New York Mets News

Man at the Top: Eric Young, Jr.


In the fall of 2011, the Mets did not pursue Jose Reyes, who eventually left for the “new look” Miami Marlins. Later that off season, Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson tried to revamp the beleaguered bullpen by trading center fielder Angel Pagan to the San Francisco Giants for right handed pitcher Ramon Ramirez along with outfielder Andres Torres.

Jun 22, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets right fielder

Eric Young

Jr. (22) hits a 2 RBI double in the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Mets, 8-7. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Reyes, who was called up to the big show in 2003, electrified Met fans with his speed on the bases and his knack for hitting triples. When Reyes got on base and scored, the Mets seemed to win more than not. With his speed and ability to start off innings, Reyes may go down as the Mets best leadoff hitter ever. When Reyes was given a days rest or was sidelined with one of his numerous leg injuries, Pagan would leadoff and generally filled in admirably.

Without two of their best table-setters not on the team anymore, the Mets had a void in the number one spot in the batting order. Last season Terry Collins penciled in shortstop Ruben Tejada more than not. While Tejada batted .289 and had a .333 OBP, he lacked any sort of power, as 107 of his 134 hits were singles. He had no triples and recorded only one home run. While getting singles and on base is fine at the top of the order, if you have no speed, getting singles all of the time doesn’t always help. Tejada who isn’t the most fleet afoot only stole four bases last season.

In 2013, Tejada struggled in Spring Training and fell from the leadoff spot. Collins has tried Collin Cowgil, Jordany Valdespin and even Daniel Murphy at the top of the order. Whoever seemed to step up in that spot in the lineup seemed to fail every chance they got. Valdespin was given a regular chance at the spot two weeks ago and struggled, and at one point was hitless in 15 at-bats. It was a ring of incompetency at the leadoff spot, and no one seemed able to come through as the number one hitter in the order. That is until Wednesday when the Mets made a deal which could change their offensive fate for the rest of the season.

After Zack Wheeler‘s impressive debut Tuesday night, the Mets made a flurry of moves including a trade sending pitcher Collin McHugh for utility man Eric YoungJr. Since coming over from the Rockies, Young has impressed with his bat and speed on the bases, something the Mets have been missing for the better part of one and half seasons.

In his five games thus far with the Mets, Young has excelled at the plate, collecting eight hits, three doubles and 5 RBI. In today’s rubber match versus the Phillies, Young had three hits, including one double in the 8-0 victory.

While it’s been a very small sample size for Young with the Mets, it has nonetheless been exciting to watch him hit and run the bases. His speed at the top of the order has been refreshing to see. Although he hasn’t stolen a base yet, he’s bunted for a hit, and appeared to beat out an infield grounder in Saturday’s game, although first base umpire Adrian Johnson believed otherwise.

Although Young may not even be the short term answer in the outfield, it’s great to see Alderson deal for a bat and leadoff man that can make this bland offense look better. Who knows, maybe the Mets can reverse their recent trends of bad second halves with a good one this year with a competent leadoff hitter.