The way things currently stand, the New York Mets don’t have a leadoff hitter. They tried nine last season before settling on Eric Young.
The signing of Curtis Granderson sends Young to the bench, that is, unless the Mets trade Daniel Murphy and move Young to second base. However, the Mets are asking a lot for Murphy, so there’s nothing imminent there.
Chris Young has the speed, but strikes out too much to be a consistent leadoff hitter. Juan Lagares also has speed, but also strikes out too much with a 96-20 strikeouts-to-walks ratio in 392 plate appearances. The Mets would want somebody with better than a .281 on-base percentage at the top of the order.
“We talked last year about Murph maybe leading off, but I haven’t gone there,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “I know Chris Young led off some in Arizona. But until, again, I see what the pieces are in the clubhouse, I don’t have to write a lineup until the end of February.’’
An intriguing possibility is Ruben Tejada, that is, if he plays the way he did two seasons ago.
“If Rueben Tejada does what we know he can do, he could be that guy because he gets on base,’’ Collins said. “He gives you great at-bats and gets on base.’’
If not Tejada, Eric Young could resurface if Lagares doesn’t pan out, which is a distinct possibility. Lagares was impressive in center field, but his offense is lacking. There has been some thought of him in a platoon role, which would be a mistake.
If Lagares is on the 25-man roster leaving spring training, he needs to play. Playing off the bench is counterproductive to his development. But, if he plays, he needs to hit. What he gave the Mets last season at the plate won’t cut it.
“I don’t know what it will be. I don’t know that you can put a number to it,’’ Collins said of Lagares’ offensive potential. “He’s a guy defensively. But in order for us to have the success we want, everybody’s got to hit.’’
Quite simply, the Mets aren’t good enough offensively to carry Lagares. He hits, he plays. If not, he should open the season in the minor leagues.