Amazin’ Avenue recently wrote that as currently constructed, the Mets’ outfield could be a whole lot better than many expect.
They go onto build a good case that Lucas Duda in left can be at least league average (offensively), Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill can pair up to be league average as well, and a Mike Baxter & Andrew Brown platoon in right field could possibly be very productive. A look at their accompanying chart would appear as though the benchmark for mediocrity may not be all that difficult to achieve. But let’s examine this a little more closely.
Here are the Mets’ team averages by outfield position for the same stats AA used except for wRC+ and wOBA which I haven’t a clue what they are or how to calculate them. However, I’m confident that the century-old standbys I used will illustrate my point just as well and quite succinctly:
2012 Mets Outfield By Position
LF: .222 AVG – .277 OBP – .384 SLG – .661 OPS – 6.8 BB% – 28.3 K%
CF: .247 AVG – .326 OBP – .384 SLG – .710 OPS – 10.1 BB% – 26.3 K%
RF: .245 AVG – .323 OBP – .391 SLG – .714 OPS – 9.3 BB% – 27.6 K%
If you take Scott Hairston out of the equation those numbers would plummet even further. Hairston’s contribution to the Mets’ overall production in the outfield last season, cannot be understated. Eliminating left field to offset Jason Bay who also won’t be back, here is how Hairston produced in center and right field:
CF: 39 PA – .250 AVG – .308 OBP – .611 SLG – .919 OPS – 7.1 BB% – 12.8 K%
RF: 156 PA – .300 AVG – .321 OBP – .520 SLG – .841 OPS – 2.6 BB% – 22.1 K%
Long story short, the Mets outfield would have posted a horrific .598 OPS without Scott Hairston in the equation. That’s a pretty scary thought.
The Mets outfield will have to produce approximately 150 points more in OPS just to be mediocre, or as the saberists say, “replacement value”, and they will have to do it without Hairston.
The two replacements for Hairston (and Bay) look to be Collin Cowgill (.631 career OPS) and Andrew Brown (.679 career OPS), who only have a combined 131 games of major league experience. I’ve seen and read many a recent post extolling both of their amazing virtues, astonishing upsides, and incredible intangibles, but forgive me for remaining somewhat skeptical as well as hopeful.
Both Cowgill, 27, and Brown, 28, are long past their prospect status, and additionally, the Mets will be the third organization for each of them. Cowgill played previously in the Arizona and Oakland systems, while Brown comes to us after stints in St. Louis and Colorado.
So to answer the question of whether it can get any worse in the outfield for the Mets in 2013, the answer is that I honestly don’t know…
But I certainly don’t see enough evidence to breed any confidence that things will be better.