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John Dewan's Stat of the Week - Kevin Kiermaier

Top 5 Defensive Center Fielders

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Photo: Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire


The other day, I wanted to rank the top defensive center fielders in MLB entering 2024, so I pulled up The Fielding Bible leaderboards along with a pen and paper and got to work.

I put Brenton Doyle No. 1. Doyle led all center fielders in both Defensive Runs Saved and Good Fielding Plays last season and won the NL Gold Glove at the position. If he hits even a smidge, he’s going to play and play a lot because he’s so good in the field. And he’s still young. He turns 26 in May and should still have fresh legs.

I’m guessing that Kevin Kiermaier won’t like that I’m putting him No. 2 given that he’s the reigning Fielding Bible Award winner and the overall leader in Runs Saved by a center fielder since we started tracking the stat in 2003. But Kiermaier turns 34 in April and has a substantial injury history. So we’re going with the young buck ahead of the reigning champ and encouraging the older guy to prove us wrong. (We’ll own up to it if we are!)

No. 3 is another veteran, Michael A. Taylor. Though he’s currently unsigned, we’ll still put our faith in Taylor, who ranks first among center fielders in Runs Saved over the last 3 seasons. We wrote about him in great detail last week and encourage you to check that out to learn more about what makes him good (spoiler: he’s been really good at chasing the deep fly ball). The track record of success is there.

My No. 4 defensive center fielder entering 2024 is another young’un, Johan Rojas. Rojas ranked 4th among center fielders in Runs Saved despite ranking 37th in innings. He also had the most Runs Saved of any minor league center fielder in 2023. There’s every reason to think he’ll be great in 2024.

No. 5 is the one that was hardest to pick and I’m going to go with the wildest of wild cards, Byron Buxton. Buxton is going to return to playing outfield after solely playing as a designated hitter last season.

Buxton is as good as it gets on a per-inning basis. From 2020 to 2022 he played about the equivalent of one MLB season in center field and saved 29 runs. That’s a league-leading caliber season for a center fielder. In that 3-year span, Buxton ranked 2nd among center fielders in Runs Saved and 20th in innings played.


Buxton is a potential make-or-break player for the Twins this season and also a high-risk, high-reward pick in Defensive Runs Saved fantasy leagues (yes, those leagues exist). I feel good enough about him to rank him in the No. 5 slot. If he’s healthy for most of the season, he’ll be a difference maker.

Who are your Top 5 defensive center fielders entering 2024? Tweet your picks at us.

Mark's Top 5 Defensive CF Entering 2024

  1. Brenton Doyle
  2. Kevin Kiermaier
  3. Michael A. Taylor
  4. Johan Rojas
  5. Byron Buxton

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