The Mets don’t know the ceiling for Juan Lagares, but are banking it will be high considering they signed him to a multi-year deal.
When first thinking of Lagares you envision defense, but every once in a while he’ll do something at the plate that makes you wonder just whom the Mets have in their fold. Both good and bad.
Such was the case Sunday with his three-hit game, including a go-ahead homer, that enabled the Mets to beat Atlanta. Lagares is a good athlete, very strong, which of course, leads to conjecture as to his potential power numbers. Mets brass suggested this spring he had 25-homer power potential.
Sunday’s homer was just his third of the season.
It’s too soon to attach pressure-laden projections on him. Before Lagares can be a consistent power hitter he must first learn to be a consistent hitter. So far he’s not. Not even close.
Lagares has been on a hot streak, which raised his numbers to a .278 average, paltry .306 on-base percentage and .674 OPS. He has drawn only nine walks compared to 49 strikeouts, numbers that must drastically change before he’s to be regarded as a professional hitter.
I can’t help but wonder if Lagares’ progression as a hitter wasn’t stunted by the Mets’ decision heading into the season to drop him from the leadoff slot, this after a strong spring training. During the spring Lagares showed marked improvement at being selective, working the count and going to the opposite field – all essential attributes needed for a leadoff hitter.
Hitting first places a premium on reaching base, and those are the most essential skills needed for any hitter. However, whatever patience Lagares was cultivating became quickly scuttled and he’s floundered. Sunday was an encouraging sign, one saying it is within him to be dangerous hitter.
But, he’s far from that now.