,290 fielding games, he played 1,742 in center, 147 in right, 129 in left.

1,742/2,290=.76  That's 76 percent.  I'm not clear on how baseball-reference.com figures its percentages.
_____________________________________________________________________

Wow.  Mickey Mantle, Ty Cobb, Duke Snider.  Mantle and Cobb don't need the extra credit of playing center field to be considered all time great players.  It turns out that Aaron did not play 75% of his games in right.  Among right fielders using the 50% criteria, Snider would have the same ranking OPS+: number six.  Babe Ruth is not included because he split his outfield games between right and left.

Carlos Beltran ranked 13 out of 25 on the first center field list and 9 of 15 on the second list.  For some perspective Bernie Williams ranked 11 and 7.  Jim Edmonds missed the 2,000 hit cut with 1,949; he hit 393 homers and had OPS+ 132.  That would have ranked Edmonds 9 and 6, above both Beltran and Williams.  Among those three I would pick Edmonds number one, Williams three.  Bernie was not nearly as good a fielder and Betran was a great base stealer and outstanding tournament hitter.

How would they fit among corner outfielders, both right and left?  OPS+:

Edmonds 132: rank 22 tied with Tony Gwynn and Ken Singleton
Williams 125: rank 36 tied with Kiki Cuyler
Beltran 123; rank 39 tied with Tim Raines

What corner outfielders are ahead of them?

1901 to 2014, Played 50% of games at LF or RF, (requiring HR>=100 and H>=2000 and onbase_plus_slugging_plus>=133), sorted by Adjusted OPS+


Rk Player OPS+ HR H From To Age G PA AB R 2B 3B RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Babe Ruth 206 714 2873 1914 1935 19-40 2504 10622 8399 2174 506 136 2214 2062 1330 43 113 2 123 117 .342 .474 .690 1.164 971/8H3 BOS-NYY-BSN
2 Ted Williams 190 521 2654 1939 1960 20-41 2292 9788 7706 1798 525 71 1839 2021 86 709 39 5 20 197 24 17 .344 .482 .634 1.116 *79H/1 BOS
3 Barry Bonds 182 762 2935 1986 2007 21-42 2986 12606 9847 2227 601 77 1996 2558 688 1539 106 4 91 165 514 141 .298 .444 .607 1.051 *78H/D9 PIT-SFG
4 Stan Musial 159 475 3630 1941 1963 20-42 3026 12717 10972 1949 725 177 1951 1599 127 696 53 35 53 243 78 31 .331 .417 .559 .976 3798H/1 STL
5 Hank Aaron 155 755 3771 1954 1976 20-42 3298 13941 12364 2174 624 98 2297 1402 293 1383 32 21 121 328 240 73 .305 .374 .555 .928 *9783DH/45 MLN-ATL-MIL
6 Mel Ott 155 511 2876 1926 1947 17-38 2730 11348 9456 1859 488 72 1860 1708 896 64 109 82 89 .304 .414 .533 .947 *95H8/74 NYG
7 Manny Ramirez 154 555 2574 1993 2011 21-39 2302 9774 8244 1544 547 20 1831 1329 216 1813 109 2 90 243 38 33 .312 .411 .585 .996 79D/H CLE-BOS-TOT-LAD-TBR
8 Frank Robinson 154 586 2943 1956 1976 20-40 2808 11742 10006 1829 528 72 1812 1420 218 1532 198 17 102 270 204 77 .294 .389 .537 .926 97D3H8/5 CIN-BAL-LAD-CAL-TOT-CLE
9 Harry Heilmann 148 183 2660 1914 1932 19-37 2147 8964 7787 1291 542 151 1537 856 550 40 277 113 64 .342 .410 .520 .930 *93/H847 DET-CIN
10 Willie Stargell 147 475 2232 1962 1982 22-42 2360 9027 7927 1194 423 55 1540 937 227 1936 78 9 75 143 17 16 .282 .360 .529 .889 *73H/98 PIT
11 Larry Walker 141 383 2160 1989 2005 22-38 1988 8030 6907 1355 471 62 1311 913 117 1231 138 7 65 153 230 76 .313 .400 .565 .965 *9H/387D45 MON-COL-TOT-STL
12 Vladimir Guerrero 140 449 2590 1996 2011 21-36 2147 9059 8155 1328 477 46 1496 737 250 985 103 0 64 277 181 94 .318 .379 .553 .931 *9D/H87 MON-ANA-LAA-TEX-BAL
13 Gary Sheffield 140 509 2689 1988 2009 19-40 2576 10947 9217 1636 467 27 1676 1475 130 1171 135 9 111 235 253 104 .292 .393 .514 .907 975D/6H3 MIL-SDP-FLA-TOT-LAD-ATL-NYY-DET-NYM
14 Reggie Jackson 139 563 2584 1967 1987 21-41 2820 11418 9864 1551 463 49 1702 1375 164 2597 96 13 68 183 228 115 .262 .356 .490 .846 *9D8H/7 KCA-OAK-BAL-NYY-CAL
15 Bob Johnson 139 288 2051 1933 1945 27-39 1863 8050 6920 1239 396 95 1283 1075 851 24 28 102 96 64 .296 .393 .506 .899 *78/3495H PHA-WSH-BOS
16 Chuck Klein 137 300 2076 1928 1944 23-39 1753 7170 6486 1168 398 74 1201 601 521 12 69 55 79 .320 .379 .543 .922 *97H/83 CHC-TOT-PHI
17 Al Kaline 134 399 3007 1953 1974 18-39 2834 11596 10116 1622 498 75 1583 1277 131 1020 55 45 104 271 137 65 .297 .376 .480 .855 *98HD3/75 DET
18 Joe Medwick 134 205 2471 1932 1948 20-36 1984 8143 7635 1198 540 113 1383 437 551 26 44 203 42 .324 .362 .505 .867 *7H/938 STL-TOT-NYG-BRO
19 Paul Waner 134 113 3152 1926 1945 23-42 2550 10766 9459 1627 605 191 1309 1091 376 38 174 127 104 0 .333 .404 .473 .878 *9H/378 PIT-TOT-BSN-BRO-NYY
20 Billy Williams 133 426 2711 1959 1976 21-38 2488 10519 9350 1410 434 88 1475 1045 182 1046 43 8 73 200 90 49 .290 .361 .492 .853 *79D/3H8 CHC-OAK
21 Al Simmons 133 307 2927 1924 1944 22-42 2215 9518 8759 1507 539 149 1828 615 737 30 111 23 88 65 .334 .380 .535 .915 *78/H93 PHA-CHW-DET-WSH-TOT-BOS
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/18/2014.

Kaline played 487 of his 2,625 fielding games in center field, plus 135 at first base.  Aaron played 308 of 3,020 in center, 210 at first and was primarily a DH in his final two seasons with the Brewers.  Bonds played 171 of 2,874 in center.  Even Reggie Jackson played 188 of 2,102 in center, although more out of necessity than skill.

Kaline and probably Aaron could have played center.  Kaline was in right because of his powerful arm.  The same was true of Roberto Clemente (OPS+ 130).  Pirate Andy Van Slyke apparently relegated  Bonds to left as early as 1990 when Bonds won his first MVP.  At 25 Bonds had the speed to play center.

Left fielder Rickey Henderson (OPS+ 127) played mostly center in his 596 Yankee games and 446 of 2,826 over all.

What if Kaline, Aaron, Bonds, Clemente, and Henderson had played center for at least half their careers?  How much more value would they seem to have had?

And what if Beltran, Williams and Edmonds had played corner outfield positions instead of center?  Would there be any serious discussion of them as Hall of Fame players, especially Williams who was erratic in center and had a weak arm?  In the corners they'd be mixed in with the big boppers: Ruth, Williams, Bonds, Musial, Aaron.  Stolen bases and flashy fielding would add only so much.

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