This season, the New York Mets may primarily use a platoon of Juan Lagares and Keon Broxton in center field. It’s an uneasy, underwhelming feeling.
Last year, the New York Mets opened the season with what looked like a platoon situation behind the plate. Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki would share catching duties for the 2018 season. A clear weakness in the lineup one year prior, the team did nothing to better it for the following campaign.
Well, the Mets solved their catching issue for 2019. They inked Wilson Ramos to a sweet deal. However, they appear to have shifted the underwhelming platoon from behind the plate out into center field.
It seems the Mets may go with somewhat of a platoon in center field with Juan Lagares and Keon Broxton sharing duties. Lagares is a better hitter than either d’Arnaud or Plawecki so it is an upgrade. When he finds his swing, Broxton is equal or better to them, too.
The platoon isn’t the worst idea. However, I’m not so sure these two match up well.
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For his career, Lagares is slashing .260/.300/.367 and averaging 6 home runs per 162 games. Staying healthy has been his biggest issue.
When thinking about him in a platoon situation, we need to check the splits. As most righties are, he’s better when facing left-handed pitchers with a .269/.317/.394 batting line as opposed to a .257/.293/.354 one against righties. He’s not terrible against right-handed pitchers. He’s also not very good.
Broxton, meanwhile, brings with him a career batting line of .221/.313/.421 with an average of 19 home runs per 162 games. He has played in significantly fewer games so it’s tough to measure him against Lagares. What we do know is that he’s hitting just .214/.294/.414 against righties in his career.
Lagares and Broxton are far too similar. The big difference is Lagares hits for more contact while Broxton swings for the fences and connects more often. Each can field well and has some speed.
In an ideal world, donuts are zero calories, weekends last six days, and Lagares is paired in center field with someone who makes up for his shortcomings. This world is far from perfect and we may see these two share time in an unbalanced platoon.
The Mets have plenty of roster questions. It looked like they were rounding out their bench with Broxton and J.D. Davis until Jed Lowrie signed a two-year deal. Now, it’s anyone’s guess who fills the void.
One possibility, we see Jeff McNeil in the outfield. He wouldn’t take over in center field but could slot in at a corner spot with either Michael Conforto or Brandon Nimmo moving in to replace the Lagares/Broxton duo. Neither is a very good fielder away from the corner spots. By doing this, the Mets are sacrificing a lot on defense at two outfield positions.
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Building a perfect lineup is not easy. Finding a quality center fielder who can hit and field well is one of the toughest aspects of it. While the Mets may end up settling for a weak bat at center field, they have at least made other moves to open up a possibility of changing things up as needed.