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 Post subject: Center fielders' arms
PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2005 3:35 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2003 1:01 am
Posts: 741
Location: The Empire State
The knock on Bernie Williams and Johnny Damon is that they have weak arms, the implication being that all center fielders have great arms.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of a single American League center fielder who has a cannon for an arm and who is known as a fielder baserunners don't dare run on.

Any of my TCE confreres (and consoeurs) know of a National League center fielder (or an American Leaguer whom I've overlooked) whose arm inspires fear in the opposition?


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2005 10:00 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2004 12:01 am
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Location: Champaign, Ill.
Jim Edmonds. His timing and charges at base hits up the middle and sacrifice flies (along with several failed attempts by baserunners who had the balls to test him) mean very few attempt to score.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2005 12:00 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 12:46 am
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Location: Conn. -- hence the name
Andruw Jones of the Braves has a cannon.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2005 1:43 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2005 6:47 pm
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Location: Washington
Carlos Beltran of the Mets, Torii Hunter of the Twins, Mark Kotsay of the A's, Vernon Wells of the Blue Jays and Coco Crisp of the Indians (not a cannon, but well above average) come to mind.

Ken Griffey Jr., while lacking range, still has a strong arm, as does Brad Wilkerson, traded by the Nationals recently to the Rangers. I'm pretty impressed with Rockies rookie Cory Sullivan, and Milton Bradley, late of the Dodgers, has a good arm — more accurate than strong, as does Jason Ellison of the Giants and Luis Matos of the Orioles.

A lot of these guys get overlooked because it's a popular perception that guys with cannon arms should have cannon bats, and some of the best center-field defenders in baseball have either low-to-mid-range power or have trouble sustaining a good batting average and thus have trouble staying in the lineup.

But of the five guys I mentioned, four are in the American League, and I'd be damned happy to have any of them in my outfield if I were a general manager.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2005 11:21 am 
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Location: The Empire State
Wabberjocky wrote:
Carlos Beltran of the Mets, Torii Hunter of the Twins, Mark Kotsay of the A's, Vernon Wells of the Blue Jays and Coco Crisp of the Indians (not a cannon, but well above average) come to mind.


Honestly, Wabber, the only American League guy who came to mind after I made the post was Wells. Hunter, I think, is known more for the ground he covers and his athletic ability than his arm. I never knew Kotsay or Crisp had reputations as dangerous throwers. I certainly don't fear them when the Yanks are playing the A's or Indians.

The idea behind my post was that there seems to be this fallacy that center fielders have to have great arms. Even if you count all four of the A.L. guys Wabber mentioned, that would constitute four out of 14 American League teams having center fielders with great arms. (I would count only Wells, but that's subjective.)

From what you guys say, there are many more teams with center fielders with great arms in the National League. Seems as though a better case could be made there than in the A.L. for proving the notion that great center field arms are prevalent.

The right fielder's arm is usually the one outfielder's arm that's important in terms of cutting down baserunners and usually stronger than the other outfielders' arms. Suzuki's immediately comes to mind.

Interesting discussion! Thanks for responding to everyone who has so far and who may after I post this.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2005 12:15 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 08, 2002 12:01 am
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Location: Baltimore
[warning: this got long and nostalgic. sorry]

Even though I was a weak-armed centerfielder as a kid, the relative scarcity of powerful arms playing center in MLB hadn't occurred to me. But now i see it.

Yes, range always has been the main concern for centerfielders, with right field often the refuge of plodding sluggers who can throw.

Ichiro, who came to the Mariners while Mike Cameron (I think) was the team's centerfielder, remains an exception: good range and a cannon; substitutes high batting and on-base average and base stealing for an emphasis on power. Roberto Clemente was the same type of rightfielder, though he usually batted third and got a lot of extra-base hits. I'm too young to have seen much of Clemente's career, but if you ever see film of him snatching a ball hit down the rightfield line and throwing out a runner trying to go from first to third, you'll marvel: great footwork, velocity and accuracy.

Sometimes the best outfielder doesn't play center because of his home park's peculiarities. Yastremzski routinely turned doubles into singles at Fenway; Dwight Evans was great in Fenway's big and tricky right field, a horrible sun field that deepened greatly toward center.

The ideal centerfielder has the range and cannon of Willie Mays, or at least a young Mickey Mantle, and hits for average and power. Those types go to the Hall of Fame. In his youth, before the injuries piled up, Griffey Jr. was like that.

In the late 1960s and 1970s Paul Blair of the Orioles wasn't much of a hitter, but he had great range and a better than average arm. Another such player of that era was Cesar Geronimo of the Reds. They had Hall of Fame-bound sluggers for teammates, so if they hit .220 with the occasional double or triple, that was OK. Amos Otis, who played mostly for the Royals, had a gun in center field. At his best he was a better fielder than Vernon Wells and nearly a similar hitter.

When speedy Barry Bonds joined the Pirates in the 1980s, he played left because Andy Van Slyke had good range. Rickey Henderson played left in Oakland because Tony Armas concentrated better in center field. Armas had a cannon.

Bonds tended to underachieve in left field. Now that his knees are shot it's painful to watch him out there. His father could play center, but when Bobby Bonds came up with the Giants, Willie Mays was still hobbling around out there.

Ichiro combines the mental and the physical in right field. One of the best I've seen.

Players like Johnny Damon and Bernie Williams should make the most of their arms by charging sac flies and grounders, developing good footwork for a quick release, and bouncing throws instead of lofting them. These skills, and throwing to the correct base, depend on brains and coordination, not strength. Such compensation can make a fielder more valuable than a guy with an inaccurate or misaimed cannon.


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