Throughout the history of the MLB, the Center Fielders have seen some of the greatest players of all time, from Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle to Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Trout. This list will rank the top five center fielders of all time and explain why they rank where they rank.
5. Ty Cobb
If this list were about the quality of the human being, Ty Cobb would be nowhere near number five all time, but as a baseball player, he deserves every right to be ranked this high. He has the highest career batting average in the history of the MLB, with a .366.
He also won 12 career batting titles while also batting over .400 three times. He also led the league in stolen bases five times and had tremendous speed defensively in center field.
Ty Cobb was also the MLB’s hit king with 4,189 until Pete Rose broke his record almost half a century later. Cobb was the greatest player of his era, which was just before Babe Ruth revolutionized the game.
4. Mike Trout
The only active player on this list; if Trout can stay healthy, he can easily see himself higher on this list in years to come. In his first 12 seasons, Mike Trout has already won three MVPs and second four times.
He has 350 career home runs, over 1,000 total runs, over a .300 career batting average, over 850 RBIs, and an insane 1.002 OPS, which ranks 11th all-time and first amongst center fielders. Trout has one of the greatest combinations of power, contact, and vision of all time.
He has led the league in walks three times and OBP four times. He also has tremendous speed leading the league his second year with 49 and has a career total of 204. When it is all said and done, I would assume Trout will be number one on this list, but for now, he comes in at four.
3. Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle dealt with injuries during his career, but when he was healthy, he was just as good as anyone. He won three MVPs and led the league in home runs four times while also combining that power with blazing speed and defense.
He also led the league in runs five times, OBP three times, and OPS six times. Mantle was also one of the greatest switch hitters of all time, having power from both sides of the plate.
Mantle also helped the New York Yankees win seven World Series and totaled 18 World Series Home Runs which is the most of all time. Mantle also led the league in walks five times.
2. Ken Griffey Jr.
If it wasn’t for injuries, Griffey could easily be number one on this list, but even with a shorter prime than most, it was special, and that is why he ranks as the second-best center fielder of all time. Griffey was the ultimate five-tool player and had the smoothest swing of all time.
Griffey led the league in home runs three times despite being in the steroid era without using steroids himself. He also won 10 gold gloves and might be the greatest defensive center fielder of all time.
Griffey totaled 630 career home runs, over 500 doubles, and over 1,800 RBIs, all of which could have been higher without injury. Griffey also had one of the strongest arms in the outfield, which made him the complete defender.
1. Willie Mays
Willie Mays had a similar career to Griffey, as his career number could have been way higher, but he lost out on stats to serve his country. Mays still managed to have 660 career home runs, 3,293 hits, and 525 doubles.
Mays also may be the greatest defensive center fielder of all time, as he won 12 career gold gloves. Mays’ arm is probably the strongest ever at the position, as everyone remembers his famous basket catch and throw in the Polo Grounds.
Mays also had tremendous speed as he led the league in steals four times; his power was also otherworldly, leading the league in home runs four times. Mays would add two MVPs and a World Series to complete his legacy as the greatest center fielder of all time.