Mets Matters: What Should Eric Young’s Role Be This Season?

eric young

(Updated 2/12)

Eric Young Jr. arrived for his first day at the Mets’ complex this spring wearing a new workout shirt, writes Kristie Ackert of the Daily News. In appropriate blue and orange, it had “Speed Swag” emblazoned across his chest.

Young spoke to reporters and in a short statement made clear that he doesn’t care where he plays as long as he’s in the lineup everyday and batting leadoff.

“That’s what I have been my whole life,” Young said of being the leadoff hitter. “This level, the major league level, all I can do is just play baseball and let them do their job and fit me in there.”

“Left field, right field, center field, second base, it doesn’t matter to me,” he said, “just as long as I am in the lineup.”

Terry Collins still considers Eric Young Jr. as his top candidate for the leadoff position in the batting order.

Sandy Alderson told MMO in December, that there may be some variation in the configuration of the outfield in 2014, likely with Curtis Granderson as the only everyday starter.

In other words, the Mets could go with a three-man rotation between Juan Lagares, Eric Young and Chris Young in center and right field. This system would allow for each to earn their playing time, similar to how Marlon Byrd became an everyday starter this past season.

Eric Young Jr. played 90 games in the leadoff spot for New York this past season and led the National League with 46 stolen bases between his time for the Mets and Rockies in 2014. That’s the good news. Young’s .249/.310/.336 slash line for the season is the bad news, especially for a leadoff hitter.

Sounds like another case for our MMO Roundtable:

What should Eric Young’s role be with the Mets this season?

David Conde – This is a great question because it means what happens with Juan Lagares. I really like what Eric Young brings to the Mets with his speed, but after what Lagares did on the defensive side, I would rather see him in center field, and allow him to prove that he can hit. Young would be a good bat off the bench and speed in later innings. He can also be the player that can back up not only the outfield, but also Murphy at second base. So in my mind Young is much more important as a utility player than a starter.

Joe Spector – On most teams he’s a backup. With the Mets he’s going to start somewhere. I love the energy he brings as it’s reminiscent of Jose Reyes a bit. If he can get on base and run, he could be an X factor.

Kirk Cahill – Young provides the most value to this team as a utility player. He can play any outfield spot, as well as 2B in a pinch. He’s got game changing speed that can come off the bench late in games and make an impact. He just doesn’t have the hitting ability or plate discipline to warrant an everyday spot. EY can really help your team in small spurts but gets exposed when he plays everyday.

Zack Drisko – Thus far, Eric Young Jr. has shown tons of speed and good defense at times. He can be a very useful role player for the Mets — seeing some time in the outfield, pinch-running — but unless he improves on his low-average, low-OBP game, I don’t think he should be much more. If Terry Collins starts using him as the Mets’ leadoff hitter, that’s a problem. If he is taking significant playing time away from Juan Lagares, that’s a problem. I think it can be alluring to see Young’s speed and dream of him being an elite table-setter, but until he develops the requisite skills to get on base at a high clip, I don’t think that is the best way to use him.

Jessep – I like his versatility, and how he impacted the lineup for a short time last year. If I had my way he would be the 2001 Joe McEwing. Just a guy who can go play anywhere he is asked or needed, whether it be 2B, LF, CF or RF. A guy who can come off the bench and allow guys in slumps or in need of rest to take the time they need without the lineup seeing an earth shattering change. I don’t believe he is an everyday player. I think after 400 big league games, it’s enough of a sample size to determine whether you are or aren’t an everyday guy.

DrDooby – Young Jr. has posted very nice minor league numbers wherever he has been but never really got an extended look as a starter until last season. He was okay but not special. In a perfect world, he´s a “super sub” who backs up at all three OF positions and at 2B while providing speed off the bench. Those players usually still end up with 400 AB per year because of injuries that open full-time roles for some stretches. If Juan Lagares shows an improved hitting approach, then Lagares should be the main CF. Which is why I’d probably relegate EYJ to the bench. If Lagares needs more time to work on his offense, then having Young start for half a season won´t be the end of the world either. In any case, he can be a very useful complementary piece going forward.

Gerry Silverman – EY will likely find his way into the lineup more often than not, as Terry Collins clearly values his speed and may likely look for opportunities to rotate him with Chris Young and Juan Lagares, particularly against tougher right-handed pitchers. Again, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a deal occur to open a slot, but I think Daniel Murphy is more valuable at second (and more likely to have a breakout year), and can’t imagine the team dealing Lagares with his youth and skill set. EY’s best role might be as the new Joe McEwing.

Robert Walsh – Young should start, leadoff and get 600 AB’s. A dynamic, exciting, energizing, gritty player who almost single-handedly changed the vibe of this team last year. Yes, he needs to work on pitch selection and be more patient with the count. Many Mets fans apparently want to disregard that he was a finalist for the Gold Glove, but he’s a very good, aggressive left fielder. If he hits .265 or .275, has an OBP of .325, steals 70 bases, and scores 80-90 runs, he would have had a very successful season for the Mets and become part of their longterm solution. With him stealing so many bases, he will more than compensate for the lower OBP.

Peter Anselmo – Fourth outfielder. If he’s starting over Lagares on opening day, I might boycott the rest of the season.

Tom Watson – Back-up outfielder, pinch-runner, trade bait at the deadline. Play Juan Lagares. Please Terry, play the future!

XtreemIcon – He’s a 4th outfielder and pinch runner.

Matt Balasis – Barring further changes in the roster, E. Young has to be considered our primary lead-off option. He led the league in steals for crying out loud.

John Ginder – This is a tough spot. I am a pro EY guy and thought he really did a decent job when we acquired him. I feel that the outfield on opening day should be EY, CG, CY. Ride that horse until it proves it doesn’t work and then make adjustments.

Dylan White – Eric Young has never particularly stood out when it comes to the raw numbers. His .325 career OBP is pedestrian and he has only contributed just over a Win Above Replacement in his four year MLB career. Where Young does stand out, however, is on the field. Young passes the “eye test” and is a joy to watch. He has speed, lots of it, and he shows it off in the outfield and on the basepaths. Young’s role this year should be to provide a spark, not only to the lineup but under all of his fellow teammates. Young should put pressure on his outfield partners Chris and Juan Lagares and show them that if they do not preform very well he will take their job. Due to his natural ability at Second Base, he can do this to Daniel Murphy as well. These players should know that if they falter, Young will take their role over in a flash.

Connor O’Brien – Fourth outfielder, period. Unless Juan Lagares proves to be a terrible hitter, the best three outfielders on the team are him, Curtis Granderson, and Chris Young. Eric Young has a place on this team for sure, and can probably get in 60 to 80 games, those three deserve to start over him. I loved what Eric Young did last season, but with a track record of being a well below-average hitter, I trust the three other outfielders more.

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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.