I am going to try to make the case that Ryan Sweeney could be the future of CF for the Oakland A's, an argument which, though of course debatable, I think is long overdue.
Let me first make clear that this is not a conclusion I had ever expected to come to. Since we first got Ryan Sweeney, I have felt that he was drastically overrated and just can't imagine him ever honing his swing so that those batting practice moon shots will happen during the game. I've always wanted Travis Buck given the shot over Sweeney in RF and think that those people who say "Sweeney is our best hitter!!!!111" are crazy...
Moreover, there has always been the thought that while Sweeney is a great RF, he is a subpar CF because of his bad routes taken to the ball.
But according to UZR, Sweeney has been an exceptional CF this year.
Now, UZR is known for its fluctuations in relatively small sample sizes, however it is also known for noticing and showing when players make improvements in their defensive skills and ability.
I think it is safe to say that Sweeney does indeed look much better in CF this year, obviously making the spectacular plays, but also he seems to be getting to balls he didn't get to last year.
UZR shows his range being worth 4.3 runs above average so far this year, up from -1.6 last year.
In total, 13.9 RAA / 150 games in CF, which rates him as one of the best defensive center fielders in the league.
Ryan Sweeney this year is on pace to be a roughly league average center fielder. Considering that he's cost controlled for a while longer, Sweeney is a valuable commodity in center field.
The point here is that what we really should be looking for in Sweeney's development is his continued progress on his defense in center field. Because as long as he keeps fielding like this, it doesn't matter whether he ever hits for power.