In baseball, center field is one of the three critical defensive positions on the field. In fantasy baseball, all that matters is what they can do on offense. In 2009, only four center fielders reached an .800 OPS and none eclipsed .900. However, 13 center fielders stole at least 20 bases, making the position a great source of speed numbers. The top 2010 fantasy baseball center fielders are lacking in power threats, but rich in speedsters.
1. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
Matt Kemp continues to improve as a Major League player and is becoming a great fantasy baseball center fielder. In 2009, Kemp combined strong power numbers with strong speed numbers, hitting 26 home runs and driving in 101 RBI while stealing 34 bases. Kemp hit .297 and scored 97 runs. He has is becoming a complete all-around offensive player and a top 2010 fantasy baseball center fielder.
2. Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Torii Hunter has long been one of the best all-around center fielders in the game. In fantasy baseball, Hunter can be relied upon for 20-plus home runs and 15 to 20 stolen bases per year while holding his own in RBI and runs scored. His 2009 totals included 22 home runs, 90 RBI, 74 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, and a career high .299 batting average.
3. Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians
Grady Sizemore had a mediocre 2009 season while struggling through elbow issues, but after offseason surgery, he will look to return to the top of the center fielder rankings. In 2007 and 2008, Sizemore was a 25-35 home run, 100 run, 100 RBI, and 30-plus stolen base threat. In an injury-shortened 2009, he hit 18 home runs and stole 13 bases while hitting just .248 in 436 at-bats. If he is healthy, Sizemore has the ability to be the top 2010 fantasy baseball center fielder.
4. Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees
Curtis Granderson has seen his offensive production decline in each of the last three seasons. His OPS dropped from .913 in 2007 to .858 in 2008 and .780 in 2009. However, joining New York’s lineup and being a left-handed hitter in the Yankees’ launching pad stadium will give Granderson some advantages to revive his bat. Despite hitting just .249 with 71 RBI, Granderson did hit a career high 30 home runs in 2009 and he is a good bet to repeat that performance in Yankee Stadium in 2010.
Tie-5. Mike Cameron, Boston Red Sox
Mike Cameron is reliable for 20-plus home runs and 70-plus RBI – plateaus he has reached in each of his last four seasons and in seven of the last nine years. His batting average is nothing to write home about, sitting at .250 last year and .250 for his career as well. However, leaving the National League and joining Boston’s offense should give Cameron increased run producing opportunities. On the base paths, time may be catching up with Cameron’s legs as 2009 was the first of his 13 seasons in which he didn’t steal double digit bases.
Tie-5. Michael Bourn, Houston Astros
The majority of Michael Bourn’s fantasy value is tied up in his speed and he has plenty of it. In 2009, Bourn stole 61 bases, the second highest total in baseball and most in the NL. This followed a 41 stolen base 2008 in 150 fewer plate appearances. Bourn increased his average from .229 to .285, his OPS from .588 to .738, and his runs scored from 57 to 97. As the Astros fulltime leadoff hitter, Bourn has real value as a 2010 fantasy baseball center fielder.