Slumping Mets center fielders creating a huge hole in the lineup
By Tim Boyle
It doesn’t seem to matter who the New York Mets put in center field this season. Each player who has played the position has struggled to hit, leaving a huge daily hole in the lineup they cannot afford to have.
The New York Mets roster has plenty of guys who can play the corner infield spots and enough options up the middle, especially when all are healthy. Even left field has some seasoned veterans capable of manning the position and a few willing to give it a try. Over in right field, they’re well enough with Michael Conforto back in the lineup.
Where the Mets are really weak this season is straight up the middle into center field. Many of us figured the duo of Juan Lagares and Keon Broxton wouldn’t do much on offense. Little did we know it would be this bad with no end in sight.
Broxton has already been dismissed from the team in a recent trade to the Baltimore Orioles. Lagares continues to play regularly, likely because of his large contract and often superb defense. It’s fine to have a Gold Glove-caliber man in center field if he’s giving you something on offense. This hasn’t been the case for the 2019 Mets and anyone to play the position.
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So far, we’ve seen four men play center field in a Mets’ uniform. Brandon Nimmo leads the way with .228/.405/.421 slash line. I imagine if he was healthy right now we’d see him in this position plenty. At the very least, he’d start every game against a right-handed pitcher.
Instead, we’re stuck with Lagares and the occasional appearance by Carlos Gomez. We can’t really trust Gomez to do much of anything. Despite a pretty solid resume, he is on a minor league contract. He’s nothing more than a reserve outfielder at this stage.
In more than 100 plate appearances as a center fielder, Lagares is hitting below the Mendoza Line by several points. As the team’s primary man at the position, it’s a drag on the lineup each day. The Mets are already dealing with lineups containing multiple reserve players to make up for the injured ones. To have a regular playing so inconsistently leaves them in a bind.
Look at an average Mets lineup in 2019 and you’ll find batting averages well below where we want them to be. In a game where Tomas Nido will start and at least one of the other call-ups takes the field, the Mets are battling with half a lineup hitting under .200; assuming the pitcher is with them which may not always be the case with how some of these starters can hit.
When your six through nine hitters are only getting a hit once every five at-bats, you’re practically giving away three innings a night.
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Center field is not always a productive one from an offensive standpoint. Considering the woes Mets players at other positions have experienced, they cannot afford to allow this hole to grow further.