The Mets failure to find a leadoff hitter will cost Lagares playing time
The Mets came into the offseason with many holes but mainly two glaring needs; they needed power and a leadoff hitter. They handled the power aspect decently but completely failed to find a leadoff hitter. They looked into many different players but weren’t able to secure a player who could hit at the top of the order. They really haven’t had a player who could do that since 2011 when Jose Reyes left as a free agent. SS Stephen Drew would fit that category but Mets GM Sandy Alderson has said this week that it is unlikely that Drew would end up a Met. “I think that Stephen will always have other opportunities,” Sandy Alderson said Wednesday.
With no leadoff hitter acquired, Terry Collins will likely rely on Eric Young Jr. playing most days in left field and leading off. That would also move Chris Young to centerfield. More importantly that would cut into Juan Lagares’ playing time as new free agent acquisitions Curtis Granderson and Chris Young will obviously play every day. Lagares was a dynamic centerfielder last year and if he can just learn to hit .265 he will become a star for the Mets.
That won’t happen however if he is sitting on the bench. While EY Jr. got off to a hot start when he got to the Mets he didn’t hit much after and should be a bench player going forward. A good bench player, but still a bench player. It also would be nice to have Young Jr. on the bench as a pinch running weapon late in close ball games.
Lagares despite a poor .281 OBP, posted a three win season for the Mets according to WAR in just 121 games. That was second among Mets behind David Wright. For the Mets to be the best they can be Lagares needs to play every day. Spring Training performance will determine early season at bats but as of now it looks like Young Jr. will cut into Lagares playing time.
Who should get more playing time next year Eric Young Jr. or Juan Lagares?