Collin Cowgill approach says Juan Lagares has 19 PA before demotion

Juan Lagares made an outstanding catch a few nights ago, saving at least an extra-base hit and perhaps a home run in a game that the Mets went on to win. He deserves all the credit in the world for making that play. However, that one play does not mean that every single thing he does defensively should be blown out of proportion from now on.

In Saturday’s revolting game, Laragres fielded the ball 30 feet behind the infield and threw the ball home, trying to nab the runner at the plate. Announcer Ron Darling gushed that the throw was a bullet and lamented that John Buck was unable to hold onto the ball. Meanwhile, the throw was above Buck’s head and the catcher was trying to catch the ball and tag the runner in one swoop.

It was the type of play that if it was made, the credit should go to Buck. It was reminiscent of the 1979 All-Star game and Dave Parker’s throw to the plate (only a much shallower play for Lagares). Parker threw the ball high and it was only a fine play by Gary Carter corralling the ball and applying the tag which made the out happen.

Regardless, in very brief action in the field, Lagares has already posted a +3 Defensive Runs Saved, a very impressive total. Scouting reports were mixed on his defense, with some saying he was not suited to play center field. If nothing else, he passes the eye test and looks like he’s comfortable playing the key defensive position.

However, he has not impressed at the plate, which was where he was supposed to offer the most help. Lagares has a lifetime .282 AVG in the minors and he’s actually hit better as he’s moved up the organizational ladder. This year in the hitter-friendly PCL, Lagares posted a .929 OPS before he earned his call to the majors.

Yet with the Mets he has just five hits in 30 ABs and in 33 PA he has a .419 OPS. Among the 16 position players the Mets have used this season, Lagares’ OPS ranks 15th, ahead of just Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Of course, it’s only 33 PA and Lagares has just a .227 BABIP and he likely will do much better if he’s given enough of a chance.

The same argument applies to Collin Cowgill, who also had hit well in the upper minors and who was anointed as the every day center fielder by Terry Collins at the end of March. But Cowgill posted a .167 BABIP and found himself shipped to Las Vegas after 52 PA.

The bullpen has been helped by the quick and decisive moves of the front office but the offense has not benefited from the same approach. When Cowgill was on the team, the Mets averaged 4.85 runs per game. Since he was banished to the minors, the Mets have averaged 3.29 runs per game. Coincidence – yes, probably. But Cowgill, while with a poor .467 OPS, did have 14 Runs + RBIs in 19 games.

If we look at Runs + RBIs and divide by Plate Appearances, we see Cowgill with a .27 rate. Buck leads the team with a .38 rate while David Wright has a .31 rate. Here’s how the outfielders rate in this department:

.32 – Jordany Valdespin
.27 – Cowgill
.25 – Marlon Byrd
.22 – Lucas Duda
.22 – Andrew Brown
.19 – Mike Baxter
.18 – Nieuwenhuis
.00 – Lagares

Yep – in 33 PA, Lagares has yet to score or drive in a run. He’s got quite a bit to go to catch up to Cowgill’s rate – a player deemed not worthy of much of a shot by management.

The Mets wanted Cowgill to be a leadoff hitter and when he didn’t get on base enough in his brief sample they gave up on him. Cowgill did show good OBP numbers in the minors – lifetime .371 mark – but wasn’t given enough of a chance to let that carry over into the majors.

Ike Davis in 2012 was allowed to stink for 201 PA, where he notched a .507 OPS. The explanation was that the Mets were winning so they could afford to “carry” Davis’ bat during this retched stretch. But the 2013 Mets were putting up runs at a terrific pace – the overall record being much more of a reflection of poor SP and lousy RP – and Cowgill’s leash was ¼ the size of Davis’.

We have no idea if Cowgill will hit in the majors if given a legitimate chance. He hasn’t hit in the brief time he’s been given but he has enough of a minor league track record to make it worthwhile to find out. I believe if that both Cowgill and Lagares were given 600 PA in a single season, that Cowgill would put up an OPS significantly higher, in the 75-100 point neighborhood.

The 2013 Mets are not going anywhere and the season is best used to see if guys like Cowgill can be an asset going forward. It’s beyond ridiculous that he was given 52 PA and deemed not worthwhile. But if Cowgill was sent out to pasture after such a brief trial – there’s no reason for Lagares to get any more of a shot. His minor league track record is inferior to Cowgill’s and his offensive production in the majors this year has been significantly worse.

And no hyperbole over short throws to the plate changes that one bit.

14 comments for “Collin Cowgill approach says Juan Lagares has 19 PA before demotion

  1. Name
    May 12, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    The only argument you can really give to Lagares getting a longer leash is that he is a “homegrown” player.
    Right now Duda, Baxter, JV and locked into spots on the team. Of the final 3, Byrd probably has the leg up. Personally, I’m not fond of Lagares or Brown, and I would swap them out for Cowgill and Quintallia or possibly even Satin. That would allow TC to use occasionally use Turner in the outfield, which he cant really do right now because Turner is the only backup to all the infield positions.

  2. za
    May 12, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Lagares would easily make up one hundred points of ops with his fielding over the course of a full year based solely on his defense. On defense specifically, Lagares could be elite whereas Cowgill can play CF in a punch. They are two different players with quite different skill sets. That said, I think they should both get a chance to play everyday but not necessarily in the Majors. Between the two, though, Lagares deserves more MLB playing time because defense provides value to the team even when he isn’t hitting, especially with The Dude in LF.

    • May 12, 2013 at 7:22 pm

      Andrew McCutchen had a .953 OPS last year compared to Austin Jackson’s .856 OPS. McCutchen was a -8.8 UZR while Jackson was a +3.5. And McCutchen easily outdistanced Jackson in fWAR, enjoying a 6.8 to 5.2 edge.

      You would have to have roughly a 2-win advantage on defense to make up for 100-point of OPS difference. Cowgill has a lifetime 7.5 UZR/150 mark in the majors, meaning Lagares would have to be the best CFer in MLB – better than Michael Bourn’s 23.3 mark last year. The second-best mark was Ben Revere’s 14.9 so I feel comfortable saying that there’s no way Lagares would be able to make up for a 100-point OPS difference.

  3. Metsense
    May 13, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Colin Cowgill should have been given more consistent playing time as the RHB in a CF platoon before he was demoted. He did have a AAA OPS of .984 in Reno in 2011. JV should be the other half of the CF platoon.
    Similarly, why did Andrew Brown get promoted when the team already has a similar RH RF in Marlon Byrd? Now Byrd’s playing time is cut. The team only needs one of them to platoon with Baxter in RF.
    TC is now trying to find playing time for 6 OF’s (and the talk of Turner being the 7th), none of which are above average. (Duda is not defensively avg).
    Pick your 5 OF’s, give them consistent playing time and roles, and after 50 games or so reevaluate and make the necessary changes (not sure with what) because the present way is not working.
    The GM and front office were 100% wrong in not professionally addressing the outfield situation during the past winter.

  4. Name
    May 13, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Signing Rick Ankiel… how ridiculous.

    • May 13, 2013 at 6:06 pm

      It gets Brown off the roster, so there’s that. How he’s got a .484 SLG when he strikes out more than half the time is sort of amazing.

      • Name
        May 13, 2013 at 6:41 pm

        Our main problem right now is the lack of contact and K’s… Ankiel doesn’t solve that problem, he just adds to it. I would definately have prefered Q and his defense or even satin(and so that we don’t have 6 OF’s) over Ankiel.

  5. May 13, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    I mean, it really is just that the worst case scenario has occurred: the outfield is incredibly awful instead of just really bad. The amount of shifting and panic moves (Ankiel???) really highlights that.

    To get on topic: I have always kind of wanted to see what Lagares could do at the MLB level. It was just very clear that he would probably not hit enough to start, which is what we’re seeing. As you say, small sample size. Still, the musical chairs will continue I guess. So bad.

  6. Steve Rogers
    May 13, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    Starting to wonder what the record is for most outfielders used in one season!

    I know the Mets one time, for quite a while actually, held the record for most pitchers ever used with the…I want to say 1967’s staff offhand.

    • Name
      May 13, 2013 at 11:59 pm

      I’ve never seen a manager who loves to play matchups more than Terry. I said I wanted him out of the manager’s seat and back into the player development role, but now I just want him gone for good. He’s toxic for the organization.

    • May 14, 2013 at 10:11 am

      I have no idea what the record is but the Mets used 27 pitchers in 1967 and 28 last year. They’ve used 15 so far this year and I’d put the over/under at 25.

      • Chris F
        May 14, 2013 at 12:11 pm

        Ill take the over

  7. Chris F
    May 14, 2013 at 8:07 am

    I’m afraid so Name. His time as come…and gone. We will never be a winner under his command (or much of the other coaches). Time for a Spring clean out.

  8. Dan Stack
    May 15, 2013 at 5:39 am

    Cowgill was sent down to quickly. I think he can be adequate and hopefully they switch out Lagares for CG soon.

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