The Mets are an awkward team right now. They have a lot of good pieces but nobody seems to be performing to their capabilities lately. Except one guy. Juan Lagares has continued to play well each and every time Terry Collins decides to put him in the line-up (which is all too rarely might I add).
Lagares has what I like to call a .250 glove. What I mean by that is Lagares’ defense is so good, you can live with him hitting around .250. He’s easily one of the best defensive outfielders in the game and it makes a big difference when he’s out there. He makes difficult plays looks positively routine. Also, with Lagares in center field, Yoenis Cespedes gets to play in left where he won a gold glove in the AL last year. This makes the Mets that much better defensively in the outfield. And with their pitching staff, although not as dominant as we all had projected, it makes it extremely difficult to score against the Mets with their outfield defense lined up that way.
With all that being said, the knock on Lagares is that he can’t hit against righties. Well, I’ll fill you in on something really quick, Lagares is hitting .259 against right handed pitchers this year. While that’s not a great number, Curtis Granderson, who’s the Mets everyday right fielder, is hitting .240 against righties. Granderson is also no where NEAR the defensive player that Lagares is and he also isn’t as much of a threat to steal a base as Lagares is. And despite all of that, Granderson has never hit lower than fourth in the order this season. But let’s not make this an attack on Granderson. Lagares still wasn’t getting playing time while Michael Conforto was in the slump of all slumps and playing less than stellar defense in the outfield.
It just seems strange to me that Lagares continues to get the short end of the stick even though he has outperformed some of his teammates this season. I would not blame him at all if he was hanging his head in frustration. But he’s not. He has been the ultimate professional. He has simply stayed ready and played well when called upon. Lagares is still just 27 years old and has room to improve. With his gold glove caliber center field defense coupled with the fact that he has outhit Granderson and Conforto this year, it makes no sense that Lagares can’t find his way into the line-up everyday. The Mets are in win now mode and they need players who are going to help them do that. What ever happened to the best players play? The same goes for Jose Reyes playing over Wilmer Flores. That’s another story all together. Terry Collins’ managing this season has been questionable at best and quite frankly, he may the person holding this team back from fulfilling their potential. I’ll have more to say about Collins at a later date but for now, I just felt the need to stick up for my man Lagares. He’s a really solid player who has, in my humble opinion, played himself into the line-up. Clearly Collins doesn’t agree. Let’s hope Terry’s right and I’m wrong.
Image from: https://www.sny.tv/mets/news/juan-lagares-is-playing-winter-ball/158465368