Earlier today (March 20) on WFAN, Terry Collins was speaking with the media “Sports Pope” of New York, Mike Francesa and hinted that Jordany Valdespin is his leading candidate to be the team’s opening day lead-off hitter.

This is what Collins said to Francesa: “Right now, the way Valdespin has been swinging the bat in that spot, we’re leaning towards him,” Collins told WFAN host Mike Francesa on Wednesday. “As of right now, that’s what we’re looking at.”

Valdespin looks like a new man at camp, as he is being more selective at the plate and getting some big hits in the process. While the sample size, of course, is really small, Valdespin has been nothing short of amazing this spring. So far in 14 games Valdespin has posted an eye-opening .348/.388/.609 slash line while also chipping in with four home runs, nine RBI’s and one stolen base. The .996 OPS he is putting up is simply jaw-dropping.

What is also refreshing is that Collins told Francesa that Valdespin is showing more humility and maturity in camp this spring. When you combine the start he is off to with the way he is endearing himself to the coaching staff, Valdespin has a nice opportunity in front of him. It’s high time Valdespin takes this opportunity and tackles it by the horns.

With a weak outfield and with injuries to Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner at second base (not to mention David Wright at third base), Valdespin could be used all over the field. As pointed out by David Groveman a little over a week ago, Valdespin has enough reasons going for him as to why he should be a part of the roster. At this point, Valdespin’s inclusion on the roster appears to be a lock with Collins’ recent vote of confidence. So now the question becomes: is Valdespin a lead-pipe cinch to be a starter and lead-off hitter for good?

Having Valdespin at the top of the order is a delicate situation based on past results, but between the lack of options elsewhere and his improving batting eye and above-average speed, Valdespin is perhaps the best option the Mets have.

In 2012, Valdespin had an up and down season en route to putting up mediocre numbers. In 191 at-bats, Valdespin posted a measly .241/.286/.424 slash line to go with eight home runs and 26 RBI’s.

Valdespin also had the flair for the dramatic. Valdespin’s propensity for hitting clutch pinch-hit home runs (especially a memorable one off the Phillies’ closer Jonathan Papelbon) made him a fan favorite. Valdespin also became a local celebrity for a quote he made famous after that infamous Phillie game: “I’m the man right now.”

While maybe something was lost in translation in that quote and he may not have meant to be so cocky,  you still have to love Valdespin’s confidence and bravado.  He  has what the kids like to call “swagger.”

So yeah, with the spring he is having, he is the man right now- at least when it comes to batting leadoff. Let’s hope Valdespin can capitalize on this opportunity and provide the Mets with the spark they need.

 

7 comments on “Big opportunity in front of Jordany Valdespin

  • Brian Joura

    I’m in favor of Valdespin making the team. I have no problem if he starts while Murphy is on the DL/out of action. But I have little doubt that you’re asking for trouble if you bat him leadoff.

    Valdespin had a stretch of 80 PA last year where he put up a .316/.350/.645 line (May 7 – July 21)yet in 206 PA he finished with a .286 OBP – so forgive me if I’m not feeling overwhelmed by his start here in Grapefruit League play.

    Even now, his OBP is mostly AVG-driven. If we subtract his AVG out of his OBP we get an isolated OBP of .040 this Spring. Last year he had an isolated OBP of .045 in the majors.

    NL leadoff hitters had an isolated OBP of .062 last year. Leadoff hitters for the Mets had a .065 isolated OBP in 2012.

    Of course what really matters is his actual OBP. But at his current .040 level, he would have to post an AVG of .279 to match last year’s NL average and .283 to match the Mets’ leadoff production last year. And I don’t recall anyone raving about the production of Mets leadoff hitters in 2012.

    The highest projection of the five listed on FanGraphs calls for Valdespin to have a .269 AVG (Bill James projection). The highest projected OBP is .311 (Oliver projection).

    The offense is going to have enough trouble scoring runs. There’s no point in making it even harder by batting a guy there who may not even crack a .300 OBP.

    • Dan Satck

      I still just want to give JV a try. See what happens. If he fails then so be it. Just crossing my fingers on this one.

  • Craig

    With the ST Spin is having he should get a shot at leading off and if he prove’s leading off is not working out you can always move him down in the order! When Murphy gets back why not
    platoon him in RF so 35 year old Byrd won’t burn out so fast and last longer or platoon Spin
    in CF with Cowgill or play him in LF if Duda falls on his face? Either way Spin should get lots of bats and get to lead off a lot as well!!

  • Metsense

    I personally don’t like JV’s immaturity and see him as a possible future problem. I like Turner, Murphy and Kirk’s attitude and work ethic. So why am I ecstatic that JV is getting this opportunity? The reason is that he brings the most to the table,: power, speed, versatility. He has earned this opportunity and he has worked on his attitude. He is younger than
    Duda by two years, Nieuwenhuis by 1/2 a year but he hasn’t been seen in the same light as a prospect with potential. 2013 is the year we need to find out about the 2014 team, the team that should get the Mets to .500. JV needs the chance, as does Lutz (on a more limited basis), Cowgill, Familia and even Carson. Later they will need to audition d’Arnaud and Wheeler. Valdespin has earned it, has a higher ceiling, and at this point the Mets have nothing to lose by giving him the opportunity he earned.

  • Name

    Not sure why TC or anyone on the Mets talk to Francesa when there are other better personalities on WFAN to talk to. Very unpleasant to listen to and i’d imagine very unpleasant to talk to because he’s so full of himself.
    Guy barely knows baseball, and he’s a Yankee lover. It pisses me off everytime i hear him say something about the Mets because he doesn’t follow the team and knows jack about the Mets.

    Sorry that’s it off topic, had to get that off my chest.

  • JimO

    Lets Go Mets! Valdespin gets a chance. You have to look at defense too. I believe he’s a plus 1 defender at 2B. Not sure about the other positions.

  • TJ

    The questions surrounding Spin are legit, but who else do the Mets have to lead off? To me it looks like he has more potential to improve than any others, based on natural talent, age, and maturity level. He could be a Jose Reyes light, which would be a dramatic improvement in the post Jose Reyes era.

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