2016 AL East Rankings by Position: Center Field

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Adam Jones
Sep 13, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones (10) RBI single during the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles won 8-2. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

Our series on the AL East rankings by position takes us back up the middle, where we have the division’s center fielders.

As a reminder, just a few points about these rankings:

  • I love being able to discuss these rankings. I don’t claim to know everything about the AL East, but I tried to be as impartial as possible. If you disagree, let me have it!
  • We are primarily focusing on the player projected to start at the position, but if it is close, the backup will be looked at. Center field is one position where the backup may be someone different from those at the corner outfield position, but for the most part these starters are firmly entrenched in their positions.

Let’s first take a look at last year’s preseason rankings: 1 – Baltimore, 2 – New York, 3 – Boston, 4 – Tampa Bay, 5 – Toronto.

But, then Mookie Betts, Kevin Pillar and Kevin Kiermaier broke out, and pushed veteran and injured Jacoby Ellsbury all the way to the bottom. And, none of those three look like flashes in the pan, by any stretch of the imagination.

By the end of the year, the rankings looked a little different: 1 – Baltimore, 2 – Boston, 3 – Toronto, 4 – Tampa Bay, 5 – New York.

So, will Adam Jones keep his reign on the top spot? Let’s get to it.


  1. Baltimore Orioles – Adam Jones, Joey Rickard, Dariel Alvarez, LJ Hoes

When your number one from the beginning of last year ends up as the number one at the end of the year, there is really no need to change anything. Sure, Pillar and Kiermaier both had breakout years, both playing absolutely fantastic defense and providing more offense than could have been expected. But, I don’t think that one season should put either of them past the five-time All-Star Adam Jones.

Jones did have a bit of a down year in 2015. He battled numerous injuries down the stretch and only played in 137 games. In those games, he hit .269/.308/.474 with 27 HRs, 25 2Bs, 82 RBIs, 74 runs, and 102 strike outs. Jones began the year on fire at the plate, he was more selective and was striking out less. As the season wore on, he reverted back to his typical free-swinging form, however.

Jones continues to be an enigma defensively. He rates out as a pretty bad defender but has won three straight Gold Gloves. And unlike All-Star game nods, the Gold Glove is given to players who typically deserve it. Sure, he plays way too shallow and has to run back on balls, but Jones covers a ton of ground. Jones does rate as having the second-best range/9 innings among OFs for active players, behind only Carlos Gomez. So while the metrics don’t look great, the defensive stats do.

For those who think either of the young stars should be ahead of him, answer this: Contracts being equal, would you trade your Pillar or your Kiermaier for Adam Jones? I’m pretty sure everyone would answer yes. As long as everything goes right for the Orioles, Jones will make most of (if not all) the starts in center field. Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard could spell Jones if he is kept, if not the team might have to get creative to replace Jones, likely using Nolan Reimold, as both Alvarez and Hoes likely will not make the roster. One other option the team continues to discuss is Dexter Fowler, who would likely start in right field and backup Jones in center.

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