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2021 MLB Rankings: Center Field 10-1

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2021 MLB Rankings: 30 days of MLB rankings! In this series, we will be ranking every projected starting player for the 2021 season at each in position, each in three parts. On day eighteen of this series, we’ll look at the top 10 center fielders in MLB. 

Check out the previous rankings from this 2021 MLB Rankings series: 

Catchers 30-21 | Catchers 20-11 | Catchers 10-1First Base 30-21First Base 20-11 | First Base 10-1Second Base 30-21Second Base 20-11Second Base 10-1Shortstop 30-21Shortsop 20-11Shortstop 10-1Third Base 30-21| Third Base 20-11Third Base 10-1Left Field 30-21Left Field 20-11Left Field 10-1Center Field 30-21| Center Field 20-11

2021 MLB Rankings: 10-6


10. Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs 2020: 19

2020: 57 games, .258/.361/.505 splits, .866 OPS, 12 Home Runs, 28 RBIs

A utilityman for the first three years of his career, Ian Happ finally played to his full potential and broke out in 2020, finishing 18th in the NL MVP race. Happ has great power at the plate, having hit 24 extra-base hits in 2020, but he needs to limit his strikeouts. Defensively, second and third base are his best positions, but he will handle center field in 2021.  

9. Kyle Lewis, Seattle Mariners 2020: (LF- 28)

2020: 58 games, .262/.364/.437 splits, .801 OPS, 11 Home Runs, 28 RBIs

Kyle Lewis broke onto the scene in 2020, winning the AL Rookie of the Year award as the Mariners’ best player. Lewis flashed his great power early in the season as he posted an OPS+ of 126. While he fell off a bit towards the end of the season, Lewis proved that he could be an all-star for several years to come going forward. 

8. Alex Verdugo, Boston Red Sox 2020: (RF-22)

2020: 53 games, .308/.367/.478 splits, .844 OPS, 6 Home Runs, 15 RBIs

While he’s no Mookie Betts, Alex Verdugo proved he was a solid return piece for Boston in that trade. Verdugo is a reliable leadoff hitter, doing a great job at working counts and getting on base. Defensively, he had a great year in left and right field, but with Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. gone, Verdugo will move to center for 2021. 

7. Trent Grisham, San Diego Padres 2020: 25

2020: 59 games, .251/.352/.456 splits, .808 OPS, 10 Home Runs, 26 RBIs

A relatively unknown player coming into 2020, Trent Grisham broke onto the scene for San Diego in 2020. Grisham showed off his power and ability to get on base at the plate, recording an OPS+ of 122. Grisham flashed a ton of speed as well, stealing ten bases on 11 attempts. Defensively, he was elite as well, earning the NL center field Gold Glove award.  

6. Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets 2020: 6

2020: 55 games, .280/.404/.484 splits, .888 OPS, 8 Home Runs, 18 RBIs

At age 27, Brandon Nimmo had the best year of his career in 2020, recording an OPS+ of 146 while hitting eight home runs. Nimmo has improved significantly at limiting strikeouts while working counts and drawing walks. Defensively, he struggled in 2020, posting an Rdrs of -5 in center and keeping him out of the top five.  

2021 MLB Rankings: 5-1

5. Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins 2020: 8

2020: 39 games, .254/.267/.577 splits, .844 OPS, 13 Home Runs, 27 RBIs

While he missed some time due to injury, Byron Buxton had the best year of his career in 2020, finishing 16th in the AL MVP race. Buxton has elite power as he hit 13 home runs in 39 games. He does a horrible job at drawing walks, only walking twice in 2020, but besides that, he’s a near-complete hitter. Defensively, Buxton is great as well, having earned a Gold Glove in 2017.  

4. Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks 2020: (2B-1)

2020: 45 games, .287/.323/.409 splits, .732 OPS, 2 Home Runs, 17 RBIs

After an MVP-caliber season in 2019, Ketel Marte took a massive step back in 2020, as his numbers dropped across the board. A second baseman in 2020, Marte is temporarily projected to play center field in 2021. While he likely is not as good as he was in 2019, Marte is also definitely better than the player we saw in 2020.  

3. George Springer, Toronto Blue Jays 2020: 3

2020: 51 games, .265/.359/.540 splits, .899 OPS, 14 Home Runs, 32 RBIs

After spending the first seven years of his career in Houston, George Springer heads north of the border with Toronto in 2021. Springer has elite power as a leadoff hitter, posting an OPs+ of 140 with Houston in 2020. Defensively, Springer is above league-average, having posted an Rdrs of 6 in center field last season. 

2. Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers 2020: 2

2020: 56 games, .239/.333/.455 splits, .789 OPS, 12 Home Runs, 30 RBIs

Despite having a down year in 2020, Cody Bellinger is still the second-best center fielder in MLB. The 2019 MVP, Bellinger still hit 12 home runs in the regular season before struggling throughout the playoffs. Defensively, Bellinger moved to center last season and did a great job, posting an Rdrs of 5 at that position.  

1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels 2020: 1

2020: 53 games, .281/.390/.603 splits, .993 OPS, 17 Home Runs, 46 RBIs

Any day where I get to talk about Mike Trout is a good day. A year where Trout records an OPS under 1.000 is considered a “down” season for him. Now the best player in baseball for nearly seven straight seasons, Trout posted an OPS+ of 168 in 2020. If he can replicate this success for several more seasons, Trout could end up as the GOAT by the end of his career.


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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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