Aaron Rowand / Andruw Jones; Who's Better?

John Dewan, the former president of STATS, Inc., recently published a book called "The Fielding Bible," which combines some classic fielding statistics with other factors that gauge throwing ability and range to come up with a ranking system of fielders at every position.

One of the interesting conclusions made in the book is that the top-rated center fielder of 2005 wasn't Andruw Jones or even Torii Hunter.

According to Dewan's book, the top-ranked center fielder is Aaron Rowand, now with the Phillies after being acquired in a trade with the Chicago White Sox.

"It's a zone thing, right?" Rowand said when told of the book's conclusion. "I don't know how they figure that stuff out, but it's definitely a compliment for someone to recognize the fact that I play good defense. I don't know what those numbers mean, but the bottom line is to go out and catch the ball."

It took a book for Dewan to fully explain the system, but the result is that the rankings are based on a plus/minus system. Rowand's "enhanced" plus/minus for last season was plus-30. By comparison, Jones was a plus-7 (ninth among center fielders) and Hunter was a plus-5 (11th, although Hunter rated second in 2004 and first in 2003).

Rowand, who came to the Phillies from the White Sox in the Jim Thome trade, had a reputation as a very good fielder. What he doesn't have is a Gold Glove on his shelf.

"Sure, you want to be recognized as a Gold Glove guy," he said. "But I'm about winning. I'm not too concerned about individual accolades."

"It's much more difficult getting a Gold Glove the first time than it is getting more than one."

Rowand wasn't a one-year wonder. Only Hunter had a higher rating than Rowand in center field over the last three seasons combined.

Rowand said his defensive prowess dates to his collegiate days, but it was in the White Sox system where he had a chance to work with Gary Pettis, whose ability to cover ground in center field for the Angels and Rangers earned him five Gold Gloves from 1985-90.

"He was the biggest influence," Rowand said. "He showed me everything fundamentally - getting reads on the ball. I learned most of what I know from him.

"The biggest thing is to keep your focus. You have to stay in the game. You have way too much responsibility in center to drift. In the outfield it's easy to take a pitch off every now and then, but if you do it and that one time the play is to you, you can lose a game for your team."

BY THE NUMBERS: 3 The number of errors committed by CF Aaron Rowand last season in 394 total chances.

News and Notes

Ryan Howard continues to test the tape measurers in Florida. His sixth-inning home run off David Riske on Friday hit two-thirds of the way up the 40-foot-high batter's eye behind the 410-foot sign in center field at Billy Smith Field in Fort Myers. The homer is Howard's fourth of the spring.

Tom Gordon (tight elbow) threw off the mound Friday morning and hopes to return to Grapefruit League action by late next week.

Abraham Nunez is struggling in his first spring training with the Phils. He is hitting .136 (3-for-22) after going 0-for-2 with a walk against the Red Sox on Friday.

He said what? "I want hitters to swing at my curve. That means it looks like a strike." - RHP Ryan Madson.

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