We turn now to center fielders as we continue our ongoing series wherein we seek out the best players of all time at each position using the preposterous method of randomly googling the first top-10 lists we can find at that position and adding up the rankings.
As in the past, the rankings are on a 1000-point scale which was derived by simply subtracting each player’s ranking in the top 10 of each list from 101, such that a 1st place ranking would be worth 100 points and a 10th place ranking would be worth 91 points, and then adding up the total for all lists.
So without further ado, here are the top then center fielders of all time, according to the collective wisdom of the internets (first place rankings in parentheses, *=HOF
1. *Willie Mays – 995 (6)
2. *Ty Cobb – 986 (3)
3. *Mickey Mantle – 975
4. *Joe DiMaggio – 964 (1)
5. *Tris Speaker – 959
6. Ken Griffey Jr. – 957
7. *Duke Snider – 935
8. *Oscar Charleston – 473
9. *Kirby Puckett – 462
10. *Billy Hamilton – 460
Compared to other positions, there was a rather overwhelming consensus on who the top center fielders of all time are. Amazingly the top 7 players on the list all appeared in the top 10 on all ten lists. There was a big drop off in rating between the #7 and #8 players, but overall there was still a strong agreement on who the top 10 should be across most lists, as the dropoff between #10 and #11 was also large.
Once again, this unlikely method has produced solid results. I think few would question that the top 4 are some mix of Mays, Cobb, Mantle, and DiMaggio. I happen to think this method got the order exactly right.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Negro Leagues superstar Oscar Charleston and 19th century phenom Sliding Billy Hamilton get ranked as highly as they did, but I think both are obvious choices for the top 10.
Center field is a glamorous position and one of the best-represented in the Hall, so altogether 22 players made the top 10 on at least one list. As usual, I don’t really vouch for the accuracy of the ratings after the top 10 spots, because people seem really apt to toss in a slightly unworthy personal favorite in the number 10 spot on their lists, but here are the rest of the best:
11. Jim Edmonds – 191
12. *Cool Papa Bell – 183
13. *Larry Doby – 182
14. *Max Carey – 94
15. *Earl Averill – 93.89
16. *Hack Wilson – 93.37
17. Bernie Williams – 93.33
18. Dale Murphy – 91.88
19. Andruw Jones – 91.80
20. *Richie Ashburn – 91.39
21. *Earle Combs – 91.31
22. *Cristobal Torriente – 91.00
And finally, here are the lists that turned up first in a random google search and were used to compile these rankings:
“Top 50 Center Fielders of All-Time” (TheBaseballPage.com)
“20 Greatest Center Fielders in MLB History” (ShareRanks.com)
“MLB’s 10 Greatest Center Fielders of All Time” (Bleacher Report)
“Prime Nine – Top Center Fielders” (mlb.tv)
“The Top Ten List: Center Fielders” (Ottawa Hockey League)
“Greatest Center Fielders Ever” (Baseball Fever)
“Greatest Player by Position: Round 8” (Baseball Fever)
“Top ten by position: round 7” (Baseball Fever)
“Center Field: The Top 10” (Answers.com)
“TOP 10 Center Fielders of all time” (Here Come the Cubs)