Just as they have in left field, the Red Sox have a pretty good history of center fielders. Now, they don’t have a stretch of seven consecutive decades of stellar play, but it’s a good run nonetheless. So who are some of the less than stellar center fielders the Red Sox have employed?
Mike Cameron had a solid career prior to joining the Red Sox. He was never one hit to for a good average, batting .249 for his career, but he had some power and was a great defensive center fielder. He also was a good base stealer earlier in his career, but those days were starting to pass him by. At the age of 37, Cameron’s speed was waning and with it his range in center field. Couple these factors with Cameron’s swing and miss bat and the Red Sox decision to give Cameron two years at 7.75 million dollar per year at the age of 37 was a curious one.
That first season in Boston, Cameron’s bat was relatively similar to what he had been before, but his defense dropped off a cliff. He made two errors in just 43 games and missed some balls diving to make a play he may have been able to make in prior years. He also got injured, hurting his groin and missing most of the season. By 2011, Cameron had nothing left. He batted just .149 over 94 at-bats, posting a .212/.266/.477 slash line. The Red Sox sold him to the Marlins in July. During his time in Boston, Cameron batted .212 with 7 home runs and a .637 OPS. As for his defense, the former Gold Glove center fielder posted a -0.9 dWAR while in Boston.
Tartabull has a spot in Red Sox history, throwing out Ken Berry at the plate to win a crucial game down the stretch in 1967 over the White Sox. However, Tartabull wasn’t really a good player, so thank him for what he did in that 1967 game and not much else. That season he batted .223, drove in just 10 runs and was caught stealing as many times as he successfully stole. Also, despite the famous assist from right field in 1967, Tartabull had one of the weakest outfield arms in the game. His defense was a negative, totaling a -1.4 dWAR during his time with the Red Sox.
At the plate, Tartabull didn’t offer much. Over parts of three seasons with the Red Sox, Tartabull failed to homer. He also walked just 35 times, leading to a .295 on-base percentage. Combined with his barely existent power, Tartabull posted a .594 OPS as a member of the Red Sox. At least Tartabull had his moment in the sun.
Winningham is the only player in baseball history with “winning” in his name. Despite this, he didn’t help a lot, posting a negative wins above replacement for his career. With the Red Sox, he was less helpful than usual, posting a -0.8 over 105 games. Winningham was often brought in during the late innings, but wasn’t particularly good in the field or on the base paths. Along with his so-so defense, Winningham was caught stealing five times in 11 tries.
At the plate, Winningham batted .235 with a home run over 234 at-bats. He walked just 10 times as opposed to 53 strike outs, leading to a .266/.291/.557 triple slash line. Essentially, Winningham didn’t add any value in the field or on the base paths, and he most definitely brought negative value at the plate.
Steve Lyons, Willie Harris, Tom Oliver, Mel Almada, Gary Geiger
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