The other day, Joel Sherman of the New York Post gave his ideas regarding a revamped starting lineup for the 2014 New York Mets.
It included Norichika Aoki in left field (obtained through a proposed deal sending Ike Davis to the Milwaukee Brewers), Andre Ethier in right field (obtained through a proposed deal for Rafael Montero et al), and Jhonny Peralta at shortstop (signed as a free agent).
The concept here is that the acquisition of Aoki would allow Eric Young, Jr. to become a bench player. How does Aoki compare to Young?
Aoki is 31 and played 149 games in right field last year for the Brewers. He led the National League in AB per SO average (with an average of 14.9 at-bats for every strike out). In fact, he struck out only 40 times in 597 at-bats. His final 2013 slash line was .286/.347/.370. He had 171 hits and walked 56 times last year. He scored 80 runs and stole 20 bases. His walk total increased and his strikeout total decreased from 2012. On defense, Aoki earned an overall positive defensive (UZR) rating of 3.2.
Young is 28 and he struck out 100 times in 539 at-bats. His final slash line was .249/.308/.336. He had 134 hits and walked 46 times last year. He scored 70 runs and stole a league-leading 46 bases. The Mets gave him his first chance at playing every day. Prior to this season, Young had just over 600 at-bats in four seasons with the Colorado Rockies. Young, of course, has some positional flexibility and is able to play all three outfield spots along with second base. He is also a switch-hitter.
As a left fielder, Young earned a positive defensive (UZR) rating of 3.9 and at second base, he earned a positive defensive (UZR) rating of 0.4.
So, based on the above, it does appear the Aoki would be a good addition to the team’s outfield. He brings value to both offense and defense. He is not a super-star but he is a good player. He brings a discerning eye, plate discipline and speed. He could be a lead-off hitter. The question is, if the Mets acquired him, what does the team do with Young? Do they then trade Daniel Murphy and install Young as the starter at second base or do they retain Murphy and move Young to the bench. Young, off the bench could be a valuable weapon as a pinch runner, late-inning replacement, fourth outfielder. The other question, of course, is what does the team do about right field? That’s another article though.