Eric Young Jr. at Leadoff – Sure. Maybe.

Yesterday, Mets manager Terry Collins told Adam Rubin of ESPNNY, that utility man

Eric Young Jr. is his primary leadoff candidate at this point.

Still, with a full spring training to go, Collins cautioned: “But anything is possible.”

“Anything is possible,” is the key here. Maybe Collins is talking about some advanced level stuff platoon. And maybe this isn’t really going to happen. The reaction to his idea over at Metsblog and elsewhere around the Mets internet was pretty negative, and  understandably so.

Young should not start over Juan Lagares, who will be 25, and in his age 24 season, established himself as one of the top defensive centerfielders in the game (behind only Carlos Gomez in Fangraphs adjusted UZR metric Def). Still, Lagares hit only .242/.281/.352 overall. If Lagares’ offense regresses at all, that on-base percentage will be a heavier weight down on the value his defense provides. Young, who will be 29 in May, has played 307 innings in center and Total Zone and UZR put him near average, although it’s a dangerously small number of chances from which to draw strong conclusions. Lagares, who displayed a relatively small platoon split in 2013 (losing a little power against RHP) should play over Young in center unless Lagares proves he really cannot hit Major League pitching.

Eric Young’s .258/.325/.338 batting line in 1273 career plate appearances will hardly inspire swooning from fans in the first row of seats, or those with access to the internet. However, he was pretty close to 2013′s leadoff man average of .265/.329/.390. Young is light in the power, but almost MLB average in on-base percentage for a leadoff man. He’s also a switch-hitter with next to no platoon split – .253/.323/.336 vs. RHP and .268/.330/.342 vs. LHP in his career.

Now, in both corners, the Mets are planning on starting outfielders with major and complementary platoon splits. The Mets will maximize the value of both players, and their roster in general, by recognizing and embracing these splits. Chris Young has beat up lefties at a .262/.363/.474 rate for his career and hit just .225/.295/.415 against righties. Oh, sure, among Youngs, Chris has Eric well covered with that .190 isolated slugging percentage against righties, but Eric Young provides just a little more on-base skill at the top of the lineup.

In the other corner, Curtis Granderson also has major platoon splits and is weak against lefties. He has gone .274/.357/.519 against righties in his career and .226/.295/.409 against lefties. Again, Granderson has more power, but less on-base skills than EY against his same-handed pitchers.

Maybe Collins is suggested an extended platoon where Chris Young sits against many righties, Granderson against many lefties and Eric Young Jr. plays a lot. That seems to fly in the face of the market valuation of the three players, but it would give the Mets a little more on-base percentage at the top of the lineup.

Perhaps the Mets are on to something more radical. For road games, EY Jr. leads off, and the #9 spot in the batting order is held as a place-holder by the previous night’s starting pitcher. EY Jr. and his speed, come to bat in the top of the first inning. At the end of the inning, Collins can then choose to insert his starting pitcher into the #9 spot in the order or the #1, and substitute his anther position player either into the #9 or #1 spot in the order, or just roll with Young. Collins could deploy Juan Lagares, Daniel Murphy or any of his other outfielders to make a double-switch, or not. Does this make any sense? I’m not sure.

Maybe Eric Young will lead off in a extended platoon with both corner outfielders. Doing so would sacrifice power for on-base percentage and speed. Maybe he won’t. Either way, it’s the end of January. It’s been a long winter without baseball. Terry Collins is still two months away from writing out his lineup card in the first game that counts in 2014.

9 comments
Zach Ripple
Zach Ripple

There is no way Curtis Granderson gets platooned. Just sayin'.

natew
natew

Gauging anything by the reaction on Metsblog is suspect at best...


Weird stuff going around the rumor mill about Duda being in OF platoon and Lagares maybe going back to Vegas rather than being a bench player.  All this talk of the great OF defense seems to by going out the window.  Lunks who don't mash at every position doesn't seem like it will work...

The Feels
The Feels

Haha, yea yea, but just wait until this scrub bats .200 in Spring Training... Terry Collins says a lot of things that don't happen. This guy will NOT be starting in the outfield. Not on the Mets, anyway. 

Mark Kelly
Mark Kelly

I'm not so sure that Collins is using that much statistical insight to choose who plays and who doesn't. 


I literally think it comes down to one simple thing. EYJ is fast and steals bases. Therefore he's a leadoff hitter. That is all that collins thinks.

Derpy
Derpy

There is absolutely no chance the Mets are going to use a pinch hitter in the first inning of any game unless someone gets injured or something totally unpredictable happens.


I am at least 99% sure Terry Collins is posturing to make it look like Lagares isn't getting a "free" job in the majors like Tejada did, in some backward, pathetic attempt to make all "young" players "work" for their starting position.  Which only applies if you're a starting player.  Starting pitchers get a free ride, apparently.  Terry Collins is trying to show everyone all the "lessons" he "learned" from Tejada.  If only he had told the media Tejada weren't the opening day short stop after Jose Reyes left, then he would be an all star or something.  


Terry Collins is backward.

kyLE
kyLE

@Mark Kelly  Who bats leadoff i don't care but i have to imagine Lagares will start over EYJ no matter what.  Even with his lower BA and OBP his power numbers made him a marginally more productive hitter than EYJ last year.  Lagares' defense aside, Young is close to a known commodity now while Lagares is young and has upside, factor in defense and Lagares is the clear cut starter.  


That said we're able to take advantage of platoon advantages with Young getting 200-300 at bats where his defense will be plus in the corners, i don't think that's a bad 4th OF option.  LGM

The Feels
The Feels

@Mark Kelly  The best part is that stolen bases are incredibly overrated and don't translate to scored runs by all that much. EYjr's 81% success rate count for half a win, if that. Oh yeah, we definitely need him on our team! Desperately! 

Mark Kelly
Mark Kelly

@kyLE @Mark Kelly 

If EYJ is the 4th outfielder and gets 200-300 AB's i'm fine. If he's starting in LF, or CF and batting leadoff and receiving 400+ ab's i'm not happy. 

Mark Kelly
Mark Kelly

@The Feels @Mark KellyOh you don't have to tell me. The league leader in runs scored was Matt Carpenter. He stole 3 bases. Eric young Jr scored 70 and stole 47... Heck Ellsbury stole 52 and scored 92.


What is important.. Matt Carpenter was on base 39.2% of the time. Ellsbury 35.5% and EYJ a whopping 31.8% of the time. 


We all know runs, like RBI are a product of lineup. But there is an obvious correlation between Runs scored and OBP, but nobody has ever showed a Runs scored to SB.