While the Cleveland Indians will be looking to add depth to left and right field, they have three very capable center fielders they must decide how to utilize.
We won’t have to look very far to see who will be flying around center field for the Cleveland Indians in 2019. The Tribe boasts three CFs, all of which have different abilities they bring to the table. Leonys Martin, Greg Allen, and Bradley Zimmer are all gunning for the right to be the Indians starting center fielder.
There really isn’t a clear-cut favorite, but it will be interesting if the Indians utilize two bench spots for centerfielders (or if they try them in other outfield positions.) Oh, they have Jason Kipnis too, but I wouldn’t put him in this conversation… but what do I know?
ANYHOW, it’s going to be an intriguing battle to watch. While Bradley Zimmer will be at a bit of a disadvantage due to the injury that sidelined him for nearly half the year. When he was playing he wasn’t showing as much progress as we’d like to see.
That’s where we will start. Zimmer was still his acrobatic-self last year and he played remarkable defense. But his plate production was down from his rookie year. While he played significantly fewer games, Zimmer’s offensive WAR dropped to -4.0, making him feel like a liability at the plate. Zimmer’s high-flying stunts in the outfield were impressive, but they also played into his injury.
Greg Allen brings about the same amount of speed as Zimmer. He will get a head start due to his health and has a chance to build off a solid 2018 season. His defense isn’t as flashy, but he made some remarkable plays to get the job done in CF. He’s become a fan-favorite due to his flashiness on the basepath and when coupled with the other Indians speedsters, can cause headaches for opposing catchers.
Allen is also slightly stronger at the plate than Zimmer, and while his numbers won’t “wow” you, it’s worth noting. Zimmer does, however, have the best average of the three against LHP.
As for Leonys Martin, he played really well in Cleveland before being deactivated due to a life-threatening infection. But he’s back with the team and looks to be ready for the 2019 season. He played pretty well defensively last year and brings the most experience to the table out of this group. He will likely duel it out with Greg Allen in spring training for the right to start in center field.
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With three capable outfielders, I see it as a very strong possibility for the Indians to have a rotation at the position. Unless there is a clear-cut favorite, I could see each player splitting starts well int the season.