Top 10 Best MLB Center Fielders for the 2024 Season

The list of the top 10 center fielders in baseball features an exciting blend of established stars and young hotshots.

HOUSTON, TEXAS - JULY 21: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees hits a three-run home run in the ninth inning against the Houston Astros during game two of a doubleheader at Minute Maid Park on July 21, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

An already talented positional group, center field added one of the best players in the world in addition to an international star who immediately cracks our top 10 list.

This position has been dominated by Mike Trout for the majority of the past decade, but he no longer holds the top spot (or even the second spot…). Instead, the top spot goes to an MVP right fielder who will be starting the majority of his games in center field this season.

Compared to many of our other rankings, this list features an exciting blend of established stars and young hotshots. Half of the players on this list have two or fewer years of MLB experience, which speaks to the bright future around the league in center field. Plenty of other youngsters around the league could force their way onto this list in the near future as well.

Many of these players still have ample room to grow, which makes this such a fun position to keep an eye on heading into the season. Let’s break down the impressive qualities of each player on this list and why they were ranked the way they were as we look toward 2024.

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The following rankings were made by our senior staff members at Just Baseball. Jack McMullen, Peter Appel, Aram Leighton, Ryan Finkelstein, Leo Morgenstern and Colby Olson created their top player lists at each position, and we took the composite average score to set our 2024 rankings.

Honorable Mentions: TJ Friedl and Byron Buxton

When you look at last year’s performance, TJ Friedl has a real argument for being considered a top-10 center fielder in baseball. He hit .279/.352/.467, with 18 home runs, and 27 stolen bases.

When it comes to wRC+, Friedl’s 116 mark was seventh-best among primary center fielders. Looking at Wins Above Replacement, Friedl’s 4.4 fWAR was tied with James Outman for the third-best mark in baseball, trailing only Julio Rodriguez and Luis Robert Jr.

Ultimately Friedl fell just short of our list because the sample size is a little too small on him and we are waiting another year to make sure the breakout was forreal.

Our other honorable mention is Byron Buxton, who based on talent alone could be in the top five on this list. The problem with Buxton is the injuries. He wasn’t even physically able to play center field last season and did not hit to his standard when on the field as a DH.

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According to early reports in spring, Buxton is healthier than he has been in years and will be attempting to get back in center this year. Hopefully he really is healthy and if so, Buxton should be a top 10 center fielder in baseball again, but it is hard to count on much when he has not played 100 games in a season since 2017.

10. Jazz Chisholm Jr.

Age in 2024: 26

2023 Stats: 383 PA, .250/.304/.457, 19 HR, 51 RBI, 22 SB, 103 wRC+, 1.9 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics: -9 DRS, 4 OAA

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When we originally made our top 10 list, Jazz Chisolm Jr. was on the outside looking in, but since Brandon Nimmo is moving into a corner for this season, everyone was bumped up a spot and he now makes the cut.

Chisolm has one of the widest range of outcomes as any player on this list for the 2024 season. We have seen Jazz flash superstar potential at times, where he is able to carry a lineup for stretches. Unfortunately those stretches have been few and far between, due to inconsistency and really because of injuries.

Jazz has played just 157 games over the last two years, with 97 of them coming in 2023. Last year marked his first season playing center field, a switch that best served the Marlins after their addition of Luis Arraez, but might not have been the best thing for an oft-injured player long term.

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Playing a more physically taxing position does not quell his injury concern in the slightest, but his athleticism did translate better than expected out there, where he was worth 4 OAA. With a year of experience to build on, Jazz could become a true plus defensive center fielder in Miami.

When it comes to his bat, Chisolm has 30-30 potential if he can stay in the lineup.

9. Riley Greene

Age in 2024: 23

2023 Stats: 416 PA, .288/.349/.447, 11 HR, 37 RBI, 7 SB, 119 wRC+, 2.3 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics: -6 DRS, 1 OAA (OF), -7 DRS, 0 OAA (CF)


The Tigers remain one of the most underrated teams in baseball. They took major steps forward last season, thanks in large part to contributions from their young core. While they still have holes to figure out, they appear to have center field covered for a while with Riley Greene.

After debuting in 2022 at just 21 years old and looking solid, Greene took a step forward with the bat last year despite some injuries that prevented him from playing the entire season. While his strikeout and walk rates remained consistent from his first season, Greene tapped into his power more than he had during his rookie campaign.

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His average exit velocity was under 90 MPH in 2022 but that number climbed to 91.6 MPH last season. He subsequently elevated his hard-hit and barrel rates as well. One of the causes for his uptick in power was likely his average launch angle jumping from just 2.8 to a much better 6.6 in his second season.

Greene is not the fastest center fielder, but he succeeded on all seven of his stolen base attempts last year after succeeding just once in five attempts the year prior. He’s unlikely to become an elite base stealer, but he could easily steal 15 to 20 bases while displaying average power over the course of a fully healthy season.

The Tigers believe that he is a core piece of their future and for good reason. The priority this year will be keeping him healthy for the entire season and working on keeping his hitting trending the same direction it was moving last season. The defense in center could also use some work, but Greene appears to be on track for more growth at just 23 years old.

8. James Outman

Age in 2024: 27

2023 Stats: 567 PA, .248/.353/.437, 23 HR, 70 RBI, 16 SB, 118 wRC+, 4.4 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics: 1 DRS, 9 OAA


Entering Spring Training last season, James Outman was not guaranteed a spot with the Dodgers as a 25-year-old who appeared in just four games in 2022. He more than earned his spot with Los Angeles and became an everyday outfielder for one of the best teams in baseball during his rookie campaign.

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Outman had his share of ups and downs in his first season after dominating Major League Baseball out of the gate in April. His aggressive swing rates remain bit of a concern, but his blend of power, speed, and athleticism makes him such an exciting player moving forward.

Despite a strikeout rate over 30%, Outman got on base at a solid rate while generating ample power and stolen bases. Furthermore, he was a strong defender in center field while showing versatility to play in either corner spot when the Dodgers needed him to do so.

He also walked at a 12% clip which is excellent for someone who strikes out as frequently as he did last season. Within a lineup of numerous future Hall of Famers, Outman could produce even more next season while hitting in the bottom half of a star-studded lineup.

Given the loaded nature of the Dodgers roster, Outman may not even be asked to face left-handed pitchers this season, which could lead to even stronger numbers. He hit 22 of his 23 home runs against right-handed pitching last season. He’s older than most players entering their second season, but Outman still has room to grow and will have the chance to do so in possibly the lowest pressure situation imaginable next season.

It would not surprise me if Outman pushed close to a 30/30 year next season while manning center field for the Dodgers against every right-handed starting pitcher they face.

7. Jung Hoo Lee

Age in 2024: 25

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2023 Stats (KBO): 387 PA, .318/.406/.455, 6 HR, 45 RBI, 6 SB, 139 wRC+


The Giants have been trying to attract stars for the past few offseasons, and they may have finally gotten one in Korean center fielder Jung Hoo Lee, who debuts at the number eight spot on our rankings.

You can read an in-depth breakdown of what Lee brings to the table here, but the biggest tool of note is his unbelievable contact ability. His contact rates in Korea last season would have been the second-highest in the majors, behind just the contact king Luis Arraez.

It may take some time for Lee to adjust to MLB pitching, but as a 25-year-old with years of dominance under his belt in Korea, his potential is undeniable. He is also known to be a rather strong defender in center field, which should help his value remain high even if he takes some time to get acclimated at the plate.

His power has not fully come through yet, but he has exit velocity rates higher than most traditional contact hitters. As he ages, we could see him find more of that power which in turn would make him an even higher-impact hitter.

Lee will be an extremely fun player to watch develop and could make his way up this list in the years to come if he can produce even close to the level that he did throughout his KBO career. The Giants will give him every chance to succeed at the top of the order, but only time will tell how his transition to MLB pitching will go.

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6. Cody Bellinger

Age in 2024: 28

2023 Stats: 556 PA, .307/.356/.525, 26 HR, 97 RBI, 20 SB, 134 wRC+, 4.1 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics: -3 DRS, 4 OAA


The most complicated free agent on the market this winter comes in seventh on this list after a resurgent season. Cody Bellinger once would have ranked near the top of any list after winning the NL MVP in 2019 at just 23 years old, but he had a rough string of years prior to 2023.

After signing a one-year “prove it” deal with the Cubs last winter, Bellinger is back on the radar of baseball fans as a high-end player who is somehow still just 28 years old. He found his swing again with Chicago, and his 2023 numbers alone would probably land him within the top five of this list.

However, there is serious risk that comes with Cody B., as he was genuinely one of the worst everyday hitters in baseball during the 2021 and 2022 seasons. One of the key differences last season was his much lower strikeout rate of just 15.6%, but that may not be sustainable; his strikeout rate in 2023 was even lower than it was during his MVP season.

Bellinger split time between first base and center field for the Cubs last year but is being viewed as a true center fielder heading into the coming season. He has graded out as a strong defender by Outs Above Average every season of his career in center field and should be at least average out there moving forward.

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It’s hard to gauge what kind of player Bellinger will be in the future, which is what lands him below the next player who has been very consistent in recent years. There is a chance that he can repeat last season and be a top-five player at the position, but we need to see a little more of a sample given his performance from 2020-22.

5. Michael Harris II

Age in 2024: 23

2023 Stats: 539 PA, .293/.331/.477, 18 HR, 57 RBI, 20 SB, 115 wRC+, 4.0 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics: 2 DRS, 6 OAA


Michael Harris II showed two different versions of himself in his sophomore season after his exceptional rookie campaign. Harris was slow out of the gate and missed most of April with an injury, subsequently batting just .167 with only two home runs in all of May. It was not a pretty start to the season, but the switch flipped in June and he never looked back.

The player we saw take the league by storm returned and upped his monthly batting average by over 200 points as he hit .372 in June and continued to dominate the rest of the season. From June 1 on, Harris posted a 136 wRC+ with 16 home runs, 15 stolen bases, and excellent defense across 416 plate appearances.

It’s safe to say that the second-year slump passed quickly, and Harris proved that he is a top-five center fielder in baseball at just 22 years old. He still managed to produce a four-win season while being one of the worst hitters in the league for the first two months of the year. That is a testament not only to his bounce back at the plate but also his defensive prowess.

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Harris reduced his strikeout rate substantially from his rookie season and has even more room to grow with his plate approach. Harris has fallen just shy of the 20/20 mark in each of his first two seasons, but he has the ability to reach that threshold while being an elite defender every year for the next decade.

If Harris can avoid the early-season slump he had last year, he’ll remain firmly in this top five for years to come. While he is a much better player, he is in a similarly fortunate situation to Outman, in which he is surrounded by stars that will take pressure off of him. He was the best nine-hole hitter in baseball last year and will still be the best at his respective spot even if he moves a place or two higher in the lineup next year.

4. Luis Robert Jr.

Age in 2024: 26

2023 Stats: 595 PA, .264/.315/.542, 38 HR, 80 RBI, 20 SB, 128 wRC+, 5.0 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics: 6 DRS, 13 OAA


Luis Robert Jr. finally harnessed his potential into a superstar-level season in 2023. Almost everything went wrong for the White Sox, but their center fielder showed that he is a true star and will be the piece that Chicago builds the lineup around moving forward.

The former top prospect has always had upside but had yet to play even 100 games in a season due to injuries (and underperformance when on the field in 2022). His athleticism and power blended together for the first time in his career, as Robert crushed 38 home runs after hitting just a total of 36 in his first three seasons.

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Beyond just the power explosion, he was a finalist for the AL Gold Glove in center field and made countless unbelievable catches and home run robberies. Additionally, while he always had upside on the bases, he was finally healthy enough to steal 20 bases this season.

Robert’s plate approach has never been his calling card, and his strikeout rate was rather high. Still, just about everything else was excellent. Furthermore, he was visibly playing through an injury down the stretch before being shut down for the year which caused his numbers to decrease marginally.

With all of that said, Robert has only performed at this level for one season, which keeps him out of the top three for now. At just 26 years old, he could be a top-three center fielder in the near future but has to show that he can produce at this level consistently moving forward.

If he’s able to remain healthy, I expect another 30-plus home run season with Gold Glove caliber defense from “La Pantera” in 2024. The only issue is that teams may simply avoid pitching to him due to the lackluster lineup around him in Chicago.

3. Mike Trout

Age in 2024: 32

2023 Stats: 362 PA, .263/.367/.490, 18 HR, 44 RBI, 2 SB, 134 wRC+, 3.0 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics: 1 DRS, 4 OAA

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The greatest player of the generation has fallen two spots from the top spot that he occupied for many years. Let me be clear that Mike Trout is still one of the best players in the world, but the reality is that he hasn’t been reliable for the past three seasons.

Trout has continued to be hampered by injuries, and he’s not getting any younger at 32 years old. The other consideration made here is that Trout honestly wasn’t nearly as good as we expect him to be during his 82 games on the field last season.

His 134 wRC+ was the lowest of his career by a wide margin aside from his 40-game stint as a 19-year-old. Since that season, Trout had never posted a wRC+ under 160 until this past year. The power was still apparent, but his batting average dropped well below his career average and he posted the highest strikeout rate of his career.

He is still one of the most talented players ever, and it would not surprise anyone if he returned to MVP form next year. Still, the two players ranked ahead of him were not only more available last season but were also just more productive.

Slotting him in at third feels insane, but it’s fair for right now given his string of injuries and reduced production last season. Losing Shohei Ohtani is going to hurt as well, given that teams will have very little incentive to pitch to Trout next season with a relatively young and mediocre lineup around him.

Baseball is better when Mike Trout is on the field, and the focus heading into the year will be on keeping him healthy so he can get back to being his old self.

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2. Julio Rodríguez

Age in 2024: 23

2023 Stats: 714 PA, .275/.333/.485, 32 HR, 103 RBI, 37 SB, 126 wRC+, 5.0 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics: -5 DRS, 12 OAA


One of the brightest young stars in the game checks in ahead of Mike Trout after being possibly the best player in baseball down the stretch last year. The second-year slump briefly hit J-Rod after his insane rookie season, but he quickly turned it around.

From July 1 onward, Rodriguez posted a 153 wRC+ with 19 home runs and 19 stolen bases as he propelled the Mariners back into the playoff race and cemented himself as one of the game’s best. His wRC+ and other rates at the plate dropped from his rookie season, but a 30/30 season at 22 years old is incredible.

He is also an excellent defender and one of the best all-around players in baseball. Somehow, he just turned 23 years old yet is already in the upper echelon of outfielders. He was healthy throughout all of 2023, and his overall contributions as the leader of the Mariners place him above Trout on this list.

There are very few players in the league with more upside than Julio as we look toward the future. He is an undeniable superstar who will be among the top players on this list for a long time to come.

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1. Aaron Judge

Age in 2024: 32

2023 Stats: 458 PA, .267/.406/.613, 37 HR, 75 RBI, 3 SB, 174 wRC+, 5.3 fWAR
2023 Defensive Metrics: -4 DRS, 0 OAA (OF), -1 DRS, 1 OAA (CF)


Ranked as a center fielder for the first time in his career, Aaron Judge tops the list. He is quite possibly the best position player in the game right now and will now be starting in center field for the Yankees after the arrival of Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo in New York.

Judge hit 62 home runs in 2022 en route to winning AL MVP and proceeded to hit 37 home runs and post 5.3 fWAR in just 106 games last season despite missing a large chunk of the year with an injury. Simply put, Judge has been on another level compared to the rest of this list over the past two seasons.

He broke records in 2022. Then, he put up the same wRC+ last year that he did in his Rookie of the Year season in which he hit 52 home runs. He was on pace for a massive season once again last year, and we should expect nothing less than that from him moving forward. Pitchers feared Judge more than ever as he walked at a career-best 19.2% rate last season.

Judge shifting over to center field could put a little more strain on his body, but he has proven to be a capable defender there. He played a lot of center in 2022 and fared well out there. He may not be the quickest, but his length and arm strength will help him handle the position.

In the second year of his massive contract with the Yankees, Aaron Judge enters the season as the best center fielder in baseball and the favorite to lead the league in home runs.