The National League West Has Center Field Talent

By R.J. Anderson //

The National League West is usually one of baseball’s tightest divisions. This season, it’s producing some interesting seasons from the center field position. Here is a rundown with the order based on the team name:

Diamondbacks – Chris Young

Young has started in center every game except one for Arizona this season and the usual caveats are still in play. Young will provide power (he already has eight home runs in a little under 200 plate appearances) at the expense of batting average (.225) and strikeouts (21.2 percent of his plate appearances). A higher percentage of Young’s hits and plate appearances are ending with extra bases, but his walk-to-strikeout rate is also at its worst since 2007.

Dodgers – Matt Kemp

Kemp has done Young one better by starting every game for the Dodgers. Because Kemp debuted at age 21, it’s easy to forget that he is only 26-years-old. Right now, he is in the midst of a ridiculous season, hitting .321/.404/.528 with 12 stolen bases (he stole 19 last season) and eight home runs. Kemp’s walks are up, his strikeouts are down, and the increase in singles is boosting his average. He is a surefire keeper.

Giants – Andres Torres

After a shocking 2010 season, Torres has missed most of the 2011 campaign due to injury. When he has played, he continues to hit well–.308/.379/.500. The danger in acquiring Torres is buying high via trade. Torres is unlikely to produce at that rate for too long, even if he managed to do so for 170 plate appearances in 2009. If Torres is available on the free agency market, grab him, otherwise stick to laurels when it comes to his value.

Padres – Cameron Maybin

One of the better stories in baseball this season, Maybin is hitting .273/.345/.440 after being acquired in an offseason deal. The Padres bought low and it’s paying off, as some nights he looks to be their best player. In nearly half the plate appearances as last season, Maybin already has roughly as many doubles, triples, home runs, stolen bases, and walks. If he is available, grab him. This could be the tip of the iceberg.

Rockies – Dexter Fowler

If your league values on-base percentage, then Fowler is unlikely to be available. His OBP is over .370 thanks to a walk rate near 15 percent. Unfortunately, Fowler’s strikeouts are up too, hence why his batting average is down despite good success on balls in play (a .374 BABIP versus .340 career).

This is one of those divisions and positions where every starting player is worth owning. If one of these five players is available in your league, scoop him up.

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