One of the things I intended to do with my series on center fielders was to drop a list of my ten all-time best center fielders. Well, you’ll note it isn’t around. There’s a reason for that and it involves the tenth man.
It took almost no time in producing a list of nine players that I thought worked as nine of the top ten center fielders ever. In fact, it was, at least to me, rather easy. I, as usual, excluded players like Oscar Charleston who played in the Negro Leagues and guys like King Kelly who played back when baseball was two words. But I still ran into a problem, who’s number ten? Or to be more precise who’s the tenth man without reference to whether he’s number ten or not?
It all revolves around a choice between Jim Edmonds and Andruw Jones. Both were terrific center fielders. Jones glided to the ball and Edmonds threw himself at it. Both hit well. Joe DiMaggio they weren’t, but they hit well. Jones had more pop, but there was a small steroid cloud on his horizon when he went over 50 home runs. He played for more winners, but he had a better team around him. Edmonds only won it all once, exactly the same number of times as Jones. I don’t know that either was ever considered the best player on his team (well, maybe Jones the year he popped 50), but both were major contributors to their team’s success. I looked at their sabermetric numbers. They’re a mixed bag.
So I’m not doing a list until I decide which I want. I’ll read your opinions if you want to give them, but I don’t promise to take your advice. How’s that for honesty?