The shortened 2020 MLB season is rapidly approaching. The new season, which will see every team play 60 games, gets underway on July 23rd. This means it’s once again time to go over the stars and the other players which will shine in 2020.
This piece is devoted to the centerfield position. Outfields across Major League Baseball consist of some of the best hitters in baseball. Of course, one name is superior to the others but it’s very clear that the position is amongst the most talented in the league.
So, without further ado, here are the five best centerfielders in Major League Baseball, ranked:
This is a pick that surprises a total of nobody. Trout is by far the best player in baseball today and is on a pretty good pace to be among the greatest to ever step foot on the diamond. The Millville, New Jersey native debuted in 2011 and didn’t need much time to feel the pressure of the MLB game, recording one of the greatest rookie seasons in history.
Since then, “The Millville Meteor” has won three AL Most Valuable Player awards and has posted Hall of Fame-caliber statistical figures. Trout currently holds a batting line of .305/.419/.581, in addition to a career OPS of 1.000 -- many would need enormous effort to get that in a season. He has led MLB in on-base percentage for four years in a row and hit career-high 45 homers last year. His nearly perfect defensive play in centerfield establishes him as a typical five-tool player.
No doubt here. Trout is not only the best centerfielder but also the best player Major League Baseball currently has to offer. The real competition starts after him because Trout is in a league of his own.
Ronald Acuna has certainly lived up to the hype since becoming a part of the Atlanta Braves team. The Venezuela native was able to follow up a Rookie of the Year campaign by driving in 101 runs and hitting 41 homeruns in 2019. In addition, he was able to keep his on-base percentage near his 2018 figure of .366, posting a mere 0.001 decrease. This was virtually a win since he has almost 300 more plate appearances last season and this number is still 0.40 over the league average (.323).
Acuna also finished over the .500 slugging percentage mark in both seasons on the MLB-level. Last year, he finished 20th within the NL in slugging % and 18th in OPS. He’s become a valuable asset in a slugger’s league and is confidently nearing the best in the business in that department.
The youngster has developed into one of the game’s primary outfielders due to his power-hitting, ability to reach a base, and base stealing off the Braves’ leadoff spot. Alongside Freddie Freeman, he’s Atlanta’s most important bat and his prime could see him post historically great numbers at the plate.
Whatever the narrative is about the Astros and their hitting, there’s no denying how well George Springer has performed on the top of a stacked Houston batting order. Not only that but last season might have been among his best. The University of Connecticut product hit 39 homers off the leadoff spot, most in the league, and reached base at a .385 OBP rate, the third-best amongst leadoff batters.
Springer’s importance to the club was on display more than ever in 2019. During that season, both Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa missed significant time with injuries. This meant players like Springer and Michael Brantley had to step up. Both men did just that, with Brantley becoming one of the most consistent hitters in the AL and Springer finishing near the top 20 in homeruns and on-base percentage.
With the addition of Yordan Alvarez halfway through last year’s campaign, the Astros batting order became even deeper and that’ll carry onto 2020. Therefore, Springer could be even more impactful hitting bombs off the No. 1 spot in the lineup. If he starts the 2020 campaign on a high note, he could be among the league’s best power-hitters in a shortened season.
Marte is generally a second baseman and will get more time there with Starling Marte now occupying the starting centerfield job. However, he did play 96 games in the outfield last season and could continue to be a part of the rotation at the position. Also, there’s no denying that he put on an MVP-caliber season while playing there for the majority of last year.
En route to finishing seventh in Wins Above Replacement league-wide, Marte absolutely dominated opposing pitchers. He was in top 20 in both batting average and on-base percentage, while his .592 slugging percentage was the ninth-best across Major League Baseball. That led to a fourth-place finish in the NL MVP voting.
The 26-year-old Marte is still yet to hit his prime, which means that this level of powerful hitting is here to stay. He certainly proved that he could post elite figures over a full-season workload. With the Dbacks lineup now being deeper than ever, expect Marte to drive in even more runs and cement his place amongst the top 20 hitters in MLB.
During his first years of hitting big flies at a record rate, Gallo was fairly inconsistent. Despite 81 homeruns over 2017 and 2018 combined, the Nevada native had more than 400 strikeouts over that same span. As a result, he hit sub-.210 in both campaigns and did no justice even to his slugging percentage, despite all the power.
In 2019, a notable shift in his game at the plate was on display. Before an injury ended a strong campaign, Gallo was on pace to hit 40 homeruns for the third year in a row. However, he was able to increase his BA by 25% and his SLUG by a whole tenth. That, combined with an over-league-average OBP, meant he was no longer an all-or-nothing hitter. Gallo has become more reliable and more consistent, which is important for a Rangers lineup that lacks depth.
If he’s able to at least duplicate this performance in 2020, Gallo could be among the pleasant surprises and lead the Rangers to a playoff run.