The Mets failure to find a leadoff hitter will cost Lagares playing time

By Steven Inmanima

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?

2 Comments

Steve – While I can talk about the who and why of who should get more playing time ERJ or JL, I am not yet ready commit because it will depend on which player hits better than the other player. For EYJ his SB potential can be the deciding factor especially if their averages, RBIs and OBPs are close. JL covers more ground in CF but EYJ was a gold glove contender for his 2013 LF play. By opening Day TC will have an idea and by 6/1 he will know a lot more. What is certain right now is that CG is a lock for RF who can also play CF and CY, EYJ and JL can all rotate between LF & CF depending on their individual offensive production. Finally, if EYJ performs well enough offensively then the competition could come solely between CY and JL for playing time in CF with CY having a power advantage over JL. In any case RBIs w/RISP should decide the everyday OF configuration because they can all defend but offense scores runs and runs win ball games. Thanks, Mike

Mike I’m not buying into EY Jr. being an elite defensive player like Juan Lagares is. I believe he got the nominee because there aren’t too many decent gloves in left field right now. I think EY is a valuable member of the Mets but he isn’t more than an average defensive player while Lagares has a chance to be one of the best defensive outfielders in the game. If Lagares can just hit .260 then he should be on the field everyday.

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