A.L. East mid-season review: Center Field

Adam Jones stands alone among AL East CF, but there's company nearby. - Elsa

Five American League East center fielders entered this season with starting jobs locked down. Two have already lost those jobs, one isn't quite worth the money he's being paid, and two are doing well. It's time for a mid-season review.

Back in March, Camden Chat took a look at the state of center field in the American League East. Let's take a look at those pre-season rankings and where the starting CF in the AL East stack up at the All-Star Break.

Stats will include all at-bats and WAR and dWAR will include all positions played.

5) Toronto Blue Jays - Colby Rasmus (CC projected #3 CF in ALE)

Colby Rasmus was the incumbent coming into the season, but has seen just 59 games of action due to injury and now ineffectiveness. He missed more than a month between mid-May and mid-June due to a hamstring injury. He's been putrid since he returned, batting just .191 since coming off the disabled list and as now being platooned by Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, who probably threatens to fight him after every game Rasmus takes an 0-fer. Anthony Gose got most of the time in CF while Rasmus was gone, and he wasn't any better, batting just .225 during the five weeks Rasmus was gone. Gibbons will now try Darin Mastroianni, who is himself hitting .167 on the season. Any value Rasmus has earned this season was earned before May 15. The Blue Jays have no easy answers at CF and it may just get worse.

TORONTO

PA

AB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

WAR (dWAR)

Colby Rasmus

218

203

.212

.266

.453

.719

94

-0.3 (-0.8)

Anthony Gose

132

112

.232

.333

.286

.619

73

0.4 (0.5)

Darin Mastroianni

30

30

167

.167

.267

.433

17

-0.1 (0.1)

4) Boston Red Sox - Jackie Bradley Jr. / Grady Sizemore (JBJ was the CC projected #5 CF in ALE)

The Grady Sizemore experiment lasted all of 52 games in Boston, and there's a reason he's in Philadelphia now. Sizemore stunk out loud in Boston at the plate and in the field. Now the job is now Jackie Bradley Jr.'s to lose. And he's trying to. And while his defense is pretty darn good (+7 runs above average in Total Zone fielding for 697.2 innings, much better than Sizemore's -2 in 120.1 innings), it's pretty much all of his value. He's a 1.5 WAR player for 2014, and it's not for his bat. Letting Jacoby Ellsbury go this past off-season is looking like a bad move for the Red Sox in the short-term, and an expensive one in the long-term if they are forced to sign a high-priced vet if JBJ proves out of his depth. And yet, as we will see, Ellsbury's contract might end up also hamstringing the Yankees, and sooner rather than later. How delicious.

BOSTON

PA

AB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

WAR (dWAR)

Jackie Bradley Jr.

306

273

.227

.305

.311

.616

73

1.5 (1.6)

Grady Sizemore*

295

268

.224

.285

.422

.706

69

0.0 (-0.0)

*with Boston only

3) New York Yankees - Jacoby Ellsbury (CC projected #2 CF in ALE)

They may be losing starting pitchers like cheap pens without a chain at the bank, but the Yankees haven't had to sweat who is going to play center field this year. They might wish they had chosen a cheaper option, though. Jacoby Ellsbury's offense is down, as all four slash numbers have taken a bit of a dip from last year. Don't get me wrong, Ellsbury is still a slightly-above average bat and a just slightly below-average fielder. He's still on track for not quite 50 stolen bases on the season and his SLG sits at a not-embarrassing .400. Still, the Yankees must be thinking they paid for more than this when they signed Ellsbury to that seven year, $153 million deal this off-season. Like it or not, fans of the Evil Empire, he's probably on the Yankees until that deal runs out in 2020.

NEW YORK

PA

AB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

WAR (dWAR)

Jacoby Ellsbury

397

355

.282

.346

.400

.746

108

1.8 (-0.2)

2) Tampa Bay Rays - Desmond Jennings (CC projected #4 CF in ALE)

Desmond Jennings is a 3.3 WAR player for 2014. Who saw that coming? Now, of that 3.3 WAR, about one-third of it is his defense (1.3 dWAR). His offense makes him just slightly average at the plate, but the lift he gets from his defense makes him a pretty good option for the cost-conscious Rays. He's taken just about all the playing time in CF for Tampa, playing all but five of Tampa's 95 games played thus far there. Much like Fight Club's narrator, Tampa Bay may have problems, but no matter what goes wrong, at least you've got your center field issue handled.

TAMPA BAY

PA

AB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

WAR (dWAR)

Desmond Jennings

391

339

.244

.335

.389

.724

106

3.3 (1.3)

1) Baltimore Orioles - Adam Jones (CC projected #1 CF in ALE)

Sure hope no one is bemoaning that contract extension Adam Jones signed before the 2012 season now. For $91 million through the 2018 season, Mr. Jones is putting up All-Star numbers on a consistent basis and is hitting a little more for average this season without a  real loss of power. Will he ever take enough walks to stop us from complaining? Of course not. But he has become a better defender (notice he's setting up just a tad bit deeper this year?) and he's just two points shy right now of his career best OPS+ plateau. Adam Jones will most likely never have that monster 145 OPS+ season and I doubt he'll ever reach 50 home runs, but we are talking about a batter who's #4 in the A.L. in hits, #5 in total bases, #7 in singles and #10 among position players in WAR. He's on course to bat above .300 for the first time in his career, and is also putting up a positive dWAR for a second year in a row. We're seeing a really, really good player enter his prime. Let's hope the O's don't waste it.

BALTIMORE

PA

AB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

WAR (dWAR)

Adam Jones

407

385

.301

.324

.486

.810

123

3.4 (0.7)

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