Saturday, February 25, 2017

1991-2016 All-Underrated Team: Center Field

I have been watching baseball for 26 years now. In that time, I have been obsessed with under-the-radar players. These are my picks for an All-Underrated Team. I have picked one player for each position and their best season.
This was easily the toughest position to decide on for me.  I could have gone in a number of directions to find someone, but none of the choices were very inspiring.  The biggest problem with this position is that there is a lot of middling choices who were decent at one category, but not much else.  Otis Nixon stole a ton of bases but had non-existent power.  Billy Hatcher was decent hitter, but did not excel on defense.  Lee Tinsley was pretty decent overall.  Ultimately, I went with Darren Bragg in 1997.
I should explain.  Bragg had the highest WAR score of any of the players that I was considering.  He did not have a terribly impressive year at the plate, but it was not much worse from an OPS+ perspective than the other players considered.  Most of them were below average hitters.  What made Bragg special though was that he was an elite defender.  Bragg was a 3.5 WAR player, and he was a 2.2 dWAR player.  He was third in the league in that category.  That is very impressive.  
Among his other defensive numbers, Bragg was second in Total Zone Runs (20), first in assists as a centerfielder (9), fourth in putouts as an outfielder (365), third in range factor, and first in fielding percentage (.994).  Unfortunately, he played the same position as Jim Edmonds, Bernie Williams, and Ken Griffey Jr., all of whom also won the Gold Glove Award.  He did not have the history of the other players and at the time, Gold Glove Awards were all about reputation.  Bragg also spent a significant amount of time playing right field, due to the early experiment with Shane Mack.
Bragg was okay as a hitter.  His line was .257/.337/.386.  He homered nine times and drove in 57 runs.  He did hit 35 doubles, which was a decent number.  He also stole 10 bases.  All told, Bragg was not much of a hitter, but his superior defense made him the choice for the position.  Unfortunately, his light hitting made mostly expendable.  He spent a few seasons with the Red Sox, but 1997 was the only year he was a full-time player.  

Billy Hatcher - 1993 (.287/.336/.400, 9 home runs, 57 RBIs, 14 stolen bases)
Otis Nixon - 1994 (.274/.360/.317, 0 home runs, 25 RBIs, 42 stolen bases)
Lee Tinsley - 1995 (.284/.359/.402, 7 home runs, 41 RBIs, 18 stolen bases)
Darren Lewis - 1998 (.268/.352/.362, 8 home runs, 63 RBIs, 29 stolen bases)

1 comment:

  1. Agreed. Bragg was the first guy I thought of when the title popped up on my blog roll