Looking At Mets’ Leadoff Hitter And Batting Order

As of now, New York Mets manager Terry Collins prefers outfielder Eric Young as his leadoff hitter, but telling ESPN nothing is etched in stone.

It never is this time of year.

ERIC YOUNG: First leadoff choice.

ERIC YOUNG: First leadoff choice.

If Young hits leadoff, and Chris Young – he of the $7.25 million contract – plays center and Granderson in right, the odd man out is Juan Lagares, arguably the Mets’ best defensive outfielder.

While Lagares prominently displayed his defensive abilities in center last season, he still has a lot to learn as a major league hitter, in particular learning the strike zone, being patient and going to the opposite field. Lagares’ 96 strikeouts with 20 at-bats and .281 on-base percentage in 421 plate appearances screams he’s not leadoff material.

Those numbers don’t fly anywhere in the order and he’s better off getting at-bats to learn those things on the minor league level rather than sitting on the bench in the majors. The Mets haven’t made that decision, but that would be the smart move.

Eric Young’s speed is a definite plus – he stole 38 bases last season – but his career .325 on-base percentage needs improvement. His 67-35 strikeouts-to-walks ratio last year is not acceptable for a leadoff hitter.

The Mets were 14th out of 15 teams in the National League in on-base percentage from the leadoff spot, so clearly improvement is needed. Young assumed the leadoff role in midseason after the Mets tried nine other options. NINE.

The non-productive nine were: Jordany Valdespin (16 games), Ruben Tejada (15), Collin Cowgill (nine), Mike Baxter (eight), Daniel Murphy and Omar Quintanilla (seven), Lagares (six), Justin Turner (three) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (one).

Valdespin, Cowgill, Baxter and Turner are out of the organization; Nieuwenhuis has fallen out of favor because of his propensity for striking out.

Tejada, Murphy and Quintanilla will make the Opening Day roster.

Collins indicated at the winter meetings if Tejada played to his potential he has the necessary skills to hit leadoff, but he’s still a project.

Assuming Eric Young hits leadoff, here’s the projected batting order for the Mets:

Eric Young: Is the Mets’ fastest player and their best base stealer.

Daniel Murphy: Has the patience and bat control to protect Young.

David Wright: The best hitter on a team, the best combination of power and average hits third. Wright has been his best hitting in front of an established power threat, whether it was Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado or Marlon Byrd.

Curtis Granderson: Theoretically, Granderson’s power potential should give Wright better pitches.

Chris Young: Will bat fifth to separate lefty hitters Granderson and Ike Davis.

Ike Davis: I am assuming Davis will make the team. Having him hit sixth should minimize the pressure on him.

Travis d’Arnaud: Showed little offensive presence last season. He’s no threat so pitchers might work around Davis, which, if nothing else, might help the struggling first baseman learn patience.

Ruben Tejada: At one time this guy hit .289. If he can reach that level again he could hit leadoff if Eric Young doesn’t pan out. Also, if he hits that clears the pitcher’s spot in the order and sets up the next inning.

But, that’s for now.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

9 thoughts on “Looking At Mets’ Leadoff Hitter And Batting Order

  1. Let us take this one by one

    EY is not a starter let alone a lead off hitter. He is a career 250 hitter, which on this team makes him a star.

    Lagares should be the starting CF and hit him where you want. He is the best CF on the team and arguably the best in the game. In the offseason he hit about 350 and later in the year hit better than 250. I think he should be given a legit shot to lose his spot.

    I don’t understand how Granderson is protection. He has ok power and hits south of 250. He may hit 200. How is that protection?

    Basically the team has 1/3 less legit hitters than a year ago because Byrd is not here. We needed to add bats this offseason and only added junk defined as hitters who are as good as the first baseman we tried to unload.

    • Dave: You are looking at E Young in the context of most teams, but these are the Mets we’re talking about. Eric Young is their best leadoff option right now. … As far as Lagares is concerned, he is nowhere close to being one of the best center fielders in the game. Not even close. Lagares can track down a ball, but he can’t hit on this level. If the Mets want him on the Opening Day roster, he has to play and they’ll have to take their lumps with him. If he doesn’t start, he has to go to the minor leagues. … Granderson is defined as protection because even in Citi Field he has power potential, and that will cause pitchers to be careful with Wright.-JD

      • I agree Lagares is not a complete player. But he plays a very good CF and throws out runners at the plate.

        His problem is hitting which has improved. In the middle of the year he did ok and the offseason he hit 350. He is young and has a lot to learn. But I rather he proves that he is not ready than pushing him in the minors. I want him to see mlb pitchers. I know what EY does and he is a sub. He is not a starter. Why have a sub as your lead off? He is just not good enough.

        • Dave: I like Lagares’s defense and speed, but he has to hit better on this level. That’s why I’ve been writing he might open the season in the minors rather that sitting up here. And, if he does start, they might not give him a long leash.-JD

  2. DAVE “Lagares should be the starting CF and hit him where you want. He is the best CF on the team and arguably the best in the game.”

    Arguably arguably the best in the game?DAVE u no zilch about baseball—-lagares hasn’t played a full season….i can name 10 centerfielders i’d rather see in citi on opening day

    • Please list 5 center fielders who play the field better than he does.

      List these guys who cover more ground, get to the balls and throws the runner out at the plate.

      My declaration is about fielding. I believe his hitting will come. He got better last year and in the offseason hit 350.

      He makes the team better on defense by far. No one on the team let alone the division can touch him in the field.