Is Juan Lagares An Everyday Center Fielder?

juan lagares


Mets righthander Dillon Gee credits his improved performance to his defense because he doesn’t have to be afraid to pitch to contact, he especially singles out Juan Lagares.

“It gives you confidence to keep attacking because you know you’ve got guys out there that are playing hard and making all the plays for you,” Gee said. “Juan tracks down everything out there in centerfield. It helps having that. Other than that, I’m throwing the ball probably the best I’ve really ever thrown it.”

Now after pimping Juan Lagares on MMO for the last two years, you didn’t think I’d let yesterday’s incredible defensive performance go unchecked did you? Check out one of his many amazing grabs in yesterday’s win over Minnesota…

I smile whenever I see Lagares make plays like that and it reminds me of when I asked the producers at SNY and their minor league analyst Toby Hyde last March why they spend so much airtime on Brandon Nimmo and yet none on Juan Lagares or Rafael Montero. “Because average Met fans don’t care about Juan Lagares or Rafael Montero… They just want to know about Nimmo, Wheeler and D’Arnaud.”

I bet they’d love to take those words back…

On Monday, Joel Sherman of the NY Post spoke to a baseball official who compared Juan Lagares to Michael Bourn:

Lagares has really impressed me, and our scouts and I think he’s a much better value — and very likely a better player than Bourn for 2013-2016.

He isn’t as polished right now, but he may be the best defensive center fielder in the NL right now with apologies to Andrew McCutchen.

He’s a young, cheap, high-upside piece for the future. I would rather have Lagares through 2016 than Bourn independent of the money because the former has more upside and is younger and will continue to improve.

Actually, that was a quote from me back in April – Nah, just kidding, I only called him the best defensive outfielder in the entire Mets system back then…

I love how some of the fans I follow on Twitter laughed when I said he was better than Matt den Dekker, and now these same people compare him to Andruw Jones, Tommie Agee and Carlos Beltran…. (Note to SNY: It’s Tommie not Tommy)

I’m not the least bit worried about his bat… He’s young and you can see him making adjustments and working things out. After hitting the ground running in the month of June and then slumping, he stepped in closer to the plate and responded with a .353 average in July. He’s now seeing a healthy diet of inside pitches as they try to back him off the plate, and Lagares has slumped badly in August batting .227. But he’s made another adjustment after some time in the cage with Dave Hudgens and is now 4-for-12 in his last three games and also got robbed of a couple of hits in that span.

Also this from ESPN’s Mark Simon:

Juan Lagares had a great game on the defensive side in Target Field with a couple of nifty catches, one of which should be under strong consideration for a No. 1 Web Gem from Baseball Tonight. The Mets entered Monday with the most No. 1 Web Gems of any team with nine.

Lagares, with 20, ranks second among major-league center fielders in Defensive Runs Saved. That measures ability to turn batted balls into outs and the deterrent value of throwing arms. Only former Mets outfielder Carlos Gomez has more (27).

I wrote Mark and added that Gomez had played 400 more innings than Lagares and had over 140 more fielding chances. Lagares could easily be the league leader if Terry Collins has simply stayed out of his way and played him…

At 24 and with nothing but upside ahead of him, Lagares has cemented himself in centerfield and expect Terry Collins to start utilizing some of his great speed at the top of the order before this season ends. As I’ve said before, the Mets have a lot of things they need to fix in the upcoming offseason, but centerfield isn’t one of them.

About Joe D 8028 Articles
I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73, '00 and '15, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.