Baseball Center Fielder
The center fielder is the defensive player (specifically, an outfielder) who is in charge of fielding baseballs that are hit into center field. He covers everything from shallow center field to the outfield fence, and from left-center field to right-center field. Since his coverage is so large, center fielders must be fast runners.
Since the outfield fence is typically the deepest/farthest distance from home plate, center fielders have a lot of ground to cover. They must be fast runners and have a strong throwing arm to be able to throw the ball from the deepest parts of the outfield, back into the infield.
If you look at outfielders standing in their positions, you will notice they do not all stand in a straight, horizontal line across the outfield. Instead, the center fielder usually stands deeper, or farther from home plate, than the other outfielders. This is because center field is usually the deepest part of the field, and center fielders must adjust themselves accordingly. Once again, it is important that center fielders are speedy runners and strong throwers because they cover so much ground and are far from the bases.
Role and Responsibilities
Center fielders are responsible for being the captains of the outfield. They need to be able to position themselves as well as their outfield teammates. They have priority on fly balls. For example, if a fly ball is hit in the outfield and the right fielder and center fielder both call for the ball, the center fielder has priority to call off the right fielder. Center fielders are also responsible for backing up their fellow outfielders. When the ball is hit to left field, the center fielder should run to back up the left fielder in case the ball gets past.
Offensively, the center fielder should be able to produce. Most commonly, center fielders are contact hitters, hitting mostly singles and doubles.
Speed is a key skill for center fielders to have. They need to be able to cover a massive amount of field in the outfield, but this is also helpful on the basepaths. Having speed gives center fielders the ability to beat out ground balls and steal bases.
Types of Center Fielders
There is no singular type of center fielder, each has their own skills, strengths, as well as weaknesses. Some of the most common and best types of center fielders include, 5-tool center fielder, a defensive specialist, speedsters, and offensive-focused center fielders.
5-Tool Center Fielder
The five tools of baseball are speed, power hitting, contact hitting, fielding, and throwing ability. It is rare to find players that possess all 5 tools at a high level. A center fielder with all five tools will be productive at every part of the game and are some of the most impressive talents of all time. Examples include Hall of Famer Willie Mays, and current MLB superstar Mike Trout.
A defensive specialist center fielder is definitely a better fielder than hitter. This type of player has the ability to read the ball very well off the bat and get a great first step. Defensive specialists are fast, smart, and are always in the right place at the right time. They do not make errors often, have strong arms, and are known to make highlight reel plays.
An example is Jim Edmonds, who won 8 gold gloves in 9 years, but only had a .284 batting average over his career.
Some center fielders simply are put in the position because they are fast. This means they have the ability to cover lots of ground in the outfield but are also threats on the basepaths. However, these players may not be the best hitter or have the strongest arms. A great example of a speedster is MLB center fielder Billy Hamilton.
Offensive-focused center fielders are definitely a rare type of player. This player still has a decent ability to field the ball and play the center field position. However, they are definitely more talented when it comes to hitting. They will have good power at the plate, but also are capable of hitting for contact.
Center Fielder Equipment
A center fielder does not have much equipment that is specific to them. They need the team's uniform, including a jersey, pants, cleats, and a hat. Center fielders do need a large glove, as do all outfielders. It's recommended that outfielders older than 14 use a glove that is 12 inches or larger. Another recommendation for outfielders is sunglasses. Trying to track down fly balls can be very hard with the sun in your eyes.
Center Fielder History
Center field has always been one of the most important positions on the baseball field. Legends like Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, and Joe Dimaggio popularized the position.
Center Fielder Statistics
Center fielders should have solid statistics in the following categories:
- AVG (Batting Average)
- XBH (Extra Base Hits)
- OBP (On Base Percentage)
- FPCT (Fielding Percentage)
- DWAR (Defensive War)
Center Fielder Strategy
A center fielder needs to be one of the most aware players on the team. He needs to understand the tendencies of each hitter, and position the outfield accordingly. For stronger hitters, it is likely that the center fielder will play deeper. If a player has a tendency to hit to one side of the field or another, the center fielder may shade towards that side. Also just depending on the situation, the center fielder will move around to give himself an advantage.
Center Fielder Skills and Techniques
Center fielders need many skills to be able to play their position well. They need to be able to catch well, throw strongly, run quickly, read the ball accurately, and hit consistently. There is no specific list of skills that will turn someone into a good center fielder, but overall a center fielder needs to be well rounded.
Playing center field requires extensive practice and an understanding of how the ball leaves the bat. A skill that will set center fielders apart is their ability to get a jump on the ball.
Hall of Fame Center Fielders
The following lists some of the most famous center fielders of all time in baseball that have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Top MLB Center Fielders
The following lists some of the top center fielders in Major League Baseball by team:
|Mike Trout||Los Angeles Angels|
|Mookie Betts||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Starling Marte||Arizona Diamondbacks|
|George Springer||Houston Astros|
|Charlie Blackmon||Colorado Rockies|
What is a Center Fielder in baseball?
A center fielder is the player that plays in the middle of the outfield. He is the captain of the outfield and is responsible for positioning himself and the other outfielders.
What does a Center Fielder do in baseball?
A center fielder catches fly balls and linedrives, fields balls that may get through the infield, and backs up his teammates. A center fielder also needs to produce offensively and is a threat on the basepaths.
What are the types of Center Fielders in baseball?
Some types of center fielders in include:
- 5-Tool Center Fielder
- Defensive Specialist
- Offensive Focused