MMO Roundtable: What Should Mets Opening Day Lineup Be?

One of the topics that was discussed with Mickey Callaway during his first real meeting with the press during Spring Training is who exactly should be the Mets lead-off hitter.  Certainly, you can make the case Michael Conforto is the natural fit, and Jose Reyes has the track record.  However, Conforto is injured, and Reyes is now a utility player.

This leaves the Mets possibly thinking outside the box when it comes time to constructing their lineup.  Because choosing a lead-off hitter mostly makes sense when viewed through the prism of a complete lineup and because MMO always goes the extra mile, our staff answers the question what should the Mets Opening Day lineup be:

Michael Mayer

  1. CF Brandon Nimmo
  2. LF Yoenis Cespedes
  3. RF Jay Bruce
  4. 3B Todd Frazier
  5. 2B Asdrubal Cabrera
  6. C Travis d’Arnaud
  7. 1B Adrian Gonzalez
  8. SS Amed Rosario

Mets likely to face righty on opening day which is why I have Nimmo over Lagares. Though a lot of this can change; Dominic Smith could beat out Gonzalez and Plawecki could outplay d’Arnaud. Basically I want to see Cespedes in the two hole (see Mike Trout, Kris Bryant) until Conforto returns.

Mathew Brownstein

  1. CF Brandon Nimmo
  2. LF Yoenis Cespedes
  3. 2B Asdrubal Cabrera
  4. RF Jay Bruce
  5. 3B Todd Frazier
  6. 1B Adrian Gonzalez*
  7. SS Amed Rosario
  8. C Travis d’Arnaud
  9. P Jacob deGrom

With the Mets opening the season up against the St. Louis Cardinals at home, most likely facing right-hander Carlos Martinez, this would be my Opening Day lineup. Nimmo leading off due to his propensity for working the count and getting on-base last season. Cespedes hits in the two-hole as he is the best hitter on the team while Conforto is out rehabbing from injury. Bruce and Frazier are fourth and fifth and supply the power. Gonzalez or Smith bats sixth. I have Rosario seventh due to his stolen base capabilities and would rather have him in front of another hitter when on base. D’Arnaud hits 8th followed by Opening Day starter, Jacob deGrom.

Mojo Hill

  1. CF Brandon Nimmo
  2. 2B Asdrubal Cabrera
  3. LF Yoenis Cespedes
  4. 3B Todd Frazier
  5. RF Jay Bruce
  6. C Travis d’Arnaud
  7. 1B Adrian Gonzalez
  8. SS Amed Rosario

I chose to bat Nimmo leadoff because of his exceptional on-base skills, plus the fact that he’s the second fastest player in the lineup. There is no ideal second hitter, but I chose to put Cabrera there as a solid bat to set things up for Cespedes, arguably the greatest power threat in the lineup. I chose to put Frazier ahead of Bruce because of Frazier’s better on-base skills, but Cespedes-Frazier-Bruce is a strong, power-driven middle of the order. After that will either be d’Arnaud or Plawecki, and then I’m not expecting a whole lot out of Gonzalez at his age. And until Rosario proves he can get on base at more than a .271 clip, I don’t want him batting higher than eighth.

John Jackson

  1. SS Amed Rosario
  2. 2B Asdrubal Cabrera
  3. LF Yoenis Cespedes
  4. RF Jay Bruce
  5. 3B Todd Frazier
  6. C Travis d’Arnaud
  7. 1B Adrian Gonzalez
  8. CF Juan Lagares

The Mets don’t have a clear leadoff option now. Some people may think it’s crazy to bat Rosario leadoff to open the season, but no Met gets on base at such an impressive mark that would make me want to sacrifice speed at the top spot. Rosario still has a lot to prove, but he also has a lot to give and already showed in 46 games last season that he’ll be the best base stealer among his fellow starters.

Cabrera’s slashline of .280/.351/.434 with a little pop (14 home runs in 479 at-bats) makes him a solid option at the two-hole.

The 3-5 spots are easy to decide for me as they are reserved for the team’s three premier power hitters. We continue on with d’Arnaud in the sixth spot to keep the row of power hitters going. Smith is in this lineup over Adrian Gonzalez because Smith has lost the weight he was criticized for and put in a lot of work this offseason.

Therefore it’d be hard to imagine he loses the job in spring training based off performance alone. He may end up losing the job, but Gonzalez’ experience will likely be the biggest factor. I want Lagares in the eight-hole as he’s the only other starter with a little speed. He has only stolen as many as 13 bags (in 2014), but it wouldn’t be surprising to see a completely healthy Lagares snatch as many or more if given the playing time. With members of the eight-hole more likely to be intentionally walked, I’d rather have a little speed and no pop than some pop and no speed.

Ed Leyro

  1. CF Brandon Nimmo
  2. 2B Asdrubal Cabrera
  3. LF Yoenis Cespedes
  4. RF Jay Bruce
  5. 3B Todd Frazier
  6. 1B Adrian Gonzalez
  7. C Travis d’Arnaud
  8. SS Amed Rosario
  9. P Noah Syndergaard

Of course, if the Cardinals’ Opening Day pitcher is a lefty (last year, only one game was started by a southpaw) then Lagares would start in CF and perhaps bat leadoff or flip flop with Rosario.

Dilip Sridhar

  1. C Kevin Plawecki
  2. LF Yoenis Cespedes
  3. 2B Asdrubal Cabrera
  4. RF Jay Bruce
  5. 3B Todd Frazier
  6. 1B Adrian Gonzalez*
  7. CF Juan Lagares
  8. SS Amed Rosario

I’m a big believer in Kevin Plawecki and his new look swing. Plawecki had a .411 OBP and .391 wOBA after returning to the majors and statcast would indicate, it isn’t luck. Cepsedes hits second because the best hitter should hit second and Michael Conforto isn’t healthy. Cabrera gets on base at a high rate so he hits third. Bruce and Frazier at four and five makes sense. Gonzalez and Smith (I hope Smith) will figure to hit sixth. I have high hopes on the new and improved Juan Lagares fly ball swing. And Rosario hits eighth until he’s ready to move up in the order.

John Sheridan

  1. 2B Asdrubal Cabrera
  2. LF Yoenis Cespedes
  3. 1B Adrian Gonzalez
  4. 3B Todd Frazier
  5. RF Jay Bruce
  6. C Travis d’Arnaud
  7. CF Juan Lagares
  8. P Jacob deGrom
  9. SS Amed Rosario

With Lagares having the best glove on the entire team and a retooled swing, it would behoove the Mets to find out if he can really be the everyday player the team imagined he would be.  As a result, to start the season, he should be in the everyday lineup. If he doesn’t hit, Nimmo should take his place and lead-off.

With Lagares in the lineup, Cabrera should lead-off. Sure, he is slow; however, that is just one part of the equation. Of all the 2017 qualifying Mets on the Opening Day roster, Cabrera saw the most pitches per at-bat. With him atop the lineup, he’s going to give the rest of the team a look at the pitcher.

With Cespedes being the best hitter, he should hit second.  I know putting Gonzalez third is a risk, but it is a worthwhile one.  He was brought in to see if he could revive himself. He’s best able to do that by hitting between Cespedes and Frazier. More to the point, he’s going to feel more comfortable there, and the team showing him some deference could help.

Keeping Lagares in the lineup and Gonzalez third also gives you the best possible read on both players when Conforto gets off the DL.  At that point, we should have an idea as to whether Conforto needs to be in center, or if Gonzalez is done prompting the team to put Bruce at first.

One last note, while I personally do not like the pitcher hitting eighth situation, I felt it worked here. It would work better for Rosario being protected in the lineup by Cabrera rather than a pitcher. The hope is he sees better pitches, which in turn, could help him become more selective at the plate.

Overall, it seems our staff believes Nimmo should be the Mets lead-off hitter, and we agree on little else past that point. Is there any particular lineup that stands out to you?  Do you think you have a better lineup?  We look forward to continuing this debate in the comments section.

About John Sheridan 700 Articles
John was raised to be a Mets fan by birth, and now he is raising a Mets fan of his own. He also uses Sabermetrics to either confirm the proverbial eye test or to see if we're seeing things with Mets colored glasses. He looks forward to bringing this perspective to MMO. His work, including the tales of raising his son a Mets fan, can also be seen at MetsDaddy.com.