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2005 Preview: Center Field

2004 METS CENTER-FIELDERS

                    AB      BA     OBP     SLG     OPS
Mike Cameron       491    .232    .320    .481    .801
Gerald Williams     76    .171    .182    .303    .484
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All Mets CF        609    .225    .305    .456    .761
NL CF              637    .264    .332    .432    .764

"All Mets CF" are cumulative stats for everyone who played center-field for the Mets in 2004, including those with fewer than 40 at-bats. "NL CF" is the 2004 National League average for center-fielders, including the Mets.

Mets center-fielders were 15% below the NL average in BA, 5% below the average in OBP, but 5% above the average in SLG. Mike Cameron accounted for 80% of the Mets at-bats in center last year, so it's no surprise that his low average and on-base numbers are reflected in the team's rates. Despite his terrible success at reaching base in 2004, he actually hit the ball extremely hard when he managed to make contact. His slugging percentage was well above the league average for center-fielders, as he clubbed 61 extra-base hits in 491 at-bats.

Cameron had a number of nagging injuries last season, including a bad toe and pinkie. His offensive output was actually pretty decent, considering how low his batting average was. If he can continue slugging at a .480 pace and bump his average up 30 points or so, he'll be a very productive right-fielder in 2005.

Carlos Beltran, his $119 million Samoleans, and his occular enhancement machine will be patrolling center-field for the Mets in 2005. A less accomplished defender than the man he is displacing, he is nonetheless among the elite ballplayers in the game. PECOTA projects a .280/.377/.508 line for Beltran in 2005, with 26 homeruns and 30-for-36 in stolen bases. Those numbers would have placed him second in the National League among center-fielders, trailing only Jim Edmonds and his .301/.418/.643 line. That would be a great offensive season for Beltran if it were true, and my gut tells me that it's a conservative projection to boot. His homeruns should definitely decrease from last year, but he should steal just as many bases, will probably draw a few more walks, and will hit more balls in the gap, increasing his doubles and triples.