Red Sox: Top five center fielders in Boston’s franchise history
By Sean Penney
The BoSox Injection staff ranks the top handful of players in Boston Red Sox history at each position. Up next is center field.
Jackie Bradley, Jr. is the best defensive player that has ever patrolled center field for the Boston Red Sox.
A bold statement, but one Bradley is quickly building a case for early in his career. Scouts have long raved about his skills in the field, praising his instincts and route running that allow him to get to fly balls others could not, as well as his rocket arm that can halt base runners in their tracks.
The metrics back up this statement as well. Bradley has already accumulated 28.2 WAR with his defense alone, per FanGraphs. That’s the sixth highest total among center fielders in franchise history, despite that he’s appeared in far fewer games than those ahead of him on the list.
We’ve been aware of what Bradley is capable of with his glove since his debut in 2013, but last season was the first time he showed more than brief flashes of production at the plate. His career numbers as a hitter remain below average, which combined with his limited experience, excludes him from the conversation of the best center fielders in franchise history.
If JBJ can find more consistency with his bat to improve upon his breakout year, we may one day consider him for this list. He’s not quite at that level yet, but here are five former Red Sox players that proved themselves worthy of being among the best at their position.