Juan Lagares is covering lots of ground in center field and Mark Simon of ESPN New York has the clear and convincing evidence of just how much better Lagares has been over every other Mets center fielder.
“The average center fielder makes an ‘out of zone’ catch every 14 innings,” he says. “Juan Lagares has made one every seven innings, basically amounting to one per game.”
“Those catches add to Lagares’ value, though they’ve come at a cost of letting some balls drop in within his zones. The net payoff has been good, particularly when you factor in that he’s also thrown out four baserunners attempting to take an extra base. And the Mets are adjusting to the player they have.”
“It changes a lot when you’ve got a center fielder who can go get it in center field.” ~ Terry Collins
When we released our Top 25 Mets Prospects in January I ranked Lagares No. 21 which agitated some prospect aficionados. He was left off many a list, but in Lagares I always saw a tremendous toolsy athlete who could hit and pick it in the outfield. I loved this particular gem:
You need to really know the system to start doing top 25. Putting Lagaras anywhere on it speaks volumes. Having him at 21 is nuts. He’s just not a good outfield prospect. He’s not fast enough for center and doesn’t have enough power for a corner outfield spot.
On a few occasions before his promotion I wrote how some in the organization told me that they felt Lagares was better than Matt den Dekker in center field. Any questions?
After being jerked around by Terry Collins and left to squander on the bench, many were willing to give up on him when Lagares ended May with a .214 average in very sporadic play. When it finally dawned on Collins that Lagares might be his best defensive and offensive center fielder, he started playing him more regularly in June and the kid responded and is now batting .291 with a .418 OPS in 55 at-bats so far this month. A far cry from what we saw in Collin Cowgill, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and others.
Keep playing Lagares, Terry… We may have another keeper here….