Good morning, Mets fans!
Great win last night. Juan Lagares is on my mind after getting the game-winning hit to help us beat the Braves, so let’s talk about him, and see if I can get through this entire article without making Juan single pun. Wait, never mind.
During the offseason and throughout spring training, the entire Mets community was abuzz with a raging debate in the outfield: Eric Young or Juan Lagares?
Juan Lagares has shown us from the start that he is one of the best defensive players in all of baseball. He has a cannon, good speed, a knack for reading the ball, and the ability to make incredibly acrobatic catches look easy (see my artistic rendering below of his amazing play from Wednesday night’s game).
However, Lagares wasn’t too good with the bat in his rookie campaign. For that reason, a lot of people in the organization were leaning towards giving Eric Young the 3rd spot in the outfield.
To me, the debate, “Young vs. Lagares, Bat vs. Glove”, was always based on a false premise. Why? Because in 2013, Eric Young wasn’t a very good hitter either. The second-baseman-turned-outfielder hit .251 after being traded to the Mets in June. As for speed? Yes, Eric is very fast, but Lagares is no slouch on the bases himself.
I’ve always thought Lagares was the better player. Fortunately, Juan was given the starting job in center field and hasn’t looked back. Lagares a clutch home run on Opening Day, and in our first 9 games, the 25 year-old Dominican outfielder is hitting .303 and has knocked in 6 runs. The glove has been great, but that was to be expected. It is the bat of Juan Lagares that has been the most pleasant surprise of the season’s opening stretch.
However, Eric Young definitely has a few things to bring to the table as well. Due to the injury to Chris Young, the Mets have been able to use both Eric and Juan for the first couple weeks of the season. If Chris returns soon, and stays healthy, the Mets will be faced with a choice. Curtis Granderson will not be heading to the bench, and Juan Lagares has been too good so far for Terry Collins to remove him from the lineup. Chris Young will probably be given a chance to take the job from Eric, and if he can hit like he did in the spring, the job should be his.
The Mets have a young, gold-glove caliber player in the outfield who has shown that he might be able to do some damage with his bat. After months of debate, Juan Lagares looks like the J— the one who belongs in center.
Enjoy your day, Mets fans. Get ready to stay up late to watch us play the Angels on the West Coast tonight. I hear they have a pretty good center fielder, too…