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Yankees fans want Judge in center field, are disinterested in Jurickson Profar

With Harrison Bader hurt, Yankees fans would like to see the MVP replace him in center field.

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MLB: Spring Training-Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Yankees Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across Major League Baseball. Each week, we send out questions to the most plugged-in New York Yankees fans, and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts.

The Yankees are no stranger to injuries this spring. The rotation, the bullpen, the catching position, and center field. And it’s only mid-March. Harrison Bader’s injury deprives the Yankees of an elite defensive center fielder who showed some pop with his bat in the 2022 postseason. So the question was posed to Yankees fans: who should man the grassy expanse in center at Yankee Stadium while New York awaits the return of Darth Bader?

Kyle Thele

I don’t think anyone should be too surprised by the outcome of the vote, except maybe that Judge only walked away with a plurality of the vote, rather than a majority. Judge acquitted himself well in center last season, playing 77 games there, more than he played in right field.

Two other internal candidates gathered reasonable support. Estevan Florial, who’s played center field throughout his career, and Oswaldo Cabrera, who played there for the first time this spring, though the latter has shown how rapidly he adapts to new defensive positions since joining the major league roster last season. Meanwhile, there is almost zero appetite to return Aaron Hicks to center field, the position he primarily played when the Yankees acquired him from Minnesota.

Sticking with the outfield theme, Yankee fans also chimed in on whether they want the club to pursue free agent Jurickson Profar, who played the vast majority of his games in 2022 in left field.

Kyle Thele

It’s likely that the disinterest in Profar might have more to do with fan feeling regarding him, rather than a satisfaction with the state of left field, where Hicks is currently thought to have the inside track on the starting job. The lack of interest in Profar is perhaps surprising, given that he’s a defensively versatile switch-hitter who’s been an above-average hitter in two of the last three seasons, with 2022 his best full season of his career. On the other hand, he’s not exactly a Platinum Glove, regardless of position. His stat line is littered with negative dWAR values. Regardless of the motivation, the fans have spoken.

Meanwhile, the World Baseball Classic is the large story that has fans captivated, and the polls below get a sense of how baseball’s fandom is thinking about the tournament.

(Note: The three polls below were targeted at baseball fans writ large, and also went out before the Dominican Republic was eliminated.)

Kyle Thele
Kyle Thele
Kyle Thele

If the fans are sages, this looks like a two-horse race, with Japan and the US the favorites to emerge victorious at the end of the WBC. There’s also a large level of interest in the tournament, with nearly 60 percent of surveyed MLB fans saying they are tuned into the action. Finally, the team rosters eked out the fan bases/cheer sections for the honor of the best aspect of the WBC. No one should be shocked by that final result, considering the talent playing for the nations competing at the WBC.