- The best center fielders of all time have left marks that cannot be removed in the baseball world.
- Center fielders play a significant role in any baseball match as they are the ones who have the most ground to cover in the outfield.
- They play a defensive position and have to be the fastest of the three outfielders.
Who is the best center fielder of all time in the MLB? This is a question that may be challenging to even those who have supported baseball for many years.
To begin with, all baseball fans can agree that center fielders play a massive role on the field. In most parks, they are the ones who have the most ground to cover in the outfield.
Center fielders are often the fastest of the three outfielders. They are also the leading power hitter in the team in most cases. To no surprise, there are several batting champs and Gold Glove winners on the list. Without further ado, let’s look at the best center fielders of all time in the MLB.
1. Willie Mays
Willie Mays, popularly known as “The Say Hey Kid”, is, without a doubt, one of the greatest center fielders in history. In fact, some consider him the best center fielder of all time.
Mays played for 22 years, bagging several accolades, including Rookie of the Year in 1951 and MVP awards in 1954 and 1965. The American is a 24-time All-Star and holder of 12 consecutive Gold Gloves Awards. The 91-year-old was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. He has a Presidential Medal of Freedom presented to him by Barrack Obama in 2015.
2. Ty Cobb
Ty Cobb was born on December 18, 1886, and passed away on July 17, 1961. Nicknamed “the Georgia Peach”, Cobb spent 22 seasons with the Detroit Pistons and was a player-manager in his last six seasons with the MLB club.
The American was one of the most aggressive players of his time, and some argue that he should be regarded as the best center fielder of all time.
Cobb finished his career with 4,198 hits, which is still the second-most highest in the history of the MLB. He is widely credited with setting 90 MLB records during his career. By the end of the 2022 season, he still holds several records, including the most career batting titles (11) and the highest career batting average (0.366).
3. Mickey Mantle
Nicknamed “the Commerce Comet” and “the Mick”, Mickey Mantle was a baseball player who spent his entire career playing for the New York Yankees. Besides playing as a center fielder, Mickey also played as a right fielder and first baseman.
The American has been named the greatest switch hitter in baseball history, and some rate him as the best center fielder of all time of the Yankees. The 16-time All-Star player was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.
4. Dexter Fowler
Dexter Fowler, born on March 22, 1986, is a former baseball player who spent his career playing for the Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Angels. Some Chicago Cubs fans consider Fowler the best fielder to ever play for the club.
The 36-year-old was named an All-Star in 2016, and some of his records include 775 (OPS) On Base Plus Slugging, 417 (SLG) Slugging Percentage and 358 OBP (On Base Percentage). Besides Charlie Blackmon, Dexter is also the only player to exceed 2,000 plate appearances as a center fielder.
5. Tris Speaker
Tris Speaker was born on April 4, 1888, but he, unfortunately, passed away on December 8, 1958. The legend has been named one of the best center fielders in the history of the Red Sox. He played for the MLB club between 1907 and 1915.
Speaker compiled a career batting average of 0. 345, which is sixth all-time. Defensively, he holds records for double plays, assists and unassisted double plays by an outfielder. The skilful baseballer was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1937 in its second year of voting.
In 1999, The Sporting News ranked him number 27 on their list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players. Immediately after his death, the baseball field at the city park in Cleburne, Texas, was renamed in his honour.