Mets need to find more playing time for Eric Campbell

Eric CampbellFriday night Eric Campbell got a start in left field because a lefty was on the mound and he delivered a game-winning home run. For the season Campbell has a .299/.345/.403 mark in 148 PA but cannot find a spot in the lineup to play on a regular basis. A third baseman by trade, Campbell put up a 1.016 OPS when he got to play the hot corner this year. But with David Wright around, those opportunities are few and far between.

Campbell has also seen time at the other three infield positions and both corner outfield spots. In a way, you can say Terry Collins is trying to get him into games as much as he can. Still, the feeling that he should receive more playing time than he does keeps following me. Among the 13 players for the 2014 Mets to log at least 100 PA, Campbell ranks third with a 114 OPS+.

It seems like some of you are thinking – OK, smart guy, where should Campbell play to get these additional at-bats you want to see him get?

Collins seems committed – as much as the non-blinking one allows himself to be to any idea – to a left field platoon of Campbell and Matt den Dekker. He should get a start or two per week that way. Then let’s give him one start a week at third base. And then let’s give him another start each week at shortstop.

The guffaws and the howls are deafening.

This is Wilmer Flores’ shot at an everyday job and you want to bench him already? And for a guy with virtually no experience at the position who may be even worse defensively? Well, yes, that’s exactly right.

First off, if Campbell plays once a week at short, that’s hardly killing the chances of Flores to establish himself at the position. It’s just giving Campbell something of a shot. In 236 PA, Flores has a .548 OPS in the majors. Starting the last nine games, he has a .492 OPS. Campbell has a .748 OPS and earlier this year when he got the shot to play every day when Wright was out, he put up a 1.054 OPS in seven games.

While it is way too small of a sample size to be predictive, hopefully it’s suggestive of a guy who deserves another shot at continuous playing time. Shouldn’t Campbell get as much of a shot as, say, Kirk Nieuwenhuis?

Let’s look at the minor league numbers, when both Campbell and Flores got a chance at regular playing time in Las Vegas. In 704 PA, Flores had a .903 OPS in Triple-A. Playing in the exact same park, Campbell had a .926 OPS in 588 PA. There’s no reason to prefer Flores based on production in either the majors or Triple-A.

But what about the age difference, with Flores being four years younger? Well, that’s why Flores should get to play five times a week at the position and Campbell only once.

Flores needs to get the bulk of the playing time, in part because of his age and part to remove all doubt about his ability to play the position defensively, either in a good or bad way. Yet Campbell should get a shot to get his feet wet at shortstop and then spend the offseason in Instructional League and a Winter League getting regular reps at the position.

It may be completely ridiculous trying to turn Campbell into a shortstop at the major league level. At least Flores grew up playing the position. But with everyone agreeing that the 2014 postseason is no longer on the table, the Mets need to be creative to get Campbell into the lineup. Good things happen to the Mets when Campbell plays.

The ball seemingly jumps off the bat for Campbell and to my eye he seems better equipped to hit major league pitching than Flores. Maybe that’s just the age difference or maybe it’s because Campbell’s a better hitter. Either way, there’s nothing wrong with giving Campbell seven or so starts at shortstop the remainder of the season.

In Rafael Montero and Bartolo Colon, the Mets have two starting pitchers who give up more fly balls than grounders. That presents Collins with good matchups to get Campbell some work at shortstop the remainder of the season.

It seems reasonable to think that the Mets will pursue a shortstop with more urgency this offseason than in the previous one. Additionally, Matt Reynolds will deserve a shot after the year he put up at the two highest levels of the minors this year. It’s never going to be easier to find playing time at short for Campbell than it is right now.

Here’s hoping we get to see his bat in the lineup more consistently the last 39 games of the season.

16 comments for “Mets need to find more playing time for Eric Campbell

  1. Jerry Grote
    August 16, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I rubbed my eyes a couple of times. Its early still for Saturday morning.

    Looks to me like Campbell has all of two

    two
    2
    one more than one

    games at SS in his minor league career. No thanks.

    ~Jerry Grote

  2. August 16, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Unfortunately you’re asking a lot from TC who has a difficult time adjusting his old habits of how a team should be managed. To accomodate Campbell who’s not a veteran will undoubtably unnerve TC to the point of mental exhaustion. If only we could be so lucky.

  3. Peter Hyatt
    August 16, 2014 at 11:38 am

    What about….

    Right field?

    There’s a guy out there who can’t break .230 and loves to strike out…

    just an idea.

    • August 16, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      This would make sense but we all know they’re not sitting the big free agent acquisition unless they have to.

  4. lanzarishi
    August 16, 2014 at 11:47 am

    I’m not comin’ near this one with a 10 ft. pole, only to say I like what I see a lot in EC and strictly from a fan’s perspective I always feel comforted when he’s up at the plate no matter the situation. Go Soup!

  5. Metsense
    August 16, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Campbell deserves the time and at this point of the season a weekly start at third base, second base and right field added to the left field platoon should get him some much needed evaluation at bats. If Murphy is traded this winter then should Campbell be considered for the second base position? Based on the statistics presented by Brian he should be given the same chance as Flores. Flores is getting his opportunity now and needs to show he can hit major league pitching but I would prefer Reynolds getting the September call up and then getting 50% of the starts at SS with Flores. This blocks Campbell at SS. At this point looking at 2015, Soup looks like a future utility player, Flores a future second baseman (if Murphy is traded) and Reynolds the injury insurance for the anticipated SS upgrade. That can change if the Mets start evaluating their prospects on results instead of potential. You would think that deGrom, Lagares and Ike would have taught them something.

    • August 16, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      While the Mets have spots on their 40-man roster right now, the fact that Reynolds is not currently on the 40-man is going to work against him.

      He does not need to be added to the 40-man this winter. Meanwhile, his Las Vegas teammates Bradford, Leathersich, Mazzoni, Muno, Syndergaard and Verrett do need to be added this winter.

      It seems those six would have a leg up on Reynolds for a currently-open spot on the 40-man.

      • eraff
        August 16, 2014 at 3:08 pm

        Brian, do you have a list of all the organization’s players who needs to be 40 man or rule 5 this winter?

  6. Sean Flattery
    August 16, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    He seems like a legit hitter despite his small sample size. I love his plate coverage and level swing on high pitches. His power to all fields really is an asset too. I think he’ll spell David at third at times and Duda at first to go along with his platoon situation.

    I think TC sees the potential, and I’m confident he’ll find more ABs for him. Can’t say what the future of Kirk, MDD, Tejada, and Flores is, but I think Soup will definitely be a bench player here next year.

  7. C.K
    August 16, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    Flores for the most part isnt doing to well with this SS tryout. It wouldnt hurt to try and move Cambell over the SS. A lot of major league players make transistions, and if Cambell makes the same production he has, this would mirror a big free agent aquisition at the position, and give us a good trade chip in Flores for a right fielder.

    • Name
      August 17, 2014 at 12:25 am

      “Flores for the most part isnt doing to well with this SS tryout”

      “good trade chip in Flores”

      I see this happening a lot. Someone thinks a player isn’t good enough for the team he roots for, yet he wants a king ransoms for him in a trade.

  8. August 17, 2014 at 12:28 am

    If Flores cannot cut it as a full time SS it diminishes his value. Just shows other GM’s he’s not an every day starter. So how does that make him a good trading chip C.K.? I think you meant a LF not RF? Since Granderson is there for the foreseeable future.

  9. Name
    August 17, 2014 at 12:37 am

    Hmmm… this sounds familiar. If you had replaced “Eric Campbell” for “Josh Satin” and changed the date to 2013…

    I really want to believe in this guy as he passes the eye test, but statistically, there’s something that’s hard to overlook, and that’s his .404 BABIP.

    Call me crazy, but i think it’s a better career move if he doesn’t get a lot of PA the rest of the season, just look at Satin. He went into last offseason with a bench spot guaranteed this season.
    Playing Campbell more doesn’t really help his cause. The two most likely scenario’s are both lose-lose. Either he continues having success, but with a high BABIP which will not sway detractors, or his BABIP will regress and his numbers will fall.

    • Patrick Albanesius
      August 18, 2014 at 6:39 pm

      While I like Brian’s suggestions about getting Campbell more playing time, (a start a week at RF wouldn’t be so bad either), I agree about the Satin warning. Next year is next year, and Spring will determine if Campbell is a utility player for 2015.

  10. Steve L
    August 18, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Campbell’s a platoon bat, who should only start against lefties. Yes, I know he’s done well against righties this year, but it’s too small of a sample size to mean much. Look at his minor league splits and there’s no reason to think he’ll keep having success against MLB right handed pitching.

    And no, he cannot handle a middle infield spot…

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