Mets Season Preview: Who’s the most integral Met?

By Danny Abriano
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Mar 8, 2015; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets center fielder Juan Lagares (12) at bat against the Boston Red Sox during a spring training baseball game at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Punzalan, Staff Writer:

Well, prior to his season ending Tommy John Surgery, the person I would’ve talked about in this blurb would’ve been Zack Wheeler. But now that he’s on the shelf for a year, let’s talk about the next player most integral to the team’s success: Juan Lagares. We’re all familiar with Lagares’ defense, coming off his first (of probably many) Gold Glove seasons. And we all know that he can change the momentum of the game with his glove. However, if the Mets really want to succeed in 2015, they’re going to also need his bat.

Lagares has been a defensive juggernaut ever since he signed as an amateur free agent in 2006. He worked his way around the left side of the infield, before eventually becoming a force to reckon with in the outfield. His bat has slowly improved, but not as quickly as his defense.

That’s where Lagares will need to shine now. In 2013, Lagares batted .242 with 4 home runs in a 121 games. He showed hints of some pop, but struggled immensely with getting on-base, showing off a dismal .281 OBP. In 2014, he improved on those numbers, batting .281 with a .321 OBP in 116 games played. The only red flag from both of these seasons? He had only 20 walks.

How can he improve? Lagares is showing that his bat is evolving in Spring Training. In 17 games, he’s hitting .346 to go with a sparkling .404 OBP. He even knocked in six runs and belted three home runs. If he can somehow translate that offense into the full season, not only will the Mets have a full and potent lineup, they’ll have an unexpected star in the making. If the Mets want to make noise in the playoffs, they’re going to need a consistent player for 162 games, and Juan Lagares might finally be that guy.

Next: Justin Weiss's pick for most integral Met