Eric Young Jr. could be the Mets’ leadoff man in 2014, over Juan Lagares or any other players, Terry Collins said (Rubin).
But, “anything is possible,” Collins said.
Young Jr. and Lagares could see a competition or platoon in center field, heading into Spring Training.
In 2013, in 91 games with the Mets, Young hit .251 with a .318 OBP. Lagares, over 121 games, hit .242 with a .281 OBP. Young posted a 79 OPS+, a 0.9 bWAR and 0.8 fWAR. Lagares had an 80 OPS+, with a 3.7 bWAR and 2.9 fWAR (Wiggin).
When batting leadoff last season, in 122 games between the Rockies and Mets, Young hit .254 with a .318 OBP, while Lagares appeared in just seven games batting in the first position, posting a very small sample size line of a .207 average and .233 OBP.
Michael Baron, ContributorLagares is a superior center fielder to Young, so he is owed every opportunity to improve at the plate. His defense alone contributes to winning by his ability to cover ground, throw runners out and save runs. Young may handle the bat a bit better, but he showed last year he is not an everyday player.
Maggie Wiggin, ContributorYoung Jr. doesn’t offer sufficient skills, on either side of the ball, to warrant a spot in the everyday lineup. While that may mean the Mets don’t have a prototypical leadoff hitter, creativity can provide them with plenty of production from that spot.
Daniel Murphy is another option to leadoff . He’s far from perfect as he only had a .319 OBP last year, but for his career, it’s .333 and he’s a smart baserunner.
If the team is open to tweaking the lineup based on the opposing pitcher, he would make an excellent leadoff platoon with Chris Young, who also has some speed. Murphy’s OBP against righties is .344 and Chris Young’s OBP against lefties is .363.
Mostly, I think the team would do well to focus less one what a leadoff hitter is supposed to look like, and focus on putting the eight best players out on the field.
Andrew Wharton, ContributorI’m not willing to sacrifice defense in by swapping Young Jr. for Lagares at this point. You have to give a guy like Lagares every chance to prove he can hit at this level because his glove is phenomenal. Young Jr. has good speed and can play multiple positions, so he’s perfect for a role coming off the bench as a fourth outfielder and pinch runner. Anything more could be stretching his value.
I’m starting to warm up to the idea of Murphy leading off. I have been against this move in the past because of his declining on-base percentage. In 458 career plate appearances leading off an inning, Murphy’s hit .309 with a .360 OBP and .531 SLG, so my original assessment was incorrect. He’s certainly shown an ability to perform in that role, and I believe he should be given the opportunity to sustain that production, just like Lagares should be given a chance to play everyday at the major league level.