MLB: The most valuable center fielders of 2019

ST PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 15: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels plays centerfield against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on June 15, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 15: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels plays centerfield against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on June 15, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

MLB: The most valuable center fielders of 2019

2. George Springer, Houston Astros, $10.468 million value; $12 million salary

Springer’s defensive credentials are literally identical to Acuna’s – they had the same fielding averages and range factors—so his superior rank is pegged entirely to his production at the plate.

That production includes a .292 batting average, .383 on-base average and a .591 slugging average. Springer couldn’t match Acuna’s 41 home runs, but at 39 he didn’t miss that figure by much.

His offense, which boiled down to a 150 OPS+, worked out to a 6.2 WAR, the position’s second-best and worth $8.244 million in on-field value. That was about $900,000 more than Acuna’s on-field value.

Since they matched defensive credentials, that left Acuna with only playing time to make up that $900,000 difference. Since the Atlanta star led the position, Springer obviously couldn’t stay with him. But at 918 innings, worth $468,000, he stayed close enough to hold on to second place.

Springer is a third-year arbitration-eligible in 2020, and given his performance, he’ll deliver a major hit to the Houston budget. His reliable production, however, ensures that Astros management will smile through that process. Among Astros position players, only Alex Bregman ran up a higher WAR in 2019, and only Michael Brantley alongside him in left produced a higher on-field value.