Does Matt Den Dekker deserve a roster spot?

With Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ knee injury and his overall ineffectiveness during the second half of 2012, the Mets should look to other options to fill out a center field platoon with Collin Cowgill.  The best and perhaps only other candidate the team has is Matt Den Dekker.

After being selected in the fifth round of the 2010 draft out of the University of Florida, the word on the street about Den Dekker was that he was a Gold Glove-caliber defender.

The reviews of his bat, however, were not as glowing.

In two full seasons in the minor leagues, Den Dekker has done little to dispel those concerns.  He has consistently posted K-rates in the mid-to-high twenties, and looked absolutely lost in AAA Buffalo last season posting a .220/.256/.373 slash line.  No, that is not a typo; he actually had a .256 OBP in 317 plate appearances.  Using the Major League Equivalency Calculator, that translates to a .218 OBP.

Here’s a list of all non-pitchers to post a .218 OBP or lower with at least 300 plate appearances in the live ball era: Paul Casanova (1968), Mike Ryan (1968), Rob Piccolo (1977), and Mario Mendoza (1979).  17, 653 player-seasons, only those four were as bad as Den Dekker would have been.  It is exclusive company, but not the good kind.

If there is a silver lining in this, it is that this futile line from half a season in Buffalo is likely an aberration, as he’s posted OBPs over .300 at every other stop in the minors.  His numbers should rebound in 2013 to some extent.

Perhaps the best part of Den Dekker’s offensive game is that his bat possesses decent enough pop.  He hit 17 homeruns in each of the past two seasons, splitting time between Hi-A St. Lucie and AA Binghamton in 2011, and Binghamton and Buffalo in 2012.

This kind of power, while not great, is something not typical of other players who get labeled with the ‘all-glove, no-hit’ tag.

Is the power enough when coupled with his glove to justify bringing Den Dekker north with the team at the end of March?

Probably.

When your prospective outfield consists of Lucas Duda and a handful of AAAA-type players, it’s hard to justify not giving den Dekker a shot to see what he can do in the majors.

In the worst case scenario, the 25-year-old den Dekker can’t quite hack it and gets sent down after a few weeks.  In the best case, he shows his Gold Glove potential and provides just enough offense to justify a place hitting 8th every day.

The Mets should at least try to find out.

14 comments for “Does Matt Den Dekker deserve a roster spot?

  1. Metsense
    March 11, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Den Decker is said to be an elite defensive CF. He has also adjusted slowly at every level. The other outfielders this spring, Cowgill, Byrd, Valdespin and Duda have superior Spring OPS better than Matt. Baxter is struggling but spring training should not be reason to send him down. So come Memorial Day, the Mets could reevaluate and if one of the 5 are not hitting then I can see Matt getting a promotion based on his glove. Ideally he will start off well in Las Vegas, utilize the pitch recognition he worked on this Spring, and force himself (a DePodesta term) onto the roster sometime in 2013. His glove and power should get him to the majors as at least a bench player, just not this April.

  2. Chris F
    March 11, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    I think it is time to really evaluate who can make it in the Show. Duda’s extended tryout is simply not paying the expected dividends. Im growing increasingly skeptical that he or Kirk can hit left handed pitching, and neither can match MdD in the field, who also looks crippled by lefty pitching. All things considered, dD defense is superior enough to warrant real consideration. And like Metsense says, perhaps force his way up. Given the threshold he may need to cross (Duda, Kirk) it may not take much. The OF auditions have certainly showed me that no one coming into camp had a lock. Duda and Kirk should be worried. If den Dekker can keep with the leather and hustle, i like what he has. Cowgill too. Byrd too. I can easily envision an OF of MdD, Cowgill and Byrd.

    • Joe Vasile
      March 11, 2013 at 7:59 pm

      An outfield of MdD, Cowgill and Byrd is an interesting proposition. What I think is more likely is Duda in left a MdD/Cowgill platoon in center and Byrd in right, with Baxter filling in at the corner positions and being used as a defensive replacement for Duda late in games.

  3. March 12, 2013 at 1:14 am

    What has happened to the Mets? I can’t recall a Met team that had their center fielder batting 8th. Most teams have that position slated for third or clean up. It is pathetic that we as Met fans have come to accept this situation. What happened to the promises Sandy made about payroll in 2013? I don’t see the Met situation getting any better. What happens if the kids falter or injuries set back their progress? Where does Sandy go from there? We have at best a AAA outfield comprised of other teams leftovers or retreads. Why are fans so willing to accept that?

    • Za
      March 12, 2013 at 2:17 am

      I’m going to disagree with you there. There’s almost no teams in baseball with their CF batting 3rd or cleanup. With respect to OF competition, nobody’s thrilled with it and it’s a shame we weren’t able to successfully trade for Upton. It’s also disappointing we couldn’t trade for Span or Revere.

    • Joe Vasile
      March 14, 2013 at 12:53 am

      Does it matter what defensive position the 8 hitter is? Remember when Jerry Manuel insisted on hitting Luis Castillo second because he liked the idea of the second baseman hitting in the two hole? As long as you have your best OBP guys at the top, and best SLG guys in the middle it doesn’t matter what positions they play.

  4. March 12, 2013 at 3:27 am

    Has anyone asked Sandy why he didn’t try to get Span or Revere? Either option would not have caused the Mets to mortgage their future.

    • Name
      March 12, 2013 at 4:23 pm

      “Either option would not have caused the Mets to mortgage their future.”

      That is not true.
      Span costs the Nationals Alex Meyer, who is rated #59 by BA. Closest comp is probably Syndeergard. If they wanted quantity, probably would have been at least Montero and Fulmer and maybe even more.

      Revere cost the Phillies Worley and May. Worley’s comp is probably Dillon Gee. May was rated #69 by BA in 2012 but wasn’t rated in 2013. I’m going to venture a guess that Mazzoni is a close comp to him.

      Would you do either trade?

      • Joe Vasile
        March 14, 2013 at 12:53 am

        No.

  5. March 12, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    I’m not 100% sure I would do either trade. So that being the case NAME I would have to say no. I would have to be damn sure that what I give up is not too high a price for fill in players as opposed to a B.J.Upton type player.

    • Joe Vasile
      March 14, 2013 at 12:54 am

      Do you mean Justin Upton? (B.J. was a free agent)

      • March 14, 2013 at 3:29 am

        What does it say when you place your center fielder in the eight spot?

      • March 14, 2013 at 3:30 am

        Thank you. I meant Justin Upton.

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