Curtis Granderson, who we affectionately refer to as Granny on the Mets360 Game Chatters, first appeared in the leadoff spot for the Mets lineup on June 15th. It wasn’t until July 5th that he retained that spot, seemingly for the rest of the season. Since that date, Granderson is batting .197/.276/.299 with three home runs, six doubles, 17 runs, and two stolen bases from that spot.
For the 2014 season, Granderson is batting .212/.298/.353 in the leadoff role, with six home runs, eight doubles, 23 runs and three stolen bases in 46 games played. His career line at leadoff is .266/.340/.474. In a clubhouse that is preaching accountability, it seems as though Granderson’s struggles at batting leadoff this year have gone unnoticed.
It was a great experiment, seeing as how the only other option the Mets had for a leadoff man was Eric Young, Jr. For the year, he had a .236/.320/.322 at that spot in the lineup. But since it has been established that Young, Jr. is not an everyday kind of player, and Granderson is not a typical leadoff man, wouldn’t it make sense to try out some other people?
Juan Lagares only led off six games last year, so there wasn’t much history to go on. But in 2014 he led off 21 times earlier in the season to the tune of a .298/.347/.426 line with 11 runs scores. Some will say those numbers are inflated from a abnormally high BABIP from earlier in the season, and that may be true. And even despite that argument, this is an extremely small sample size, so we can’t say with any certainty that Lagares would make a good leadoff hitter. However, since Granderson is struggling at the moment to create consistency at that spot in the lineup, one would think Lagares should at least get a look at becoming the new leadoff man for the Mets.
Matt den Dekker has the speed to be a prototypical leadoff, but his problems with striking out have been well documented. In his entire major league career, he’s batted leadoff six times, so those numbers are barely worth mentioning. But there is something to be said for putting him in the leadoff spot in order to facilitate his increased pitch-taking ability. Top of the order batters need to see as many pitches as they can early on in order to help the rest of the lineup, so the theory goes. By forcing den Dekker to take on that role, it could promote the more patient approach at the plate that he’s worked so hard to develop. Then again, it could add increased pressure to a player already trying to prove himself. It’s a riskier proposition than either Lagares or Granderson, but it could be the one that pays off the most.
Outside of those two alternatives, the only other viable solution is possibly putting Daniel Murphy in leadoff. He is third in all of baseball with 152 hits, and his .339 OBP is nothing to sneeze at. In that scenario, Granderson who has a career .258/.355/.531 line batting second, could once again be in a position to drive runs in, rather than score them. Though in a perfect world he’d be doing both in that spot. Of course you are then taking the current best hitter on your team out of a more productive spot in the lineup, but you have to break some eggs to make an omlete.
Anyway you slice it, something has to be done to help the offense. In the second half of the season, the Mets are currently 14-17 with 91 runs scored versus 114 runs against. In their last 10 games, the team has 29 runs scored versus 36 runs against for a record of 4-6. For all the front office’s talk about the run differential and how the team’s record should be better than what it is, at the moment it looks exactly correct. The offense is sputtering, but the person having perhaps the most impact in starting that offense has been left to struggle while we finally decided it was time to start playing the young guys.
When things aren’t going well, it’s easy to point and say, “Why aren’t you fixing this?” We do a lot of that here. This is one of the more obvious things that needs fixing, but there is little sign that will take place. Granderson is not being paid $16 million a year to take walks and steal bases. Currently he’s not being used properly, and it’s taking it’s toll on the rest of the offense. Something should change, but as the season fades away down the stretch, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.