January 31, 2014

The Lagares vs. Young Debate: A View From the Devil's Advocate.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I like playing devil's advocate often when I choose to write about something.  I am pretty open minded about things, and like to look at different alternatives for the sake of debate.  So I'll put it out there and say like most of you, I would rather have Juan Lagares starting in centerfield in 2014. However, Terry Collins came out and said recently that Eric Young may be his lead off hitter in 2014. As expected, there was plenty of backlash on this on Twitter.  Honestly though, if Eric Young was playing everyday and batting lead off, would the Mets be that much worse off?

Photo: BloggingMets.com
Eric Young is a borderline starter, but projects more like a lead off hitter at this point than Lagares.  Young is more patient at the plate, so despite lacking the power it takes to constantly hit the ball solidly, he does draw walks and has an OBP almost 70 points higher than his batting average for his career. Lagares had a small sample size, so it's impossible to judge what kind of player he will be based on 392 at bats.  But he was a very aggressive swinger who didn't take many pitches and struck out more than you'd want in a lead off man. He didn't show much more patience in the minors either, despite not striking out at the same rate.  But this is common in young players.

What Lagares has that Young doesn't though, is the ability to make solid contact and drive the ball.  He can hit the occasional home run, and can go gap to gap with line drives.  So it's not all that bad, and you hope at 24 years old, there is room for improvement.  He hit well in a recent stint in the Dominican Winter League, winning the award for being the top rookie.  His lack of patience didn't take the winter off though, while down there.

I'm not going to compare the two defensively.  It'd be just silly. Lagares can be a gold glove center fielder with his tools.  He's electric out there, and has a great arm.  Eric Young, despite being nominated for a gold glove, isn't the outfielder that Lagares is. Young isn't a slouch out there though. So despite Lagares being superior in the field, I don't think this necessarily warrants an automatic slot into the starting line up.  It's not like the Mets will be trotting out Lucas Duda and an older Carlos Beltran in the outfield opening day.  The Mets have Curtis Granderson and Chris Young on the roster, both who have been very good center fielders through their careers.  With the ground they can cover, you can live with Eric Young playing out there as well, and it's still a solid defensive outfield.

Like I said earlier, I'd prefer Lagares to be the every day center fielder.  I think that at 24 years old, he can improve at the plate, and hope that he can develop into the lead off hitter that the Mets desperately need.  But if Terry Collins decides that he wants Eric Young to be the regular lead off hitter, I'm not going to be upset about it.  If this comes to fruition, I just hope it doesn't come at the expense of at bats for Lagares.  I hope the Mets are smart enough to start Lagares in AAA to get his work in.

@ me tho - @GetsThruBuckner

1 comment:

  1. Another problem, is moving a weak armed Granderson to Right, another weak arm in E Young to left. Whereas with Lagares in Center and Young in right you have much better throwing arms in a spacious outfield at Citi