Opening up a three game series at home against the Braves on Tuesday night, it was supposed to be Dillon Gee against Alex Wood. From very early in the game you could see it was going to be Juan Lagares against the entire Braves team. Lucky for us, Lagares won that battle.
It’s been repeatedly discussed how good Lagares is from a defensive perspective. He is tops in the majors in many defensive metrics and is in the top twenty in major league baseball in overall WAR (ESPN).
On Tuesday night Lagares did what he does best over and over again. In the very first inning Lagares tracked down a deep ball off the bat of Jason Heyward and came in on one that could have easily fell for a base hit off the bat of Emilio Bonifacio.
His best catch of the night came on a line drive off the bat of the Alex Wood. Lagares dove and while it appeared as if it might have been a trap at first glance, Lagares didn’t come close to the trap. He got his entire glove under the ball and saved a sure base hit.
A more rare sight from Lagares has been his bat. After a blistering start to the season, his batting average has dropped off considerably to .279. Last night, Lagares belted one into the left field stands at Citi Field. It may have been the best looking homer of the young center fielder’s career.
“I’ve been working a lot to try to swing at good pitches, be consistent and try to finish strong” Lagares said after the game. Terry Collins added that “He’s got more power than he’s shown.”
During the SNY broadcast, Gary Cohen noted that Lagares crushes balls in batting practice. Clearly he has the power that Collins is referencing and at only 25 it will be interesting to see how it develops in the coming seasons.
One thing is certain. Lagares should be a shoe-in for a National League Gold Glove Award. He’s having an incredible season in the field and is becoming the standard by which other outfielders are judged. On Tuesday night, Lagares was just too much for the Braves to handle and with a little help from Dillon Gee and the bullpen, the Mets took game one of the series.