Center fielder

A center fielder, abbreviated CF, is the outfielder in baseball who plays defense in center field – the baseball and softball fielding position between left field and right field. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the center fielder is assigned the number 8.

Baseball CF
The position of the center fielder
Curtis Granderson on July 16, 2016 (cropped)
Curtis Granderson, center fielder for the New York Mets (2014–2017).

Position description

Outfielders must cover large distances, so speed, instincts and quickness to react to the ball are key. They must be able to catch fly balls above their heads and on the run. They must be able to throw the ball accurately over a long distance to be effective. Novice players may find it difficult to concentrate on the game, since they are so far from the action. Emphasizing the correct position will give outfield players something to concentrate on at each pitch.

As well as the requirements above, the center fielder must be the outfielder who has the best combination of speed and throwing distance. The center fielder "covers more 'grass' than any other player" (see photo) and, most likely, will catch the most fly balls. The position also has the greatest responsibility among the three outfielders for coordinating their play to prevent collisions when converging on a fly ball, and on plays where the center fielder doesn't make the catch, he must position himself behind the corner outfielder as backup. The center outfielder is the captain of the outfield and has the authority to call off the corner fielders when he has a better chance to catch the ball. Aside from requiring more speed and range, the center field position is slightly easier to field because balls tend to fly on a straight path, rather than curving as they do for the other outfield positions. A center fielder's vision and depth perception is a coveted skill and must be above average. Because the position requires a good arm and fast legs, center field is generally where the team puts its best all-around athletes; as a result, center fielders are often fine hitters as well. Many center fielders are renowned as excellent batters and base runners.

Minute Maid Park Centerfield
View from center field at Minute Maid Park.

When a base runner is trying to steal second base the center fielder must back up second base on throws from the catcher to second base in case the second baseman misses the catch or it is a bad throw.

Hall of Fame center fielders

See also

Aaron Hicks

Aaron Michael Hicks (born October 2, 1989) is an American professional baseball center fielder for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball (MLB). He made his MLB debut on April 1, 2013, with the Minnesota Twins.

Adam Jones (baseball)

Adam LaMarque Jones (born August 1, 1985) is an American professional baseball outfielder who is a free agent. He has played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles.

The Mariners selected Jones in the first round of the 2003 MLB draft. He came up in the Mariners' minor league system as a shortstop before transitioning to the outfield. He made his MLB debut with the Mariners in 2006 and was traded to the Orioles before the 2008 season. Jones is a five-time MLB All-Star, a four-time Gold Glove Award winner, and a Silver Slugger winner.

Ashburn Alley

Ashburn Alley is the open concourse behind center field at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. It is named after Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn, Phillies center fielder from 1948 to 1959, and was also a long time broadcaster for the Phillies from 1963 until his death in September 1997. Ashburn Alley spans the entire outfield concourse (also between the Left Field and Right Field Gates), and features a "street-fair" like atmosphere before and during a game.Ashburn Alley's name sake began while Ashburn was still playing. During the Phillies playing days at old Shibe Park, Ashburn was known for dropping bunts down the third baseline, which had slightly overgrown grass that helped the ball stay fair. A bronze statue of Ashburn lies in the center of the alley.

Baseball positions

There are nine fielding positions in baseball. Each position conventionally has an associated number, which is used to score putouts:

1 (pitcher), 2 (catcher), 3 (first baseman), 4 (second baseman), 5 (third baseman), 6 (shortstop), 7 (left fielder), 8 (center fielder), and 9 (right fielder).For example:

If the third baseman fields a ball and throws it to first, it is recorded as a 5–3 out.

A double play where the second baseman fields, throws to the shortstop covering second base, who throws to the first baseman, is recorded as a 4-6-3 double play.

Defensive Runs Saved

Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) is a baseball statistic that measures the number of runs a player saved or cost his team on defense relative to an average player. Any positive number is above average, and the best fielders typically fall into a range of 15–20 for a season. The statistic was developed by Baseball Info Solutions and the data used in calculating it first became available in 2003.As of the end of the 2017 Major League Baseball season, the record for most Defensive Runs Saved in a single season is held by center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who saved 42 runs in 2015. Matt Kemp set the record for fewest Defensive Runs Saved in a season when he cost the Los Angeles Dodgers 33 runs as a center fielder in 2010. Third baseman Adrián Beltré has the most Defensive Runs Saved in a career with 212. Former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter has the distinction of being the worst fielder ever measured by DRS; he accumulated -152 Defensive Runs Saved between 2003 and the end of his career.Fielding percentage is the statistic that has traditionally been used to measure defensive ability, but it fails to account of a fielder's range. Fielders with ample range on defense are able to make plays that most players would not have the chance to make. Defensive Runs Saved was created to take into account range when measuring a player's defensive ability. The table below shows a comparison between the top 10 shortstops in terms of fielding percentage and the top 10 shortstops in terms of defensive runs saved from 2002 to 2017. The table shows that only three players appear on both lists, exemplifying that there is a difference in what the two statistics measure.To calculate Defensive Runs Saved, for each ball hit, points are either added or subtracted to the fielder's rating depending on whether or not they make the play. For example, if a ball hit to the center fielder is expected to be caught 30 percent of the time, and it is caught, the fielder gains 0.7 points. If the center fielder does not catch the ball, he loses 0.3 points.

George Van Haltren

George Edward Martin Van Haltren (March 30, 1866 – October 1, 1945) was an American center fielder in Major League Baseball. In his 17-year career, lasting from 1887 through 1903, he played for the Chicago White Stockings, Brooklyn Ward's Wonders, Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, and New York Giants. He also served as player-manager of the Orioles in 1892. Van Haltren recorded 2,544 career hits and a batting average of .316.

Jim Landis

James Henry Landis (March 9, 1934 – October 7, 2017) was an American professional baseball player. Landis played in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a center fielder on six teams from 1957 through 1967. While playing eight seasons for the Chicago White Sox, he was an American League (AL) All-Star in 1962 and an AL Gold Glove Award winner five consecutive seasons. Landis is considered to be one of the best defensive center fielders in major-league history.Landis attended Richmond High School in Richmond, California where he starred in baseball as a third baseman and Contra Costa College in San Pablo, California. He was signed by the White Sox as an amateur free agent in 1952. Landis served in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict in 1954 and 1955, and was stationed in Alaska before beginning his major league career.

Jon Jay

Jonathan Henry Jay (born March 15, 1985) is an American professional baseball center fielder for the Chicago White Sox of Major League Baseball (MLB). He has played in MLB for the St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals and Arizona Diamondbacks. A product of the University of Miami, he played college baseball for the Miami Hurricanes and was the Cardinals' second round selection in the 2006 MLB draft. He made his MLB debut for the Cardinals in 2010 after batting .301 with 34 home runs, .803 on-base plus slugging percentage and 61 stolen bases in 409 minor league games.

The starting center fielder for four consecutive National League Championship Series (NLCS)-qualifying clubs as a Cardinal (2011−14), Jay was a World Series champion in 2011 as the Cardinals defeated the Texas Rangers. Between 2011 and 2013, he established an errorless record streak for NL center fielders at 245 games. He finished tenth in 2012 in the NL in both batting average and on-base percentage. After wrist injuries limited his effectiveness in 2015, the Cardinals traded Jay to the Padres. Active in the community, he has hosted celebrity bowling tournaments for charity. Jay signed a one year $8M contract to play the 2017 season with the Chicago Cubs.

Juan Beníquez

Juan José Beníquez Torres (born May 13, 1950) is a former center fielder in Major League Baseball who played for the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, California Angels, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays in all or parts of 17 seasons spanning 1971–1988. Listed at 5' 11" (1.82 m), 150 lb. (68 k), Beníquez batted and threw right-handed. He was born in the city of San Sebastián, Puerto Rico.

A valuable role player for a long time, Beníquez spent 17 years in the major leagues playing for eight different American League clubs. He started his career with the Red Sox in 1971, appearing at shortstop as a backup for Luis Aparicio in part of two seasons, and later was switched to center field.

A Gold Glove Award winner with Texas in 1977, Beníquez posted four consecutive .300 seasons with California and Baltimore from 1983 through 1986, with a career-high .336 in 1984, and also hit three home runs in a game for the Orioles in 1986. Besides, he had three post-season appearances, including the 1975 World Series with the Red Sox.

A .274 career hitter, Beníquez batted 79 home runs with 610 runs and 476 RBI in 1500 games played. After his majors career was over, he held the record for having played for eight American League teams.

Afterwards, Beníquez hit .359 while playing for the St. Lucie Legends of the Senior Professional Baseball Association in 1989.

List of Major League Baseball career fielding errors as a center fielder leaders

In baseball statistics, an error is an act, in the judgment of the official scorer, of a fielder misplaying a ball in a manner that allows a batter or baserunner to advance one or more bases or allows an at bat to continue after the batter should have been put out.

A right fielder, abbreviated RF, is the outfielder in baseball or softball who plays defense in right field. Right field is the area of the outfield to the right of a person standing at home plate and facing towards the pitcher's mound. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the right fielder is assigned the number 9.

Tris Speaker is the all-time leader in errors committed as a center fielder with 226 career. Ty Cobb (202) is second all-time and the only other center fielder to commit over 200 career errors.

List of Major League Baseball career putouts as a center fielder leaders

In baseball statistics, a putout (denoted by PO or fly out when appropriate) is given to a defensive player who records an out by a tagging a runner with the ball when he is not touching a base (a tagout), catching a batted or thrown ball and tagging a base to put out a batter or runner (a force out), catching a thrown ball and tagging a base to record an out on an appeal play, catching a third strike (a strikeout), catching a batted ball on the fly (a flyout), or being positioned closest to a runner called out for interference.

A center fielder, abbreviated CF, is the outfielder in baseball who plays defense in center field – the baseball fielding position between left field and right field. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the center fielder is assigned the number 8.

Willie Mays is the all-time leader in putouts as a center fielder with 7,029 career. Mays is the only center fielder to record more than 7,000 career putouts as a center fielder.

Marquis Grissom

Marquis Deon Grissom (born April 17, 1967) is an American former professional baseball center fielder. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Montreal Expos, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Francisco Giants between 1989 and 2005.

Omar Moreno

Omar Renán Moreno Quintero (born October 24, 1952) is a former center fielder who played from 1975 through 1986 in Major League Baseball. He was best known for his years with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and was the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter on their 1979 World Series champion team.

Outfielder

An outfielder is a person playing in one of the three defensive positions in baseball or softball, farthest from the batter. These defenders are the left fielder, the center fielder, and the right fielder. An outfielder's duty is to try to catch long fly balls before they hit the ground or to quickly catch or retrieve and return to the infield any other balls entering the outfield. Outfielders normally play behind the six other members of the defense who play in or near the infield.

By convention, each of the nine defensive positions in baseball is numbered. The outfield positions are 7 (left field), 8 (center field) and 9 (right field). These numbers are shorthand designations useful in baseball scorekeeping and are not necessarily the same as the squad numbers worn on player uniforms.

Outfielders named to the MLB All-Century Team are Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Pete Rose, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Ken Griffey Jr.

Paul Hines

Paul Aloysius Hines (March 1, 1855 – July 10, 1935) was an American center fielder in professional baseball who played in the National Association and Major League Baseball from 1872 to 1891. Born in Virginia, he is credited with winning baseball's first triple crown in 1878; the accomplishment was not noted at the time, as runs batted in would not be counted until years later, home runs were rare and home run leadership obscure, and Abner Dalrymple was then erroneously recognized as the batting champion. There is some controversy over whether Hines was also the first player to turn an unassisted triple play, since it was an 8-8-4 Triple Play.

Hines probably practiced with the original Washington Nationals or played on its junior team before joining the National Association with that club in 1872. When the original Chicago White Stockings resumed play in 1874, the teenage Hines played every game, usually in center field. He remained with the club four seasons, including the inaugural National League championship season of 1876, and then played eight seasons for the Providence Grays from 1878 to 1885, that club's entire major league association including two more pennants. He remained an everyday major league center fielder through two seasons for a new Washington Nationals club and one for the Indianapolis Hoosiers, shifting to first base for a second Indianapolis season in 1889. He returned to center field with gradually declining playing time for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, Boston Beaneaters and Washington Statesmen in 1890 and 1891. He finished his professional career splitting 1896 between Burlington, Iowa and Mobile, Alabama at age 41.

During the first five NL seasons, from 1876 through 1880, Hines had more base hits than any other player, and he retired third to Cap Anson and Jim O'Rourke with 1,884 career hits in the majors. He also remained among the top 10 major league career home run hitters as late as 1887. His total of 16 seasons as a major league team's primary center fielder was not surpassed until Tris Speaker and Ty Cobb in 1925.

Hines died at age 80 in Hyattsville, Maryland, deaf and blind. His hearing had been impaired in the 1880s if not earlier.

Preston Wilson

Preston James Richard Wilson (born July 19, 1974) is a former professional baseball center fielder. He played all or part of ten seasons in Major League Baseball from 1998 to 2007. He is both the nephew and stepson of former New York Mets outfielder Mookie Wilson. (Mookie married Preston's mother after his brother fathered Preston.)

Terry Moore (baseball)

Terry Bluford Moore (May 27, 1912 – March 29, 1995) was an American professional baseball center fielder, manager, and coach. He played for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1935–1942 and 1946–1948, and later coached for them from 1949–1952 and 1956–1958. Moore managed the Philadelphia Phillies in 1954.

Tom Brown (center fielder)

Thomas Tarlton Brown (September 21, 1860 – October 25, 1927) was an Anglo-American center fielder in Major League Baseball. Born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, he played for 17 seasons, a career in which he batted .265 while scoring 1,521 runs with 1,951 hits. Upon his retirement he served as an umpire, working mostly in the National League in 1898 and 1901–1902.

Torii Hunter

Torii Kedar Hunter (; born July 18, 1975) is an American former professional baseball center fielder and right fielder. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Detroit Tigers from 1997 through 2015. Hunter was a five-time All-Star, won nine consecutive Gold Glove Awards as a center fielder and was a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner.

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