I don't think any position for the Astros is as ballpark dependant as center field. From the point where the scoreboard ends under the Crawford Boxes to right-center, the ground a center fielder must cover at Minute Maid Park is vast. The Juice Box has a reputation as a hitters' park, but try telling that to anyone who hit the ball up the middle in either the Willy Taveras or Michael Bourn years. You smack one deep into a vast power alley only to watch a speedy center fielder track it down for a loud out. And that's where we need to find our next center fielder because, and I'll admit this up front, I'm not a fan of Justin Maxwell. Now don't get me wrong, I think J-Max is probably our starting center fielder when we open against the Rangers. But defensively Maxwell is an average center fielder in a ballpark that needs an exceptional center fielder. Couple that with his questionable offense, and we're looking at a real weak spot on this team. Here is our list of probable center fielders for 2013: Justin Maxwell, Bats R/Throws R, 29 years old Selected on waivers April 2012 from New York Yankees 2012 stats (Astros): In 315 ABs, 18 HRs, 53 RBIs, .229/.304/.460, 114 K (32.4%), 32 BB (9.1%) and BaBiP, .292 Since I didn't want this to become a sabermetric mess, I chose Rtot as my stat du jour. Rtot measures "The number of runs a player was worth above or below average based on the number of plays made. Maxwell's Rtot was 3. By definition, league average is zero. Brandon Barnes, Bats R/Throws R, 26 years old Drafted in the 6th Round of the 2005 Amateur Draft 2012 stats (Astros) In 98 AB, 1 HRs, 7 RBIs, .204/.250/.265, 29K (27.6%), 5 BB (4.8%) and BaBiP .279 2012 stats (44 games CC, 62 games OKC), In 399 ABs, 12 HRs, 69 RBIs, .321/.381/.514, 91 Ks (23%), 37 BBs (8.5%) In limited action (a little more than half of Maxwell's innings) Barnes posed an Rtot of 7. Other metrics would seem to indicate he's a much better defender than Maxwell as well. If he can get on base at a decent clip, his defense might make him our center fielder.
Don't put them in coach, they're not ready to play CF!
Houston Chronicle | Jan 31