Today we take a look at the four players who will man centerfield for our shared city teams. Today will start with the Chicago teams.
Adam Eaton is the Chicago White Sox centerfielder and he’s the engine that makes this team go. The problem with that is Eaton was injured quite a bit last season playing in 123 games last season, but that was his season high total for games. Eaton hit .300 on the nose and led the American League in triples with 10. Eaton is 26 years old and came over to the White Sox as part of a three team trade in December of 2013. Here’s what the trade worked out to be. The Chicago White Sox sent Hector Santiago to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Chicago White Sox sent a player to be named later to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim sent a player to be named later and Mark Trumbo to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Arizona Diamondbacks sent Tyler Skaggs to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim sent A.J. Schugel to the Arizona Diamondbacks to complete the trade. The Chicago White Sox sent Brandon Jacobs to the Arizona Diamondbacks to complete the trade. If Eaton can stay healthy and hit like he did last season he seems to be the speed type of player the White Sox need at the top of their line up.
The Chicago Cubs went out and traded with the Houston Astros for Dexter Fowler in January of this year. In return for Fowler the Astros received Dan Straily and Luis Valbuena.. Fowler is 28 years old and entering his 8th season in the majors. Fowler is a career .271 hitter and has a season high batting average of .300 in 2012 with the Colorado Rockies. Fowler has put up double-digit totals in steals every season in the majors; he had 11 last season with the Astros and has a career high of 27 in 2009 with the Rockies. Fowler played in 116 games due to some injuries, Not known as a power hitter Fowler had just 8 home runs. Fowler has what the experts call plus range in the outfield; he committed 5 errors last season and had a fielding percentage of .980. Moving to a smaller ballpark like Wrigley Field should improve Fowler’s defensive numbers. With any Cubs veteran player you have to wonder if Fowler is a long-term solution in centerfield or if he’s just holding the spot for one of the many Cubs prospects.
We’re choosing between two good defenders who both have speed, but not a lot of power. While they are very equal and it’s a close decision; I’m going with Eaton because he’s that top of the order spark a team needs.
The New York Mets have turned their centerfield job over to Juan Lagares. This is 3rd season with the Mets and if he’s going to break out I’m sure the Mets are hoping this is the season he does it. Lagares has shown he can play defense at the major league level as he was awarded the Gold Glove as a centerfielder last season. Lagares had 293 putouts with 6 assists and committed 5 errors for a fielding percentage of .984. In 2013 Lagares led all National League outfielders with 14 assists. At the plate Lagares batting average jumped from .242 in 2014 to .281 last season. Lagares stolen bases jumped from 6 in 2013 to 13 last season and you wonder if Lagares could double his total this season and end up among the league leaders in that category. Lagares will have to improve on his 1 walk to every 4.35 strikeouts ratio from last season. A lot of experts think the Mets can contend for a wild card spot this season and they’ll need improvement from Lagares if they’re going to grab a playoff spot.
Jacoby Ellsbury has always been considered one of the top outfielders in the American League even with his injury history. There where no injury issues for Ellsbury last season as he played in 149 games for the New York Yankees and while his power numbers went up his other numbers went down. Ellsbury hit 16 home runs in 2014; it was the 2nd time he’s reached double-digit home runs in a season. He had 32 home runs in 2011 with the Boston Red Sox. Ellsbury hit .271 last season for the Yankees, but is a .293 career hitter. Ellsbury had 70 RBI’s and added 39 stolen bases. Ellsbury has always been a threat to steal a bag as he’s led the A.L. three times in stolen bases. Ellsbury had a fielding percentage of .997 last season and committed just 1 error as a centerfield. Ellsbury has always been considered a good defender and did win a Gold Glove after the 2011 season. A healthy Ellsbury is a key to any success the Yankees might have in 2015 and with the AL East wide open he’ll become more of a factor.
An easier choice for me among the New York centerfielders as I’ll take the former MVP candidate Ellsbury over the player who still has a lot to prove in Lagares.
Tomorrow we’ll move over to rightfield for our match ups.
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