Dodgers: Ranking the Top 5 centerfielders in franchise history

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: Matt Kemp #27 Dodgers celebrates after hitting 3 run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium on September 1, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) ***Matt Kemp
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: Matt Kemp #27 Dodgers celebrates after hitting 3 run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium on September 1, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) ***Matt Kemp /
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BROOKLYN, NY: Centerfielder Duke Snider of the Brooklyn Dodgers (Photo by Kidwiler Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images) /

1. Best Dodgers centerfielders: Duke Snider

Shocker, right? If your name appears in the title of a song about legendary baseball players, you’re probably pretty good.

Edwin Donald Snider was signed out of Compton High School by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1943. After working through the Minor Leagues and serving in WWII, Snider landed the starting center field job in 1949. He made a strong first impression, hitting .292 with 23 homers, but he really took off the following season. The Duke started a string of seven consecutive All-Star appearances, hitting .321 with 31 doubles, 10 triples, 31 homers, 107 RBI, and 16 stolen bases.

Snider became the focal point of an already potent Dodger lineup, and was an integral piece during 6 playoff runs, two of which culminated in World Series wins. During his All-Star run, the Duke hit as high as .341, hit as many as 43 home runs, and drove in as many as 136.

Snider’s dominance led to a debate between the three New York centerfielders of the era: Willie, Mickey, and the Duke. Obviously Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle have more hardware and longevity, but things get a lot closer if you look at just their prime years.

Speaking of hardware, Snider somehow managed to end his unbelievable run without an MVP award. He finished as high as second in 1955 to fellow Dodger Roy Campanella in a very controversial vote. There was some uncertainty regarding the balloting that appears as if it will never be cleared up, but we do know that Snider had a career year, leading the league in runs and RBI and finishing with an OPS of 1.046.

Snider continued to be an effective player after his All-Star streak, although a bad knee, combined with the cavernous dimensions of the LA Coliseum, limited his power and time on the field. He did his .302 with 23 homers in the Dodgers second season in Los Angeles, but he’d play in a part-time role the rest of his Dodger career.

dark. Next. Top 5 third basemen in Dodger history

The long-time Dodger favorite was sold to the Mets following the 1962 season, and was an All-Star for the final time his lone year in Queens. Snider finished his career the following season with the rival Giants, primarily as a pinch hitter. He may not have the long-term greatness to carry his weight in the Mays vs Mantle vs Duke debate, but there’s no debate that Duke Snider was the best Dodger to roam center field.

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