Red Sox center fielder vs the AL East
- Cedric Mullins, Orioles (10)
- Kiké Hernández, Red Sox (7)
- George Springer, Blue Jays (5)
- Kevin Kiermaier, Rays (3)
- Aaron Hicks, Yankees (1)
Finally, an Oriole! Baltimore’s Cedric Mullins is the top center fielder in the AL East after a 30-30, All-Star campaign. He has a strong argument as the biggest breakout star in all of baseball last year, as his home runs and stolen base totals more than tripled his career totals to that point. He’ll have to prove it wasn’t a fluke, but Mullins is the centerpiece of this rebuilding Orioles team.
Another breakout AL East star, Kiké Hernández accounted for 4.9 WAR on the back of some spectacular defense. No outfielder in the game is better at getting jumps on balls, and those instincts allowed him to account for 9 OAA. Paired with 20 home runs and a career-high walk total, Hernandez was one of the most valuable outfielders in baseball in 2021.
The Blue Jays big-ticket offseason acquisition, George Springer lived up to expectations, albeit in limited action. His 143 OPS+ was the second-best of his career, and his 22 home runs in 78 games represented one of the best rates in baseball. His injury-plagued season was more of the same, though, as he had exceeded the 140-game threshold just once in his career. That and his rising strikeout total prevent him from being higher on the list.
Like Springer, Kevin Kiermaier has had a lot of trouble staying healthy. The three-time Gold Glover has only played more than 130 games once in his career and has exceeded the 100-game mark only two times in the last five seasons. His reckless abandon is part of what makes him such a great defender, but it definitely comes at a price.
Rounding out the AL East centerfielders is the Yankees’ Aaron Hicks. Hicks is basically banking off his terrific 2018 season when he slashed .248/.366/.467 with 27 home runs. In the three seasons since, however, he has averaged just 48 games a season with a line of .223/.338/.410. He could still work the occasional walk and pop the occasional home run, but there’s not much here.