March 31, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets center fielder Juan Lagares (12) reacts after hitting a home run during the 8th inning of an opening day baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

Juan Lagares Settling The Outfield Debate

Entering the season, both Eric Young and Juan Lagares needed to respectively increase their batting, and in particular, raise their OBP by considerable margins in order to be effective lead-off men.

Their situation was helped when Chris Young went down with a strained hamstring, which allowed Eric Young and Juan Lagares to remain in the line-up together.  With C. Young returning off the disabled list shorty, either EYJ or Juan Lagares will have to take a seat on the bench.

At present, Juan Lagares’ level of play is far above that of Eric Young’s, which makes Lagares the clear choice for continuing in a starting role.

The numbers speak for themselves.

Eric Young had a solid Grapefruit League season, posting a .296 average, and a .377 OBP, in 54 at-bats.  However, prior to Saturday’s game against the Angels, Young was only batting .222 in 36 at-bats this season, with an ineffective .275 OBP.

In Saturday’s game, Young went 0 for 4, with two more strikeouts, and a walk. He easily leads the team with 16 strikeouts, otherwise has exactly one break-out game against the Reds to show for his efforts so far.

In preparation for this season, Juan Lagares participated in winter league baseball, where he played 28 games.  In 114 at-bats, he batted .342, and posted a .379 OBP.  In Grapefruit League play, he batted .293 in 58 at-bats, and posted a .349 OBP.

So far in the young season, Lagares has stayed consistent with his preseason production.  With the conclusion of Saturday’s game, Juan raised his batting average to .302 in 43 at-bats, with 4 extra-base hits, 7 RBI, and a .340 OBP.  In Saturday’s game, Lagares went 2 for 6, with 2 runs scored, and extended his consecutive game hitting streak to seven.

While Eric Young has been leading-off, Juan has been hitting in the 6th slot. Lagares’ early success will still need to translate in the lead-off role once Chris Young resumes playing.

 

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