Through the first few games of 2018, the New York Mets have used several players in the leadoff spot. Will they find one player for the role or continue to carousel players in and out?
Through their first week-plus of 2018, the New York Mets have used a few different players in the leadoff spot. Asdrubal Cabrera, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo are the three names we’ve seen bat first. They are the trio we should continue to watch get the first hacks for New York throughout the 2018 season.
Cabrera and Conforto should play more regularly than Nimmo whose role has diminished with the return of the latter. Cabrera doesn’t have the speed to truly win the job. Conforto, while a little faster, isn’t a base thief by any means. He’s also best suited for hitting in the middle of the lineup.
However, on this roster, batting leadoff is a better match when considering the rest of the order.
The Mets backed themselves into a corner over the last few seasons with the way they built their team. Speed is not something they value. Adding Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, and Adrian Gonzalez over the winter proved the point further. Already one of the worst teams at stealing bases, they picked up three more players who run with sandbags tied to their waists.
Because those three each belong in the middle of the order, a guy like Conforto will bat out of place in the one slot.
Do the Mets need some outside help at number one?
Eventually, the Mets could use Amed Rosario as the leadoff hitter. He’s the guy who has the wheels to take an extra base. First, he’ll need to improve at the plate.
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This season is a big test for the young shortstop. By season’s end, we could see him take on the role. Working against him is the fact that Mickey Callaway seems to enjoy batting the pitcher eighth, giving him a chance to hit Rosario ninth which provides a “second leadoff hitter.”
Thinking ahead to the trade deadline, it’s going to take an injury before the Mets add anyone at a “speed” position this summer. They could use some help on the bench. Beyond a reserve player, I don’t foresee the Mets acquiring anything special for their lineup. Even at first base, they have options in-house.
Fortunately, Callaway seems to prefer a good OBP player as opposed to a quick base runner. This isn’t outrageous. This is Callaway working best with what he has. Plus, what good are fast legs if they can’t reach first base?
All that said, the Mets do need to think about finding some faster players in the future. Jose Reyes led the team in stolen bases last year in a rather uncontested run. It’s possible that even as a part-time player in 2018, Reyes does it again.
Leadoff hitters aren’t what they once were. We’ve seen Chris Davis bat first for the Baltimore Orioles this year. Letting Cabrera and Conforto take the lead atop the order while coming off great OBP seasons isn’t crazy.
Callaway’s desire to bat the pitcher eighth shows that he’s not opposed to trying just about anything to put the best lineup on the field. As they search for some permanency at the leadoff spot, look for the Mets to continue experimenting with what they have. At 6-1 to start the season, whatever it is they’re doing seems to work.