Why Eric Campbell should be playing LF now (and maybe next year too!)

Eric CampbellOver 160 career ABs, Matt den Dekker has shown that he is most likely not going to be the Mets everyday LF for the foreseeable future. We all know he can play the position, but he can’t hit. His K rate has decreased in his current stint on the Mets, but he isn’t hitting for power, he’s not hitting for average, he’s not doing anything with his bat. His wRC+ is 56, his ISO is .047, his OPS is .518, and his K rate, while better than it was, is still 22%.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis? He’s been better this year, but he can’t hit lefties as evidenced by his 68 wRC+. He also strikes out a ton, with a 34.5% K rate. He can hit righties though, a 119 wRC+ is quite good. If we wanted to platoon him with a player that can hit lefties at the same clip, over a full season you could have the same production as Adam Jones (119 wRC+) or Brett Gardner (117 wRC+). It’s not a bad idea to platoon guys if you have the right players, but the Mets don’t really seem to be too interested in set platoons.

What about Eric Young? At this point, Eric Young can’t get on base with any consistency. It doesn’t matter how fast you are if you can only get on base at a .303 clip. He doesn’t have any power to cover that shortfall, and a 77 wRC+ is not impressing anyone. He only has a positive WAR this season because of his defense. His value at this point is to insert as a pinch runner and then have him be able to play good defense.

I think at this point, Eric Campbell should be given the chance to play LF every day. He looks like a pretty competent hitter. Actually, Campbell is more than competent. With a 114 wRC+, he’s 14% better than league average. His wOBA is .330, which is between average and above average. He’s doing all of this in spot duty. He’s not playing every day, he’s split time playing at 6 different positions and he’s still hitting. He’s actually not a bad defensive LF, in limited time his advanced stats actually have him as being an above average LF. Campbell hits both lefties and righties at almost the same exact clip (.294 vs RHP and .293 vs LHP). Campbell hits LHP with a little bit more power, but with a 120 wRC+ vs LHP and a 108 vs RHP he’s above average overall vs both. You wouldn’t have to platoon Campbell with someone else every day, which is a benefit overall to the bench and the consistency of the lineup. He could also still play either 1B or 3B and give Lucas Duda or David Wright a break while someone takes over in LF for a game or two.

Is Campbell the future of the Mets at LF? Probably not. But he can hold that spot in 2015 until Michael Conforto or Brandon Nimmo are ready, hopefully by middle of next year.

13 comments for “Why Eric Campbell should be playing LF now (and maybe next year too!)

  1. August 30, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    That’s fine if you want to maintain the status quo, if 70 – 80 wins in 2015 is acceptable to you. The Mets need an established, genuine slugger to patrol left OR right — a Stanton, a Kemp, an Ether: someone lije that. Much as I like Campbell, he is a mediocrity, same as Nieuwenhuis and den Dekker.

    Something’s gotta give.

    • Marc melton
      August 30, 2014 at 6:41 pm

      Kemp and Ethier? Ethier sucks and is overpaid. Kemp is also extremely overpaid. No way the Marlins trade us Stanton unless we easy overpay for him. I just don’t know who they are really going to trade for realistically.

      • Jerry Grote
        August 30, 2014 at 8:03 pm

        “I just don’t know who they are really going to trade for realistically”

        That’s what Sandy would have you believe. Cespedes is a free agent. We could have been in the Castillo deal. Tampa has two OFers that provided more than 3 WAR. Bautista can be had.

        Will you have to pay/give up a lot of talent to get that kind of player? Yes. Tough shit. Give it up, and let’s stop having games like tonight where once again we have 1 hit and no runs through 3 innings.

        • marc melton
          August 30, 2014 at 8:06 pm

          Cespedes is a FA after next season. At that point, why wouldn’t you just hope that one of the Mets prospects is MLB ready? I don’t see the Mets giving a lot for 1 year of Cespedes.

  2. Patrick Albanesius
    August 30, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    I think MDD deserves more playing time, but when is enough enough with him? Campbell definitely deserves to get a change at playing everyday, and if that means he’s bumping MDD out of LF, well then I guess that’s the way it has to be. He’s shown that he can be a difference maker on this team with his overall game, and by being a sparkplug-type of player. Even if he’s just average as an LF, I’m fine with him playing 80% of the time there in 2015, so long as we have a very solid SS to help offset that.

  3. Dave Margolis
    August 30, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    Campbell should play first against lefties and fill in various other positions as needed. The term “utility player” has become a negative term, so let’s say he’s a super-sub. The idea that playing Duda against lefthanded pitching will result in his learning how to hit lefties is akin to saying if you stand in the rain long enough, you’ll stop getting wet. And it’s time to go out and acquire a capital-S Slugger to play left.

  4. August 30, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Since returning from Triple-A, MDD has a .358 OBP. I’d say that’s pretty darn good and that would work well as a leadoff hitter.

    It’s unfair to lump all of his stats together, especially since he has a noticeably different stance/approach. You wouldn’t do that with TDA, whose overall numbers are similarly terrible but who we can reasonably say it’s not indicative of who he is now as a hitter.

    Let’s keep giving MDD at-bats and see if he continues to get on base at a good clip. And if he wants to throw in some power, I’d certainly welcome seeing that.

    • Jerry Grote
      August 31, 2014 at 10:52 pm

      Yes, a .358 OPS is fine.

      Unfortunately, Matt needs to increase his slugging percentage in this admittedly better time frame by 5% … nearly 30 points ..

      in order to be as good our best slugging pitcher.

  5. Scott Ferguson
    August 30, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    I believe playing Campbell everyday would over expose him. 300 PA’S a year filling in all over the field is invaluable. I’m hoping MDD figures out the majors and gets a shot at the lead off spot

  6. Peter Hyatt
    August 31, 2014 at 8:38 am

    MDD needs consistent at bats. TC doesn’t give this.

    Kirk N needs consistent at bats. TC doesn’t give this.

    Curtis Granderson needs to be J-bayed to the bench. TC doesn’t do this.

  7. Geoffrey T
    August 31, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Its really premature to dump on den Dekker this early, and even more premature to suggest that Nimmo or Conforto will be here next year.
    den Dekker’s had 15 games in his current call-up. He hit OK for the first 5 (.277), poorly for the next 5 (.170ish), and has hit .305 in his last 5 games. He also had 4 walks in that recent span for a .470 OBP.
    Teams adjust to how they pitch a young player and the player then has to make the adjustments in response. Dekk hasn’t had enough time to get through those cycles yet. I like Campbell a lot and he should be playing more. But Dekk is supposed to have the higher ceiling. Let them keep platooning and see how it plays out.

  8. Metsense
    August 31, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    I like Eric Campbell but not as my starting LF in 2015. Of all the ML left fielders that have at least 160 plate appearences, Eric ranks 29th in wRC+, 28th in OPS, and 29th in wOBA. I would want someone who is in at least in the top 15 in those rankings. The Mets need an established quality impact bat and Campbell does not fit that desription. He is a nice bench player.

  9. Jerry Grote
    August 31, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    475 AB
    29 HR
    76 RBI
    856 OPS

    lifetime, against LHP.

    Salary, roughly $1-2MM, and team controlled through 2016 and he plays LF and 1B.

    Traded today, for the rough equivilant of somebody hitting like Tovar but playing in A ball.

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