What to expect from Juan Lagares

Juan Lagares2013 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.

15 comments for “What to expect from Juan Lagares

  1. helloboy
    December 2, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    I like him, but I am not sold on him offensively. I am not sure if he should be a starter or a bench guy/defensive sub. I do not even think he is a definite starter next year. I also think there is a chance he may end up in RF to take advantage of his arm. I expect to add some level of OF to start in addition to Young. Young may also be the CF as he is paid more and is definitely going to start because of it.

    At this point I am not sure what to expect out of him, i am not sure if the Mets expect anything, i am not even sure if anyone will guarantee he is starting yet.

  2. Name
    December 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    These are his BABIP numbers by month
    April: .091 BABIP
    May: .238 BABIP
    June: .365 BABIP
    July: .442 BABIP
    August: .314 BABIP
    September: .222 BABIP

    .300 BABIP is the norm for most players, and even if we give Lagares the benefit of the doubt and say he will be a bit higher, in August he had a .314 BABIP and only produced a .672 OPS.

    Unless he learns how to take a walk (and looking at his performance in the DWL which has far inferior competition, that clearly has not happened) I put my ceiling for Lagares at around .680-.690 OPS with a low, low floor.

    Off-topic, i took a peek at Tejada’s BABIP for 2013 and it was abnormally low at .228. He was averaging .330+ for 2011-2012. Or maybe it was just regression to the mean as now his career BABIP is at .302

  3. Chris F
    December 2, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Hes shown a lot of offense in the DWL. Im a believer he can adjust and hit, and learn to walk.

    As of the other day:
    2013 Winter League – 25 games; (36 for 101), .356/.391/.436, 14 R, 5 Doubles, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 5 SB

    Apparently he takes to learning as well (true from reports), so maybe Hudgens can straighten him out (note the dripping sarcasm).

    • December 2, 2013 at 5:43 pm

      You can get updated DWL stats here:
      http://mlb.mlb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=l131&lid=131&t=l_bat

      Lagares has a .398 BABIP and 6 BB to go with 110 ABs (PA not listed). And only 1 HR.

      The good news is that he’s not striking out too much (16 Ks) and he’s been successful on five of his six SB attempts.

    • Jerry Grote
      December 2, 2013 at 10:37 pm

      Big Lagares fan.

      That said, conventional wisdom says he’ll fall into a “sophomore slump” … although you have to wonder how much you slump from 633.

      Why couldn’t Juan Lagares 2013-2014 be Darwin Barney, 2012-2013?

      • Chris F
        December 2, 2013 at 10:58 pm

        I got my finger crossed JG. He’s really been raking this winter…maybe some rubs off for real.

    • December 3, 2013 at 3:56 am

      Chris unfortunately Latino ball players are taught to hit and not to take a walk. They know if they learn to hit and hit well they have a better chance of making it to the big leagues.

  4. December 3, 2013 at 3:50 am

    So if Young is in center who are your corner outfielders on this current roster?

  5. helloboy
    December 3, 2013 at 7:42 am

    DWL stats prove nothing. It is like playing in AA

  6. Metsense
    December 3, 2013 at 7:56 am

    Lagares has been a pleasant surprise. He is a gold glove caliber center fielder. He is below average offensively but his defense earned him a 2.9 WAR. Unless he burns up ST, Lagares should start in AAA to improve his batting,pitch recognition, baserunning and stolen bases. Young is only signed for 1 year.
    The signing of Chris Young improves the offense in CF while still giving the Mets a defensive CF.
    The Mets can’t function offensively with three players, Lagares, EY and Tejada, 90 OPS points below the average for their positions. IF the Mets upgrade in LF (ie Davis for Joyce) and RF (ie Granderson as a FA or Ethier via trade) then Lagares gets his AB’s at AAA. In all probability the Mets don’t make these moves and he is the starting CF and CY is in RF. I think Lagares can eventually put up near average offensive numbers.

    • Jerry Grote
      December 3, 2013 at 8:27 am

      Well … its true you can’t throw away 1500 at bats to three players that run out an OPS 80 points less than league average for their position. But you can hide one, or possibly two bad bats if they improve the defense sufficiently or if the rest of the team hits well enough.

      You can let Lagares develop in the major leagues by getting the SS via trade or free agency (Drew, apparently, has yet to get an offer other than 2 years from Boston). EYJ’s career OPS is 663, and a quick sort of 2B with 350 ABs last year, that would place him roughly equal to Rickie Weeks, 24th out of 33.

      So the bottom line is that you need to replace the SS with a league average or better bat. Daniel Murphy + another player should be enough to land the likes of an Espinosa or a Castro.

      I wonder if someone here (Brian Joura? Stand up and be counted) can offer a study on whether or not players show improvement by actually returning to the minor leagues. I remember Bill James writing something on that a long time ago. My preference is to let Lagares play it out here.

      • December 3, 2013 at 8:33 am

        Hey Jerry,

        Not sure that would be enough for the Cubs to trade Castro who they are praying rebounds so they can either make him part of their future or trade for pitching but I could see Murphy being useful to the Cubs so I won’t disregard it.

        Murphy has no use to the Nationals. Also, he’s worth more at present than Espinosa. Mets need to add another OPS contributor. Even then, I think the Mets would be best served by platooning Lagares and Den Dekker.

        • Jerry Grote
          December 3, 2013 at 9:12 am

          Fair enough; I’ve mentioned Castro a couple of times, but only because I don’t spend a lot of time looking at this.

          Mentioned in the other thread is this list of talent: Ynoa, Fulmer, Murphy, Davis, Flores. Some combination of that is worth a SS (or outfielder) to someone. JJ Hardy? Yunel Escobar? Erick Aybar? Didi Gregorius? Owings? Asdrubel Cabrera?

          At the end of the day, the Mets are in a Don Corleone position when it comes to SS. They need to make an offer someone can’t refuse, because they have internal alternatives at 2B, at 3B, at 1B, at youthful pitching.

  7. December 3, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Preferably a jack-ass!

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