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D-backs' Top 5 center fielders: Gilbert's take

@SteveGilbertMLB
May 5, 2020

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. These rankings are for fun

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only. If you don’t agree with the order, participate in the Twitter poll to vote for your favorite at this position.

Here is Steve Gilbert’s ranking of the top five center fielders in D-backs history. Next week: right fielders.

1. Steve Finley, 1999-2004
Key fact: Finley won National League Gold Glove Awards with the D-backs in 1999 and 2000.

If there’s one position on the field where the D-backs have been blessed with elite talent over the years, center field is it. Not surprisingly, then, this was the most difficult of all the positions to pick the top spot, and I went back and forth before settling on Steve Finley.

But it was really, really close.

D-backs All-Time Team: LF | SS | 3B | 2B | 1B | C

Signed as a free agent before the 1999 season, Finley won NL Gold Gloves in his first two years in Arizona and was a big part of the reason they won three division titles -- and a World Series -- in the four seasons from 1999-2002.

Finley finished just behind A.J. Pollock in bWAR accumulated with the D-backs (19-18), but in the end, Finley got the nod because of his durability and postseason performance.

In his five full seasons in Arizona, Finley played in less than 150 games only once, and he played in all 104 games in 2004 before being dealt to the Dodgers. That gave him 942 more plate appearances than Pollock.

During the D-backs’ postseason run to a World Series title in 2001, Finley slashed .365/.441/.462.

2. A.J. Pollock, 2012-18
Key fact: He ranked fourth among NL position players with a 6.9 bWAR in 2015.

Early in his Minor League tenure with the D-backs, A.J. Pollock broke an elbow diving for a ball. It was a sign of things to come -- he would always hustle, and he would suffer injuries despite keeping himself in tremendous physical shape. If not for the time missed because of the injuries, Pollock would be the clear No. 1 on this list. Instead, he narrowly lost out to Finley.

Pollock is a bit of a lightning rod for D-backs fans right now because of a comment he made after joining the Dodgers that was taken out of context, but that should not obscure what kind of player he was and the contributions he made during his time in Arizona.

Pollock’s career high in games of 157 came in 2015, when he slashed .315/.367/.498 and stole 39 bases while posting a 130 OPS+ and winning an NL Gold Glove.

Another fracture of the elbow on a slide at home plate two days before the start of the 2016 season kept him out for much of the year. Even while limited to 225 games from 2017-18, he had an OPS of .801.

3. Chris Young, 2006-12
Key fact: Young was fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2007.

Chris Young was one of former general manager Josh Byrnes’ best acquisitions, coming over from the White Sox in December 2005, and he was a part of a pair of division-winning teams in 2007 and ’11.

Young was an outstanding defender who could cover plenty of ground in big center fields found in the NL West, and he had some thump in his bat, hitting a career-high 32 homers in 2007 and four times hitting over 20 homers.

A threat on the bases as well, Young stole more than 20 bases in three seasons during his Arizona tenure.

4. Devon White, 1998
Key fact: White was the D-backs' first All-Star.

Devon White was acquired from the Marlins in November 1997, as the D-backs wanted his outstanding defensive skills and leadership ability during its inaugural season. Then 35 years old and on the back end of his career, White hit 22 homers while also stealing 22 bases and posting a bWAR of 3.8 in his lone D-backs season.

5. Jarrod Dyson, 2018-19
Key fact: Nickname is “Zoombiya” -- a nod to his speed.

Jarrod Dyson’s playing time in Arizona was limited by injury, but he still found ways to have an impact. His personality brought life to the clubhouse, and he was a valuable mentor to players like rookie Christian Walker when they went through struggles.

Dyson’s ability to rob home runs during his two years in Arizona is legendary.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.