Some Mets’ fans have shrugged at the idea of acquiring the services of Eric Young Jr. (traded for Collin McHugh on Tuesday night) from the Colorado Rockies, saying he is nothing more than filler with no real upside and one who will fit right in with the Mets’ under-qualified outfield.
The naysayers have a point. After all, Young’s career slash line is a modest .261/.329/.342. That’s not exactly eye-opening numbers.
However, Young could be placed in an ideal situation to succeed in Queens if given the chance for everyday at-bats.
You see, while not the greatest hitter in the world, Young never got a fair chance in Colorado, as the Rockies had a plethora of quality players who could play the outfield (just think that Tyler Colvin wasn’t good enough break camp this spring with Colorado, and if Colvin was with the Mets, he’d be by far the best Mets’ outfielder)—quite the opposite scenario here in Flushing.
When given the chance to play, Young has showed great wheels on the basepaths, stealing 70 (with a career-high 27 in 2011) bases in 314 games. Given that the Mets lack a player with a good set of wheels, Young gives the Mets an added dimension on the basepaths.
While he won’t remind anyone of Jose Reyes, Young is the best lead-off option the Mets will have had since Reyes left. Although a career on-base percentage of .329 isn’t ideal, Young at least is a threat to cause havoc when he gets on base, which is something the Mets have clearly lacked for the last two years.
Young can now safely be plugged into center field and if the experiment works, the Mets could conceivably kill two birds with one stone—getting a speedy lead-off hitter who could also play center field.
It’s not like every member of the outfield has to be some hulking slugger. A player with solid, contact-hitting skills who can run is an asset that the Mets could certainly use. It’s nice to have a table setter, but Young won’t be all the productive if the guys behind him don’t drive him in.
Again, the Mets don’t need Young to be the second coming of Rickey Henderson. Heck, even if he is half as good as his father, then the Mets will make out in this trade. If Young can get on base, steal a few bases and show some solid leather in center field, then the Mets should get a positive return in this deal.