The center fielder is one of the most exciting position players to watch in baseball. Usually expected to have a combination of speed and arm strength to defend the largest portion of the outfield, they also need to know how to handle the bat. While Mike Trout defines the position for the Angels, not all modern players outshine the past. These are the best center fielders to ever play for their teams in MLB history.
Mike Trout Is The Modern Era’s GOAT
Starting off this list with Mike Trout is a no-brainer. Not only is he the best center fielder the Los Angeles Angels have ever seen, but he can also already be counted as one of the greatest of all-time.
Currently signed to a $426 million contract that makes him an Angel for life, Trout is still under 30-years-old and racking up awards. He’s been named an All-Star eight times, has won three AL MVPs, and seven Silver Sluggers. All that he needs now is to win a World Series.
Kirby Puckett Is A Hero In Minnesota
As the Minnesota Twins all-time leader in hits, choosing him as the team’s best-ever center fielder was an easy choice. He played his entire 12-year career with the Twins and was seen as a leader in the locker room and a legend in the local community.
Puckett’s greatest contribution to the team came in the 1991 World Series when he hit a walk-off home run against the Atlanta Braves to keep the Twins’ hopes alive prompting announcer Joe Buck to say, “And we’ll see you tomorrow night!”
Andruw Jones Won 10 Straight Gold Gloves
The Atlanta Braves were spoiled for 11 seasons with Andruw Jones in center field. Not only was he a monster at the plate, but he was also one of the best defenders of his era. During his career with Atlanta, Jones won a record 10 consecutive Gold Glove Awards.
Jones’ best offensive season came in 2005 when he smacked a team record 51 home runs and drove in 128 runs. Surprisingly, he didn’t win the NL MVP that season, coming in second to Albert Pujols.
Jim Edmonds Transformed St. Louis
Before Jim Edmonds became the starting center fielder, the St. Louis Cardinals experienced 12 straight seasons of 87 or fewer wins. In the eight years he spent there, the team averaged 92 wins per season, a marked improvement.
In 2006, Edmonds helped lead the team to a World Series Championship. He was known for his highlight-reel catches and incredible power behind the plate. We can’t think of a better CF in team history. Can you?
Andrew McCutchen Snapped Pittsburgh’s Historic Losing Streak
Coming up with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009, it didn’t take long for Andrew McCutchen to turn the team’s bad luck around. In his fourth year in the Steel City, the Pirates made the playoffs, breaking a streak of 20 straight losing seasons. McCutchen, for his contributions, was named the NL MVP.
In 2014, McCutchen again led the team to the playoffs and placed second in NL MVP voting. His success continued, but by 2018, the Pirates could no longer afford his services and traded him to the San Francisco Giants.
Willie Mays Led The Giants Transition From New York To San Francisco
Willie Mays played 21 of his 22 professional seasons for the Giants beginning in 1951. When the team moved from New York to San Francisco in 1958, Mays was there to help lead the transition.
During his career, Mays won 12 Gold Glove Awards and two NL MVPs. Even though he played his final MLB season as a New York Met, the “Say Hey Kid” will always be remembered as a “Forever Giant.” He retired with over 3,000 hits and 660 home runs.
Charlie Blackmon Came Out Of Nowhere In Colorado
Today he may be known as “Chuck Nasty” by Colorado Rockies fans, but when he was first called up to the team in 2011, no one knew his full potential. In 2014, the legend of Charlie Blackmon began when he notched six hits in one game from the lead-off spot in the batting order.
Since then, Blackmon has been a revelation for the Rockies, both behind the plate and in the outfield. In 2018, the star signed a six-year, $108 million extension with the team, ensuring he would be a Rocky for life.
Hack Wilson Is The RBI King
One of the oldest players you’ll find on this list, Hack Wilson spent five seasons with the Chicago Cubs from 1926 until 1931. In 1930, Wilson drove in 191 runs, an MLB record that still stands today.
From 1927 through 1930, Wilson averaged 39 home runs and 150 RBIs. After earning his place in Cubs’ history, Wilson played for the Dodgers and Phillies before calling it a career. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.
Juan Pierre Paced The Marlins In 2003
When Juan Pierre was traded to the Florida Marlins (now Miami Marlins) in 2003 from the Rockies, he made an instant impact. A daring outfielder with blazing speed, Pierre led with his legs, stealing hits and bases.
In that first season in Florida, Pierre hit .305 and stole a team record 65 bases. The Marlins became the sleeper team of the postseason, winning the NL Pennant and then the World Series.
Ken Griffey Jr. Played His Best Ball In Seattle
Ken Griffey Jr. played the first 11 years of his career as a Seattle Mariner. In that time, he was a 10-time all-star and 10-time Gold Glove Award winner. He was named the AL MVP in 1997 when he went on a tear, hitting 56 home runs and driving in 147 runs.
Four times as a Mariner, Griffey Jr. led the American League in home runs. When it came time for the BBWAA to vote him into the Hall of Fame, he was a shoo-in and was listed on 99.3 percent of ballots.
Ty Cobb Was “A Genius In Spikes”
Over the course of his 22-year career with the Tigers, Ty Cobb earned the title “A Genius in Spikes.” He retired in 1926 with 4,189 hits, 2,245 runs scored, and an MLB record .366 batting average.
As far as sabermetrics are concerned, Cobb ended his illustrious career with a 149.3 fWAR, placing him fourth all-time behind Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, and Babe Ruth. If you ever visit Comerica Park, you will be greeted by a bronze statue of the Tigers’ legend.
Mickey Mantle Made The Yankees Unstoppable
Mickey Mantle was a three-time Most Valuable Player and seven-time World Series Champion by the time he retired. As far as New York Yankees players go, he might be the greatest to ever don the pinstripes.
Mantle spent 14 seasons with the Yankees, leading the team to 12 American League Pennants. He retired from the game with 536 career home runs. In 1956, he became one of a select few players win the MLB Triple Crown, leading the league in batting average, home runs, and RBIs.
Adam Jones Was The Beating Heart Of Baltimore
After Cal Ripken Jr. retired, it took the Baltimore Orioles a long time to find a new franchise star. In 2008, that star emerged, and his name was Adam Jones. Jones led a resurgence for the Orioles that turned the team into an AL East power.
Jones played 11 seasons in Baltimore, was the leader of the clubhouse, and by all accounts from former teammates, the heartbeat of the team. Now in his late 30s, Jones has taken his talents overseas and plays in Japan.
Kevin Kiermaier Might Be A Lifetime Ray
Making his debut for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013, Kevin Kiermaier surprisingly still plays for the team today. Usually, players of his caliber price themselves out of the small market club’s budget.
A three-time Gold Glove winner known more for his defense then his bat, Kiermaier has a career 25.7 bWAR, ranking him fourth in franchise history. In 2017, he signed a six-year, $53 million extension with the Rays that should keep him in Florida until he retires.
Amos Otis Has The Approval Of Frank White
From 1970 until 1983, Amos Otis prowled center field for the Kansas City Royals. Overshadowed by George Brett, former Royals second Baseman Frank White had this to say:
“When people ask me about the guys I played with, they will say, ‘George Brett is the greatest hitter in Kansas City history.’ And I agree with that. But as far as a player, if you judge him in every facet of the game, this guy here [Amos Otis] is the best player who ever played for the Kansas City Royals.”
Dwayne Murphy Was Feared In Oakland
Creating a one-two punch at the top of the Oakland A’s lineup with Rickey Henderson, Dwayne Murphy was a feared man. In 11 seasons with the A’s, he won six Gold Gloves and numerous other accolades.
Murphy was pretty good behind the plate, too. In 1984 he set the Oakland single-season home run record for a center fielder with 34. His 31.7 bWAR with the team is the highest ever all-time for outfielders.
Carlos Beltran Was Special In New York
Although today he is most famous for his incredibly short tenure as the manager of the New York Mets, Carlos Beltran was also a sensational player who spent his career chasing a ring. When he played with the Mets, Beltran was at the top of his game and accumulated a 31.1 WAR.
When he left the Mets, his abilities began to decline and he eventually helped run a sign-stealing ring in Houston. Despite the shame that brought to his name, we cannot deny just how sensational he was in his prime with the Mets.
Steve Finley Unlocked His Magic In Arizona
Steve Finley played for the Arizona Diamondbacks from 1999 until 2004. In that span, he won two Gold Glove Awards and a World Series Championship. And during that title run, he hit a monstrous .365.
Before playing for the D-Backs, Finley was a San Diego Padre, where he was also an offensive and defensive power. In his final season with the Friars, Finally helped lead the team to the World Series, where they got swept by the New York Yankees.
Duke Snider Was A Homer Machine For The Dodgers
A 16-year pro with the Brooklyn-Los Angeles Dodgers, all Duke Snider ever did was crush home runs. During his career with the team, he posted three consecutive seasons with an OPS over 1.000.
Snider also hit 40 home runs in five seasons, while also having five seasons scoring and driving in 100 runs. Although his name today gets lost in the shuffle of other Dodger greats, he deserves to be remembered right alongside them for his brilliant contributions to the team.
Andre Dawson Captured The Outs In Montreal
Andre Dawson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010, thanks in no small part for the 11 seasons he spent patrolling center field for the Montreal Expos (now Washington Nationals). Dawson was named Rookie of the Year in 1977, and after that, the awards just kept coming.
From 1980 to 1985, Dawson won six straight Gold Glove Awards and was named an All-Star three times. Currently, he is ranked top five in team history for doubles, run, RBIs, stolen bases, hit, and games played.