2013 was a bad year for the Mets – but a great year for Juan Lagares. He saw his prospect status become reborn with a strong showing in AAA, and following a promotion to the MLB, captured the hearts of Met fans with amazin’ defensive highlights. The Mets enter 2014 without Matt Harvey and with Chris Young, but they don’t enter that differently than they exited 2013. I wonder what we Met fans can expect from the bat and glove of Mr. Lagares in 2014…
Lagares played 121 games in 2013 and netted almost 400 at bats. His line for the year of .241/.281/.352 is not too small a sampling by the usual standards, but is his .633 OPS enough for the Met offense to allow and can he repeat or improve it?
The Mets had a team OPS of .672 in 2013. That means that Lagares was one of the players pulling the offense down. The good news is that he’s not dragging them like a lead weight, he’s just a touch heavier than some of the others on the team. The Mets can afford to carry a sub .700 bat but they cannot carry two. This means it’s Lagares or Ruben Tejada, not both.
The arc of Lagares’ 2013 campaign follows the path of many rookies:
- April: .298 OPS
- May: .486 OPS
- June: .667 OPS
- July: .937 OPS
- August: .672 OPS
- September: .437 OPS
He was promoted, struggled, figured things out, was one step ahead of the pitchers for a month before they figured him out and he struggled once more. In 2014, you’d hope that he could make the adjustments to compensate for pitchers figuring him out and level off. If he can, I think June and August represent his typical production. If he can’t, you’ll be looking at more of May and September’s performances. I don’t think you can expect Lagares to ever maintain July 2013’s production.
If he walks more, learns how to hit at home and can level off into a near .700 OPS hitter, than Lagares’ glove should carry him into becoming an MLB regular. If he can’t, he’s a 4th outfielder with a good glove. My heart hopes he’ll take those steps in 2014. My brain says he won’t.