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Where does Rajai Davis rank among AL Central center fielders?

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Heading into this offseason, the Tribe was likely going to give Abraham Almonte his shot at playing every day. But that plan has been suspended.

Will Rajai Davis be the Tribe center fielder in 2016?
Will Rajai Davis be the Tribe center fielder in 2016?
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

With the 80-game suspension of Abraham Almonte last week, the Tribe has been left with no significant option to patrol the heart of the outfield, center field. As it was, even if Almonte had the job, the Indians were going to have a tough time out projecting the rest of their rivals. Let's do one more tour of the AL Central.

Cleveland Indians

I have left what Almonte's original projections were slated to be below. But, obviously, that will not come to fruition. There is also a better than 50 percent chance that Almonte never reclaims this position. Right now, the MLB depth chart has Brantley penciled in as the starter here. That is no real surprise as he has played there often (356 games) in his career. But coming off that injury, I hope, dare say pray, that Tito Francona does not decide to make him the everyday center fielder this season.

According to MLB.com, Collin Cowgill is next in line, but I would rather pencil in Rajai Davis as the likely candidate, especially since he has a major league contract, and Tyler Naquin still has options. Naquin also has just 218 PAs in Triple-A so far, so it 's likely he opens at Columbus. The dark horse here is non-roster invite Will Venable.

Obviously, the jewel of the system is the hugely hyped Bradley Zimmer. Even though Clint Frazier is also a center fielder, I think Zimmer keeps this spot going forward. He is the No. 1 Indian prospect on MLB Pipeline, and #26 overall. He only has a half season at Double-A so far, so it is not likely he gets to Cleveland until 2017.

Abraham Almonte

(original)

PA

HR

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

wRC+

WAR

Steamer

343

6

247

308

371

297

87

0.8

ZIPS

533

10

247

307

384

307

1.0

Marcel

351

8

252

307

403

Rajai Davis

PA

HR

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

wRC+

WAR

Steamer

354

5

249

295

378

294

84

0.6

ZIPS

389

7

258

302

402

305

92

1.6

Marcel

400

9

260

306

403

Chicago White Sox

Acquired in a three-team deal prior to the 2014 season, Adam Eaton has played very well for the White Sox. They thought enough of his performance in 2014 to buy out his arbitration years, signing him to a 5 year, $23.5 million deal through 2019 and two team options. He is also entering his "prime" age 27 season. As with left field, he will likely be backed up by J.B. Shuck and Jerry Sands.

The top prospect in the system is Adam Engel, who is No. 4 according to MLB Pipeline for the White Sox. He hit .251/.335/.369 in High-A ball last year.

Adam Eaton

PA

HR

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

wRC+

WAR

Steamer

640

10

272

343

395

324

103

1.9

ZIPS

669

9

277

352

400

331

108

2.8

Marcel

598

9

284

351

413

Detroit Tigers

Cameron Maybin arrived this offseason as the Atlanta Braves continued their salary purge. Originally a first-round draft pick of the Tigers, he was dealt in the Miguel Cabrera deal. But while with both the Marlins and Padres, Maybin did not quite produce per that high pedigree. He did manage two 3.0 bWAR seasons in 20111 and 2012 but has been barely replacement level the past three years. This is his final year on his contract, but the Tigers do have a $9 million team option on him next year. Anthony Gose and Tyler Collins are the primary backups.

The top prospect in the system is Derek Hill (#3 Tiger by MLB Pipeline) who hit .238/.305/.314 in Single-A.

Cameron Maybin

PA

HR

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

wRC+

WAR

Steamer

431

7

263

322

382

308

93

1.0

ZIPS

405

7

261

317

375

303

89

0.6

Marcel

505

9

255

314

368

Kansas City Royals

Lorenzo Cain just happened to be one of the targets by Mark Shapiro when C.C. Sabathia was dealt to Milwaukee, but the Royals ended up nabbing him for Zack Greinke instead. He has always been pretty steady with the glove, but last year the bat came alive and Cain finished with a 7.2 bWAR and finished third in the MVP voting. Cain signed a two-year deal for $17.5 million this spring, avoiding arbitration. Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando are the backups.

Bubba Starling played in High-A and Double-A last year, posting a .269/.337/.448 line, making him No. 7 on the Royals MLB Pipeline list. So he should be ready when Cain leaves.

Lorenzo Cain

PA

HR

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

wRC+

WAR

Steamer

585

11

283

334

417

325

104

3.9

ZIPS

549

9

284

332

416

323

103

3.6

Marcel

552

11

287

338

430

Minnesota Twins

Byron Buxton was the second overall pick in the 2012 draft. The scouting community loves this kid's tools and that has him being a Top 10 overall prospect for the fourth year in a row, but injuries have derailed him the past two years. He had just 137 PA in 2014 and 292 PA in 2015 in the minors. He did make his debut with the Twins in 2015, though, getting another 138 PA there. He is still just 22 years old.

Buxton is the Twins No. 1 prospect (again), and No. 1 overall by MLB's Pipeline. I won't look any further for another prospect.

Byron Buxton

PA

HR

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

wRC+

fWAR

Steamer

469

10

258

308

398

307

92

1.3

ZIPS

408

9

266

310

405

311

94

2.8

Marcel

269

6

244

300

386

My take

Interestingly enough, the projections really prefer Rajai Davis over Almonte, so it could be a blessing that he got suspended. Cain is probably the top guy here, but I doubt he replicates 2015. Buxton has the tools to be the top guy, but I think he takes at least a year to figure it out, or at least a half season this year. Eaton is a bit underrated to me as well.

I'd rank them as follows:

  1. Cain
  2. Buxton
  3. Eaton
  4. Davis
  5. Maybin

Please post your rankings in the comments.

Previous entries:

Third Base

Shortstop

Second Base

First Base

Catcher

Left Field

Infield Summary