Who is the most legendary left fielder in baseball history? It’s kind of a trick question. It might be the one position on the field we don’t really think of linking to a particular player. Center field has an abundance of all-time greats as does right field. While the New York Mets have had their share of talented left fielders, those days appear to have passed us by.
Yoenis Cespedes was the last great Mets left fielder. Blink and you may have missed his tenure with the club. From his arrival with the club on August 1, 2015, until he opted out after playing 8 games in 2020, the big guy participated in only 316 games. In two and a half years with the Oakland Athletics, he logged 365 of them.
The current Mets don’t have a natural left fielder. Dominic Smith was used there plenty in 2021 with Jeff McNeil getting a few more starts of late. Neither has the position locked up for next season which could allow for the black hole at the position to re-emerge.
The Mets have a left field problem brewing
Since 2000, only Cliff Floyd and Cespedes have started in left fielder in consecutive seasons on Opening Day. From Moises Alou in 2007 up until Michael Cuddyer in 2015, the club always had someone new—or at least a different name from the previous campaign—suit up for the position.
It wasn’t just this stretch where the Mets had issues finding stability at the position. They tried finding the solution with George Foster in the early 1980s then attempted to do the same with Vince Coleman in the early 1990s. Kevin McReynolds did help end some of the torture but that does them little good right now.
Smith and McNeil are two of the top trade candidates the Mets have at their disposal this winter. Add in another left field candidate, J.D. Davis, and we have three guys with uncertain futures in New York.
All three have been culprits this season of coming up small at the plate. Davis’ numbers are much better than the other two, but a lengthy injury and continued poor defense have made him too much of a liability to start.
The Mets aren’t absent of a left fielder. They happen to have a couple of guys who can play the position. Each has some noticeable warts.
Things might only get hazier for the Mets next season
What the Mets end up doing with Michael Conforto will directly impact what happens in left field. Conforto’s departure could lead to the team moving Brandon Nimmo over to right field if they’re unable to upgrade from outside of the organization. This would lead them to seek out a true center fielder; a whole different absence plaguing the organization.
To Nimmo’s credit, he has played a solid center field this year. There’s not much negative to say about his bat either. Regular injuries are his biggest problem. Those are nearly impossible to prevent.
Left field has been the weakest position of all for the Mets this year regardless of who they have put there. Their left fielders have one of the worst combined WARs in all of baseball. Compared to all other positions, this one stands out most as the weakness of the club.
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The Mets don’t need to seek out perfection for left field. It’s an imperfect position where you can sometimes only plan to stash a good bat. The Mets haven’t had one of those for much of the season. Out of fear that another drought continues on at the position, the Mets need to address the growing issue or keep throwing different players out there hoping something works.