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?
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.