Sunday, March 13, 2005

Position Analysis: Center Field

Since he came up five years ago, Torii Hunter has amazed me more and more every year. He is a gifted, athletic center-fielder whose skills don't seize to throw me in awe. He is often compared to Kirby Puckett, but defensively, I think he may be better.

Torii Hunter is the best defensive outfielder in the major leagues. He never gives up on a ball. He throws all his energy and his body into every hit he goes after. He has a great arm. And he has made some of the most spectacular catches ever. Andruw Jones? Great, but not Torii. Same with Mike Cameron. I see him perfecting the art yearly and he's almost a guaranteed Gold Glove winner again this year.

At the plate, Hunter is inconsistent. Like many Twins hitters, he gets impatient and swings at some terrible pitches. But he's strong and has plenty of power to both sides of the field if he relaxes and uses it. If he can put it together, Torii is perfectly capable of .280, 30 HR, 100 RBI season. Oh, and he's also a great base runner. He does make mistakes, yes, but like with his defense, he never gives up and he puts all his energy into his running game as well. White Sox, last July anyone? I believe Manager Guillen said he wished he had that energy in his guys.

And thats what Hunter really does. He leads. And he has been evolving into a leader over the years and he's perfect for the role. He comes to the field every day and plays his heart out, and for that, he's one of the most respectable baseball players out there. Sure, he talks smack sometimes, but he backs it up. He wants the Twins to win, and with another healthy, good season from Hunter, the Twins should do just that.