Now that we have finally moved on from the Davis/Duda debate, we can focus our attention to the outfield dilemma. For the first time this season, at some point this week Terry Collins will finally have all four of his outfielders healthy. Unlike the first baseman battle, I think this will be a nice problem to have.
With injuries to Chris Young to start off the year and Juan Lagares in the recent weeks, the Mets outfield has yet to be in full force. Curtis Granderson, has been the one preseason starter who has stayed in the lineup, besides his brief hiccup after crashing into the wall in Arizona. Eric Young Jr., who was thought to be the odd man out, has held his own as an everyday player so far this season. The Mets lack a true leadoff hitter on this roster, but Young Jr. has filled that void quite well. Although he is only batting .216 with a .320 OBP, he is second in the league in stolen based, with 12, and fifth in runs scored, with 20. Somehow, someway, Young Jr. finds a way to be involved in the Mets offense.
Chris Yong, has gotten off to a slow start himself since his return from the disabled list. Despite only batting .196 on the year, he displayed his power over the weekend as to why he was brought in. Granderson, is the player struggling the most out of the bunch, batting a lowly .129 on the year. However, he did come through in the clutch twice during this past home stand with two different walk off RBI. You have to think the former All-Star is due to break out in a big way soon.
Lagares, was the biggest surprise out of the gate for the Mets. Not only was his playing his usual gold glove caliber defense, but he was the hottest hitter on the team. Lagares is hitting .314 with a .346 OBP and looks more comfortable than I have ever seen him at the plate. Over the weekend, he began playing in rehab games with Triple-A Las Vegas and should be ready any day now. Once Lagares is promoted, there is no doubt he will return as the team’s starting center fielder.
This is when things will begin to get interesting once again for Terry Collins. There will soon be four players fighting for three spots in the outfield. All of whom have different attributes and cases to keep themselves in the lineup. Granderson, despite his sluggish start, will be given extended time to turn things around, given his track record. Lagares, showed us last year he is as good as there is in the outfield, and now he came out in 2014 showing us improvement with the bat as well. If he returns and continues to produce, Collins will have him penciled into the lineup every day. I think we can all agree with the fact that Lagares need to be playing every day and Granderson should be given the benefit of the doubt, for a little while longer at least, that he will find his groove.
This leaves the combination of Chris and Eric Young fighting for playing time. One provides power, the other brings speed. Both play quality defense, so that won’t separate the two much. Whatever Collins works out, lefty/righty match ups, or goes with the hot hitter, the Mets will be adding a nice player to their bench. Chris Young would provide the home run threat, while Eric Young, can be used in late innings as a pinch runner when a stolen base is needed. This is the only position I would be okay with a platoon situation occurring. I’m not much of a platoon fan, but I could at least live with it between these two.
It hasn’t happened often in recent history with the Mets, but they finally have a good problem on their hands. Fingers crossed Collins doesn’t turn this into a complete four man rotation, shifting the outfield around every other game, because that would drive me nuts.