2017 Positional Power Rankings: Center Field
by Dave Cameron - March 24, 2017 fangraphs.com
Though he’s currently projected to get the most playing time there, Curtis Granderson isn’t an optimal center fielder. He’s probably going to be more than serviceable on offense, as someone who gets on base and dumps baseballs into people’s beers in the right field seats. At 36, though, Granderson’s best days in the field are behind him. He’s much better suited to playing a corner, but with Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce being there, and Michael Conforto theoretically getting some time as well, he’s sequestered away in center. He shouldn’t kill the Mets there, and given the offensive production that they’re probably going out of this outfield, that’ll do just fine.
When the Yankees were mostly mocked for giving Jacoby Ellsbury $153 million a few years back, I mostly defended the deal as a modest overpay of a better player than people were giving them credit for acquiring. That looked like a decent opinion for exactly one year, since Ellsbury was pretty good in 2014, but things have fallen apart the last two years, and now the Yankees are paying a lot of money to rank behind a team that plucked Leonys Martin off the scrap heap.
With Ellsbury and Hicks, the team’s defense in center field is okay, but there’s not a lot of bat here, and this contract has four years to go. At this point, it’s probably unlikely that Ellsbury makes it through all four years in New York; unless he figures out how to hit for some power again, it seems likely he’ll be playing his way out of the Bronx before they are done paying him.
Cashman deserves credit for getting Granderson but not for essentially replacing him in the outfield with Ellsbury for the 2014 season:
December 8, 2009: Traded as part of a 3-team trade by the Detroit Tigers to the New York Yankees. The Detroit Tigers sent Edwin Jackson to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The New York Yankees sent Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Detroit Tigers. The New York Yankees sent Ian Kennedy to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Arizona Diamondbacks sent Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth to the Detroit Tigers.
October 31, 2013: Granted Free Agency.
December 9, 2013: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Mets.
M & M Boys, revolving door rosters, copy cat management and rooting for the laundry. Sunday, December 1, 2013
Curtis Granderson played four seasons for the Yankees: 2010-2013. Granderson joined Giambi as the only Yankee since Mickey Mantle to hit at least 40 homers in consecutive seasons. Granderson is now a free agent.
As a replacement for Granderson the Yankees are considering Carlos Beltran, a free agent who played most recently for the St. Louis Cardinals. I love Beltran and wanted the Yankees to sign him when he was a free agent the first time following the 2004 season. Beltran would have been the perfect replacement for Bernie Williams. The Yankees showed no interest then. Beltran instead joined the Mets and set the team record for home runs in his second season: 41. In his seventh season with the Mets they sent Beltran to San Francisco. Then on to St. Louis in 2012. Beltran will be 37 in 2014 and the Yanks want him because he might be willing to accept a short term deal.
How did we come to this? Copy cat management...
As a fan I'd like at least some core players to play most if not all of their careers with the team I root for. Having supplemental players is part of the deal but I'd like at least some of them to remain for at least 4-5 years. Despite their flaws I had gotten comfortable with Swisher and Granderson. I understand that the team needs fresh blood but I'm very concerned that all teams are entering a period when fan interest in individuals will receive very little consideration.
I wish that Carlos Beltran had been a Yankee the last decade but I don't really want him now that he is old and injury prone, not as a rent-a-player. I want to like the players on my team...
Despite what the Steinbrenner Kids may think we're not rooting for the laundry. And not for a cameo appearance. I don't want to see just anybody in a Yankee uniform, which is one reason I oppose the pending acquisition of Brian McCann.
Musical chairs Yankee style. Sunday, December 8, 2013
Hal, the Steinbrenner Kid who is running the Yankees these days, supposedly indicated that getting under the not very soft salary cap is a goal not a requirement, that he would be OK with exceeding the cap if needed.
After all the junk that has occurred Yankee fans should be very upset if the Yanks panic and exceed the cap for 2014. What a wimp. Geez, set a policy and stick to it...
... when the free agent season began the only reliable every day players the Yankees had were:
CF - Brett Gardner
1B - Mark Teixeira
LF - Alfonso Soriano
Catching was a bit up in the air with no starter but with several serviceable veterans and prospects:
- Francisco Cervelli
- Chris Stewart
- Austin Romine
- J.R. Murphy
- Gary Sanchez ...
Tuesday, November 26, 2013 Brian McCann: is he worth $17 million for each of the next five years? ...
The one position the Yankees did not need to fill was center field. However, incumbent Brett Gardner is being replaced with Jacoby Ellsbury. Both are good fielders, good base stealers and neither hits home runs, except for the 32 (15 home, 17 road) Ellsbury inexplicably hit in 2011, his only season in double figures.
Ellsbury: Born: September 11, 1983 OPS+ 108; 241 SB, 46 CS; OPS+ 2013 114
Gardner: Born: August 24, 1983 OPS+ 97; 161 SB, 38 CS; OPS+ 2013 108
Ellsbury is an upgrade but hardly one worth $153 million over seven years...
With so many holes to fill, why fill a non-hole? ...
In right field the Yankees obviously could have brought back Curtis Granderson who signed with the Mets for $15 million for each of four years. Instead they signed Carlos Beltran for the same annual pay for three years.
Granderson born: March 16, 1981 OPS+ 117
Beltran born: April 24, 1977 OPS+ 122
Beltran will be 39 in his final Yankee season. Granderson will be 37 in his final Met season.
Friday, December 6, 2013 Curtis Granderson: home run rate Detroit v. New York.
Granderson, Beltran and continuity v. winning. Monday, December 9, 2013
Carlos Beltran will be replacing Curtis Granderson in the Yankee outfield. Beltran will join another new Yankee Jacoby Ellsbury who is coming from rival Boston.
What differentiates them? Age, money and continuity...
Granderson played the last four seasons with the Yankees. Had the Yankees given him the same deal that he signed with the Mets, Granderson would play eight seasons with the Yankees. That's significant for a player who is not a star but a significant contributor and all around good guy...
The Yankees really did not need Ellsbury to play center field because they already had Brett Gardner ...
Did Yankee ownership and management consider continuity? To me it makes about as much baseball sense for the team to have Granderson and Beltran for a total of seven seasons, than to have Ellsbury for seven seasons at significantly higher pay plus Beltran for another three seasons.
Ellsbury will achieve substantial status if he makes significant contributions and the team wins. Beltran cannot because he is joining the team when he is too old to be much more than a rent-a-player. It's an unfortunate way to describe such a good player but Beltran has put himself into that category by playing for too many teams...
Ellsbury is not really a home run hitter. He has double figures only once: 32 in 2011. But both Granderson and Beltran have hit 40 homers playing center field in New York. Duke Snider did that five consecutive seasons playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Willie Mays did it twice: 41, 51.
Among Yankee center fielders:
Joe DiMaggio: 46
Mickey Mantle: 52, 42, 40, 54
Curtis Granderson: 41, 43.
Yankee players have hit 40 homers 30 times. The only other Yankees to hit 40 homers multiple times:
Babe Ruth: 11
Lou Gehrig: 5
Mickey Mantle: 4
Jason Giambi: 2
Alex Rodriguez: 2
Curtis Granderson: 2
The only Yankees to hit 40 homers in consecutive seasons:
Granderson is in some pretty elite company but he's leaving after only four seasons. Don't his achievements count for something other than a projection of his wins above replacement (WAR)? ...
Carlos Beltran is tied for the Met record. Maybe Granderson will challenge that. Has anyone even considered that? The Yankees now have the Met home run king and the Mets have a Yankee who both equaled and exceeded the Met record.
Winning is the thing. But when the mix of players is so arbitrary when do we value flesh and blood over laundry? Is the current model of success used by Boston in 2013 with short term additions the immediate future? If so, after a couple of years of that, how much will we care about the players and our team?
Triangle offense: Yankees copying Knicks? Monday, December 1, 2014
What's the plan, Cashman? Maybe Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is taking a page from the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association (NBA): the triangle offense...
... the Knicks seem to have inspired the Yankees, if for no other reason the Knicks seem to have a plan. A year ago the Yankees had a plan: get under the soft salary cap and free up about $100 million for use in acquiring future free agents. However, the Yankees lacked discipline and focus and instead wasted lots of money on Jacoby Ellsbury (CF, 31), Brian McCann (C, 31) and Carlos Beltran (RF, 37). After spending on them the Yankees were on the salary cap bubble but smashed through the cap by signing pitcher Masahiro Tanaka...
The Yankees now seem content with emulating the Knicks and trying to ensure that the team qualifies for the Major Baseball League (MBL) tournament, which is now also pretty easy with the addition of a second wild card in each conference...
So with that background why not suspect that the Yankees intend to implement a comparably bizarre baseball version of the triangle offense? Maybe that's why the Yankees have gaping holes at second, third and short: to fill with the triangle offense. Or maybe the Bermuda triangle. Those same holes existed a year ago when the Yankees signed the aforementioned players for center, catcher and right. Maybe they expected to fill the vacant infield spots by osmosis...
Then the question could change from what's the plan to who's on first?