Will the new-and-improved Juan Lagares keep up his current pace?

Maggie Wiggin, Contributor

In yesterday’s shutout loss to the Marlins, a rare event occurred – Juan Lagares didn’t have a hit.

In 19 starts this season, Juan Lagares has hit in 17 of them, the lone bright spot in an otherwise miserable offensive season for the Mets. His .826 OPS leads the team.

Lagares hasn’t lost a step since returning from the disabled list last week, hitting .321/.345/.500 since his return with an incredible five doubles in just 29 plate appearances.

MLB: Washington Nationals at New York Mets


The secret to Lagares’s success so far this season is a big jump in his line drive rate and many fewer ground balls.

He doesn’t have home run strength, so line drives are the key to his generating extra base hits. This type of power should continue to play well at Citi Field, where he can take advantage of big gaps in the outfield. If he can convert his natural speed into smart, efficient base-running, he could be a legitimate threat to hit triples as well.

There are a few red flags, though, that suggest Lagares still has some development to do.


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His batting average on balls in play is an unsustainable .400, so it’s not likely that his .316 batting average will hold up long term.

His strikeout rate hasn’t improved since last season, but the real concern is that his walk rate has actually declined to a terrible 3.6%.

Now it may be that he’s just getting a lot of pitches to hit right now, so the real test will come when his bat cools down for a while.

While he may not maintain this All-Star-level production, there’s no question that Lagares has far exceeded even optimistic projections so far and has rightfully earned his everyday role. His prowess at the plate also hasn’t seemed to cost him much on field, where he’s on pace for another exceptional defensive season. At a time when nothing seems to be working for the Mets, it’s a comfort to see a young, athletic player take a key position and run with it.




55 comments
stage52
stage52

Don't look now but we have lost every game but 1 since he is back in the lineup and EY is sitting on the bench.   Those who were so High on him being the lead off hitter had better think about this some more.  I would rather see EY get more playing time because the simple fact is that when EY was batting lead off we scored runs.  I am not saying take Lagarus out but think he is better suited to hit in the middle of the lineup.  EY has more value to this team then some fans give him credit for.  I think you have to start both of them.  They both have their place on this team.

thwacker
thwacker

0 for 6 last night against mediocre Philly pitchers. Lousy.

Kenneth Meltsner
Kenneth Meltsner

And let's remember, he was going to be platooned early in the season. He's still vulnerable to off-the-plate breaking stuff but he has made noticeable progress from last season. I would love to see him as a fixture in CF for the next five years.

Ronnie Taveras
Ronnie Taveras

While he may not be a typical leadoff hitter, I'm so glad Terry wasn't foolish enough to start EYJr. over him...I can see Lagares having a Mike Cameron-type career where he wins Gold Gloves and makes a few All-Star appearances, less pop than Cameron maybe little higher career BA. Can't be anything but be impressed by him, he's a fixture for our line-up today and for the  foreseeable future.

MMIAA
MMIAA

Maggie is still here?

Thomas Sean
Thomas Sean

Maggie is literally the only person on this site that posts anything remotely worthwhile. 

PanchoVilla
PanchoVilla

He's the only one on the roster who's developed.  Took the time and worked at his craft unlike Duda, Tejada, Ike, etc. The Mets don't have a better OF'er right now.  Captain "K"rap which you guys pine for stinks.  Sorry, Juan is here to stay...

Sean Mc D
Sean Mc D

I hate the babip argument -- good hitters that strike out have babies that are higher than the norm -- otherwise how could they be hitting around 300 if a significant portion of their abs are not put in play

Babip is something that you can compare to past results for the same hitter at the se level post development but to use it as a gauge on a developing hitter is ridiculous bc mathematically any 300 hitter that kid in 20 percent or so of their abs but isn't a guy hitting 30+ hr a year will need to have a babip of close to 400 and guess what

? Those guys exist

A high babip is an indication that a player hits to all fields, makes hard contact, hits line drives, and has a good idea of how to respond to what the pitcher is doing to him (ie hitting balls on the outside of the plate the other way, looking for balls to pull when there is a fast runner on first to take advantage of the hole, inside outing pitches, and going up the middle) ... It has some merit but overall the babip argument is overused and extremely flawed

cver
cver

At this point, the way he's come out of the gate, it's pretty tough not to love this kid.  Just got to hope for the best offensively.  Defensively, he's probably the best player we've had on our team for years, at least from what he's shown us and the sample at this point isn't so small.  It's not like a hitter going on a hot streak.  Kind of tough to pretend to have an arm or speed in the outfield like he has.

Sal
Sal

The dreaded "unsustainable BABIP" argument to predict decline or improvement.  In other words, he can't hit the ball like it owes him money forever.  Or conversely, you're probably not going to hit like garbage the entire year.


A complicated way of saying guys have variation in how well they hit the ball over the course of a year.


Bottom line is that he's the Mets best player right now. 

rstpigeon
rstpigeon

Can't we just enjoy one of the few players that's playing his best on this team?


Look at what Carlos Gomez is pulling with found power, a different stroke.There's nothing to say this kid can't work in the same direction. And I'll say this for him, it looks like he actually works to improve. Right now, I can't even say that about David Wright.

METS_BRO
METS_BRO

@maggie162 So you don't agree with the guy I met at a bar in Queens that says he's the next Roberto Clemente? Hah

mets2014
mets2014

i don't know...when e young was playing, the offense was still terrible, but at least they were scoring AND winning

NickDeBabylon
NickDeBabylon

@maggie162 Same old song. 2 years ago it was Nieuwenhuis. Before him Den Dekker or vice versa. Only the names change. Superlatives stay same

dave42
dave42

I'm as psyched as anyone, but are we pretending the .400 BABIP is legit? 

He's really not very good, he just looks great in comparison with the rest of these clowns.

Tarheel11
Tarheel11

You gotta love watching Lagares play CF. Just the way he runs ball down in the gaps. If his pitchers aren't hooking him up, they should be shot! 

hankincolo
hankincolo

Maggie, I believe I heard Kevin Burkhardt talking about the assessment of a hitting coach or manager yesterday who has worked with Lagares and that guy's opinon was he will develop homer run power. Did anybody else hear that comment? Am I wrong? 

Tarheel11
Tarheel11

Obviously his offensive numbers will come down. To expect otherwise is foolish. However, his defense won't come down. With his defense if he can hit .260+ with a good OPS (somewhere around .750) he is an absolute stud. I don't think he is lead off hitter going forward. He will probably develop a little power and eventually prove to be a 6 type hitter. But his defense is just too special to not be playing every day. Especially in this park with a team built around young power arms who usually by nature are fly ball pitchers. 

Put the kid out there and leave him alone. Hopefully his walk rate will go up and his SO rate down. He just needs to play.

gregf
gregf

Too bad Tejada couldn't take a hint from somebody like Lagares and try to hit line drives instead of trying to be a Toy Cannon and uppercutting everything to the short and mid-outfield ...

On a positive note, I like Lagares on both side of the ball and believe he can sustain both ... keep him out there!

Macacawitz
Macacawitz

I'll need to revisit this.  I've yet to get over that lousy throw he made yesterday at the most crucial moment of the game. 

drmetfan
drmetfan

Lagares will only get better. This kid is focused, a hard worker. His offensive game will improve as he gets the experience. 

JayZammie
JayZammie

@metsblog lagares #'s are what he's done in the minors the last 2 years so yeah, that's his bat not including adjustment struggles

kefhrny17
kefhrny17

And writes well, no grammatical errors!

DMMP
DMMP

@PanchoVilla  I'm going to disagree with this.  To say that Wright and Murph haven't "developed" is a real stretch.  Yes people just now a days consider them to be the steady guys that you mostly know what you're getting out of them (David Wright being the good-great player that he is with typically all-star production but nothing that says "superstar" except for some streches usually in the summer.) And Murph (Above average second baseman mostly due to his grit.) But there was a time when DW could have gone any path (and has had down years) who has developed into a pretty predictable player year in year out,  and Murph who went from "serviceable" to above average as far as second baseman go.  Good - Great really.  I'd call that "development."  People often forget these two cause they aren't ever really the issue. 

Sean Mc D
Sean Mc D

Also to be clear I do think lagares will regress some in that area but I hate the argument overall bc again if you even look at wrights career 343 babip you see that in his 30 hr seasons it's lower bc this hrs don't factor in babip but in a year like 09 when he only hit 10 hr but had a high Abe since those extra 20 hard hit balls were now sharp singles and doubles his babip sky rocketed to 396 ... Same amount of hard hit balls but the fluctuation was based more on how many made it over the wall and how many were just line drives to the gap -- long story short : there are simply too many non-luck variables to consider in the babip argument to use it to make any significant predictions

MMIAA
MMIAA

@Sal you can take all of Maggies posts change the names and it will all be the same. She doesn't understand baseball just stats......

DMMP
DMMP

@rstpigeon  Gomez and Lagares actually remind me a lot of each other.  Now... I'm not going to say Lagares is going to be Gomez (Gomez obviously broke into the majors at a younger age and is faster) HOWEVER I feel like they come from a similar ilk. Yes both were developed in the mets system...  And yes Gomez had much higher expectations from the onset.  But something about the two remind me a lot of each other. I just can't put my finger quite on it....

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

@mets2014 I have this magical rock I would like to sell you.  I guarantee it keeps dodo birds away from you.

Do you see any dodo birds around?

It must be working.

DMMP
DMMP

@NickDeBabylon @maggie162  Kirk had/has ZERO plus skills.  None.  He was going to be average at best, a great all around OF.  Almost every scout looked at him that way.  Now, an average OF in the majors is still a useful part and major league teams need that, but he had no extraordinary skills.  Lagares has a ++ Arm a ++ Fielding ability, a + running ability (that hopefully he can learn to translate into more steals), and clearly can hit the ball....  It's yet to be seen if he can develop his contact into power... And he also has something that I clearly think many statisticians undervalue... Drive.  Lagares works and works and works. He wants to be the best, and it shows in his performance.  It happens all the time in baseball, more than any other sport... A player comes out of no where to succeed. Heck, the mets throughout history have been full of guys that were never expected to be "Amazing" but ended up being great.  Everyone knows Piazza, but how about also Daniel Murphy?  I'd say he's at least in the top half of 2nd basemen in baseball...  13th round pick.  Or another 2nd baseman, Jeff Kent whom was drafted in the 20th.  Orel Hershiser was drafted in the 17th round... Bret Saberhagen was drafted in the 19th round!  Hell.  Keith Hernandez was drafted in the 42nd!   Or... if we want to look at other players/Teams... Matt Kemp... 13th round pick...  Kenny Lofton (Remember him?) was a 17th round pick!  We all know John Smoltz... could have had him, drafted in the 22nd round.  Everyone knows Pujols story.... drafted in round 13 with a very meh attitude towards that pick till he became the best player in baseball for a decade....  And finally, Nolan Ryan. I know I know... This is the guy we drafted in the 12th round.... TWELFTH!  And still traded for a bag of balls eventually.  GO figure.

mi
mi

Kirk didn't play cf like Juan

domtoretto
domtoretto

@hankincolo  They probably all say that.  Ask that same coach about Tejada.  He'll tell you he can definitely see him developing power too.

domtoretto
domtoretto

@Tarheel11  Umm, a .260 hitting outfielder even with great defense is hardly an "absolute stud".  Rey Ordonez hit .258 in his best year and won the gold glove at SS.  I would never have called him an absolute stud.  If Lagares can hit .300 with say 40 doubles, etc.  Then you might have more of a point.

nwmets
nwmets

@gregf  Sigh... someone on this blog or on SNY two years ago mentioned that Tejada might be uppercutting the ball, now that's ALL he ever does? You gotta laugh...

gregf
gregf

The most crucial moments of the game were all the zeroes the Mets put up when at bat ...

And also, if Recker digs the ball out, maybe Stanton IS out ... it wasn't one his great throws, but it wasn't lousy either ...

Bob G
Bob G

@Victor Triguero  I love your posts Victor…but I'd say that Matt has sold his soul to the Mets but perhaps his writers have a little more leeway...

mets2014
mets2014

@BringBackDaveTelghe @mets2014 Individual performances are nice and all, but I prefer wins...the bottom line is since the return of lagares the mets have won one game...call it coincidence, but when you take the leading scorer out of your lineup, you are going to score less hence win less games

PanchoVilla
PanchoVilla

@domtoretto @hankincolo  Umm, no they don't.  There is a difference...Lagares has the ability and swing to drive the ball.  Tejada can't hit a ball past 300 ft and he doesn't have the make up for that.  He needs to go up the middle and keep hits on the ground...line drives.  

Tarheel11
Tarheel11

@domtoretto @Tarheel11  Ok, maybe I got a little carried away! But to me from what he saves you a year by just his defense alone is something. I'd love to say he'll hit .300 but realistically I just don't see it. Regardless, if the kid hits .275 and plays the defense he does, he never sits. That should have been my point. 

Tarheel11
Tarheel11

@nwmets @gregf  What I don't get is everybody uses all these monkey a s s  type shifts now. Wouldn't it make sense for Tejada to move the entire outfield way in, especially the right fielder? Just seems like he drops in more little floaters right in front of the right fielder. With that kind of shift he'd probably hit .075!

Macacawitz
Macacawitz

@gregf  He has already set the bar very high.  From short right center he normally gets that ball in on the fly and throws  Stanton out by ten feet.  The last thing you expect from him is a three hopper to the wrong side of the plate.

Michael Frias
Michael Frias

@Bob G @Victor Triguero Matt writes with a much (almost to a fault) more optimistic approach, where Maggie's is much more neutral.  It's always been that way with Matt, even before SNY's "sponsorship".  They are both still diehards, but have different writing styles.

heynow20
heynow20

Dude, Ive read your posts and your just plain negative.  Anyone who is a true Mets fan that could knock Lagares at this point for a bang bang play is just f*cking ridiculous.  With fans like you...