Doug Glanville. He's the best centerfielder in the National League. No, I'm not joking. And, no, I'm not crazy. The centerfield position in the National League, unlike in the American League, isn't exactly shoulder-deep in talent. There are no Ken Griffeys or Kenny Loftons in center. In fact, the best centerfielder in the Senior Circuit may just be the one patrolling the turf at Veterans Stadium. Don't agree? Well, then, who's better than the Phillies' leadoff hitter among National League centerfielders? Not the Padres' Ruben Rivera -- owner of a .228 career batting average through Monday. Not the Expos' Manny Martinez or Cardinals' journeyman Darren Bragg. The Mets' Brian McRae? The Cubs' Lance Johnson? The Dodgers' Devon White? All are past their prime; none are hitting over .260 this year. What about Darryl Hamilton? He's hitting .308. But he plays for the Rockies in the ultra-thin air of Coors Field. And Glanville still has a higher average and twice as many home runs. Marvin Benard? He's steady -- a career .279 hitter -- but Glanville has more pop, more speed, and a higher average. Preston Wilson? Mike Cameron? The two youngsters have potential, but they have not yet produced enough. Wilson has slugged 16 homers but has also fanned 72 times in 233 at bats. Cameron, meanwhile, owns just a .239 lifetime average. What about Marquis Grissom? The Brewers' centerfielder has a reputation from his days in Montreal of being a high-average speedster. But he has a combined .270 batting average in the last three years and only half as many steals -- nine -- as Glanville this year. So who does that leave? The Astros' Carl Everett, the Diamondbacks' Steve Finley, the Pirates' Brian Giles and the Braves' Andruw Jones. Two solid players and two potential stars. But none better than Glanville. Everett has become a good player in Houston, but he's still only a career .269 hitter. He has more homers and RBIs than Glanville this year, but the Astros' centerfielder still trails in nearly every other hitting category. Finley has enjoyed a resurgence of sorts this year in Arizona with 15 homers and 58 RBIs. But although his power numbers eclipse those of the Phillies' centerfielder, Glanville has a higher average, more steals, more runs, more walks, less strikeouts and a higher on-base percentage. Giles also has more power than Glanville, but, as the Pirates' No. 3 hitter, only has five more RBIs than the Phillies' leadoff hitter. Both Glanville and Giles are in the early parts of their careers, but Glanville has proven himself as a starter for nearly three years, while Giles is in just his first year of full-time duty. Giving Glanville the nod in center over Jones is a tougher choice, however. The Braves' centerfielder hit 31 homers and stole 27 bases while winning a Gold Glove last year. Undoubtedly, Jones can become a better player, but Glanville is the better centerfielder now. Glanville has more stolen bases, a higher average and a better on-base percentage. And, if that isn't enough, as a leadoff hitter, Glanville (48) has more RBIs than Jones (45). Halfway through the season, Glanville is on pace for a 208-hit, 12-homer, 36-stolen base season. And with 47 runs and 48 RBIs, the Philadelphia centerfielder could top the century mark in both of those categories. With a .320 batting average -- .394 with runners in scoring position -- it's hard to deny Glanville a spot among the top centerfielders in the game. "Is he one of the best centerfielders in the game today? Yes." Phillies pitcher Paul Byrd said. "He does a lot of things well. He runs well, he hits well, he can hit for power." Is he the best centerfielder in the game today? No, Griffey is. But is Glanville the best centerfielder in the National League? Even without an All-Star appearance on his resume, the answer is yes.Comments powered by Disqus
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