Can Kirk and Torres Co-Exist?

By Unknown author

A lot of fans were up-in-arms when Terry Collins was standoff-ish about whether Andres Torres would reclaim his starting centerfield gig upon his return from injury. With the stellar play of rookie Kirk Nieuwenhuis, most people would like to see Capt. Kirk in center for the remainder of the season, and Torres on the bench or–gasp–released. Assuming Nieuwenhuis, who currently owns a .321/.387/.429 line, continues to play at or around this torrid pace, he really should be starting in the Major Leagues–not platooning or in Triple-A. So, if Kirk remains in centerfield, what does that mean for Torres?

The plan is simple: platoon Andres Torres and Jason Bay in leftfield. Yes, Torres is a switch-hitter, but if you look at his 2010 statistics, he should probably reconsider that approach. As a right-handed batter, Torres only hit a .226/.313/.346 line against left-handed pitching. On the other side of the extreme, the oft-injured veteran smacked a .284/.355/.528 line as a left-handed hitter against right-handed pitching.

There are also numerous reasons to use Bay in a platoon. Despite owning good career numbers versus both righties (.271/.358/.484) and lefties (.283/.396/.521), the increasingly mediocre hitter became an obvious platoon option in 2011, when he only posted a meager .228/.297/.332 line against right-handed pitching. To his credit, Bay was still able to light-up lefties to the tune of a .300/.418/.500 line. Also, if the Mets limit the amount of plate appearances Bay sees in 2012, his atrocious $17 million 2014 option will not become guaranteed (his 2014 option guaranteed with 600 PAs in 2013 or 500 PAs in both 2012 and 2013).

Given the necessity to provide Nieuwenhuis with developmental at-bats, and Bay and Torres’ hitting weaknesses, it makes sense to “let the kid play” and have the veterans platoon in leftfield. Whether or not the Mets decide to go this route is another story.

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