The other night, I received a seemingly cryptic email from my older brother. The subject was, “This is idiotic.” I opened the email to uncover exactly what I thought I’d find: a smack-my-head worthy link about the New York Mets. It’s a long-withstanding family tradition to share these types of things, after all.
Specifically, per Collins:
We’ve got three guys that can play center field that we know of and by gosh the best one is going to be out there because it’s a big position.
One can only assume he means Chris Young, Eric Young Jr. and incumbent Juan Lagares. But since Chris Young was inked this offseason to a $7.25 million contract—and is projected to play a corner—it appears as though only one of EYJ or Lagares will be a starter. And this, folks, is silly.
In just 421 plate appearances last season, Lagares managed to post a 3.7 bWAR. It certainly wasn’t due to his paltry offense, either, as the 24-year-old hit to the tune of a .242 batting average, 4.7 percent walk rate and park-adjusted 80 OPS+.
Lagares’ high-caliber wins above replacement in 2013 was, of course, a product of his elite defense.
In fact, the Mets’ farm hand was the sixth best defender in baseball (with at least 800 innings), according to the Fielding Bible.
(above DRS sorted by position, not cumulative season DRS).
Yet, even with such a valuable commodity—one that a fan who’d rather burn a Bible than cite the Fielding Bible could identify—the Mets are seemingly blind to it.
To play optimistic fan for a moment, perhaps Collins is just bluffing. Maybe Collins’ public announcement was just a ploy to light a fire under Lagares’ backside so as to not make the second-year player a cocky one.
But how about if Collins is being transparent and the organization is serious about not using the slick fielder as a starter? The result: simply, less wins.
|Eric Young Jr.||-0.2||1.2||0.9|
Per Steamer, Oliver and ZiPS, Lagares projects to be a vastly superior player than EYJ in 2014. Despite the obvious, Collins apparently still prefers to use Young, who led the National League with 46 stolen bases in 2013, as the team’s lead-off man, according to NY Daily News’ Kristie Ackert.
Using Young in the lead-off position would undoubtedly add unique speed atop the Mets’ lineup; speed the team has not seen since Jose Reyes. But if Young’s speed is utilized at the cost of benching (or optioning) Lagares, it would hurt the team’s ability to win games.
And considering Baseball Prospectus (subscription needed) projects the 2014 Mets to win just 73 games with Lagares starting 55 percent of the time in center, they’ll need all the help they can get.