Kirk Nieuwenhuis Gets Leadoff Opportunity

An article by posted on February 21, 2013

Kirk NieuwenhuisSeveral days ago I gave you my idea for the Mets’ batting order and it included Kirk Nieuwenhuis as the leadoff hitter, so I was happy to read Adam Rubin’s story he will be given first chance to win that job.

Nieuwenhuis will be the leadoff hitter for Saturday’s exhibition game against Washington.

The Mets like Nieuwenhuis’ patience – he sees over four pitches an at-bat – and he had moderate success in the role last year hitting .264 with an on-base percentage of .303.

Both numbers need to be improved, but it must be remembered he did this in his first look at major league pitching.

Before their slide Nieuwenhuis played center and hit leadoff and Terry Collins remembered: “ … when we were playing really, really well, that guy was in center field. So he deserves the right to get the first shot.’’

Nieuwenhuis can steal the occasional base, but he’s not known as a steal threat. Steals can sometimes be overrated, but fundamental base running is always in vogue. Going first-to-third, realizing when a ball will go through, and running to avoid a double play are all critical components of good base running.

If Nieuwenhuis can hit over .275 with an on-base percentage of .350 in a fulltime leadoff role in his first full season, the Mets would take that in a heartbeat.

One thing that must change is his 25-98 strikeouts to walks ratio in only 282 at-bats and 91 games played. One of the most absurd statements I’ve heard is that strikeouts don’t matter, but they do. If Nieuwenhuis cut his strikeouts down to 50 in a similar amount of games played, that’s 48 at-bats in which he could have gotten a hit or walk, or advanced a runner with a productive out.

That is part of the fundamental culture Collins is trying to install, and essential if the Mets are to reach the next level.

METS NOTEBOOK: 

The MLB Players Association was in camp today. Union chief Michael Weiner said he believed the Mets would have prevailed in their protest of losing their 11th pick as compensation had they signed Michael Bourn. Water under the bridge now. Neither the Mets nor Bourn could have waited for a hearing. There needs to be a better system where a hearing can be heard immediately. Weiner also told ESPN the Mets need to increase their spending if they are to be competitive in New York. We’ve heard that before.

Brandon Hicks, who played for Oakland and Atlanta, is trying to hook on as a utility outfielder. The Mets like Hicks because of his versatility, having also played at second and the corner infield positions.

Jenrry Mejia’s visa problems have been resolved and he is expected in camp Friday or Saturday.

Daniel Murphy is back in camp after taking a cortisone injection in his right side. He’s expected to be out at least another week.

About the Author ()

I am an active member of the BBWAA and have covered Major League Baseball in several capacities for over 20 years, including ten in New York working the Mets' and Yankees' beat. I covered the Baltimore Orioles for eight years and the Cleveland Indians before that. Today I am a freelance writer and social director for several media outlets and the Senior Editor for MetsmerizedOnline.com.

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