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Mets Outfield Depth Is Troubling

Right now, the Mets starting outfield is likely Michael ConfortoJuan LagaresBrandon Nimmo. Now, there is every reason to believe that could be a good outfield. Nimmo was the second best hitter in the National League last year, and Conforto returned to his All-Star form at the close of the season. There are reasons to question Lagares’ bat, but when he plays, he is a Gold Glove outfielder.

The Mets have every reason to believe that when they play this trio they are putting a winning team on the field. Their problem is what happens when they don’t play.

Right now, the first man up is Keon Broxton. Over the last two years, Broxton has hit .213/.296/.419 with an 85 OPS+ over the past two years. While he did post excellent 11 DRS in just 134.1 innings last year, he was a -7 DRS in his only full season in center. He does have elite speed, which suggests he can be a plus defender next year, but there is nothing to suggest he can hit at all.

The Mets are also betting on Jeff McNeil in the outfield. Considering his sprint speed and his baseball IQ, there is every reason to believe he can play out there. However, there is a question about whether he can hit like he did last year. Lost in his excellent numbers was the fact McNeil had a 5.6 percent walk rate and a .359 BABIP. Those types of numbers are only sustainable if your name is Ichiro Suzuki.

Now, it should be noted it is perfectly reasonable to expect McNeil to be a quality Major League bench player, and he has shown you can trust him to play long stretches of time. If he is pressed into duty, the Mets and Mets fans should feel comfortable. However, what should bother everyone is the complete lack of depth behind him.

Rajai Davis and Gregor Blanco have not been good Major League players since 2015. The other options include Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis.

With respect to him, the reason why you play him in the outfield is because he has a strong arm, and there really isn’t room for him in the infield. However, it is not a long term or even a short term solution as he is slow footed making his play out there a bad idea. For Mets fans, you may assume this refers to Smith because of what you saw with him last year. It is, but the same statements also apply to Davis.

As for Davis, it should also be noted he has hit .190/.260/.321 in 444 Major League plate appearances. It should be noted that is worse than the .210/.259/.406 in 332 Major League plate appearances which has caused Mets fans to become frustrated with and sour on Smith. Put another way, if you don’t believe in Smith, you should not be believing in Davis, at least not as an outfielder.

After this group, you have to actually consider Tim Tebow. Sadly, that’s not a joke.  Well, it is a joke, but only to the extent where the Mets could actually be in a position to be forced to consider him.

When you are discussing players like Byrd and Blanco, and when Tebow even enters the discussion, it is clear the Mets outfield depth is completely lacking. Sure, we can believe in McNeil while liking Broxton’s defense, but in the end, the Mets don’t have enough depth across the outfield.

This all needs to be considered when Brodie Van Wagenen says the outfield isn’t a priority. When actually analyzing the options, you see just how wrong he is, and it’s another reason why the Mets need to puruse Bryce Harper or even A.J. Pollock. At this point, the Mets should also be looking at Adam Jones, Joc Pederson, or Ben Zobrist.

Really, just anything because what’s in place is not going to cut it.

34 thoughts on “Mets Outfield Depth Is Troubling”

  1. OldBackstop says:

    Marlon Byrd?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Honest mistake. Meant to write Rajai Davis. I fixed the mistake.

  2. OldBackstop says:

    You managed not too even say the word Cespedes, but if he were actually done with his career for sure (like Marlon Byrd) the Mets would be signing a major free agent, both for the need and with the insurance bucks. If you want to picture him as a regular starter for 81 games and all next year, then giving someone like Pollock a multiyear deal would be moronic.

    The reality is the uncertainty with Cespedes forces the Mets to scatter chips around the table behind Conforto and Nimmo and see if somebody shines. I think they are doing a good job, although another move wouldn’t shock me.

    1. LongTimeFan1 says:

      I think this is a Mets bashing article disguised as an outfield depth issue.

      How does someone write an article about the Mets outfield and not mention Cespedes?

      And not know the difference between Marlon Byrd and Rajai Davis?

      And make a case against McNeil’s bat because he’s unlikely to be the next Ichiro.

      Bash JD Davis’s bat and foot speed, not proofread multiple stats before publishing, and recommend players nearly as slow, or slower [per Statcast].

      1. metsdaddy says:

        It’s an article bashing the poor outfield depth, which is warranted considering the Mets are entering the season with just two starting outfielders.

        As for Cespedes, he’s a non-factor right now. Mentioning him is like mentioning Wright in 2017 and 2018, i.e. a pointless exercise.

        As fkf

    2. metsdaddy says:

      Cespedes had double heel surgery. At best, we’re talking about the second half for him. That’s the best case scenario.

      As such, you can’t enter a season planning to rely upon him. It’s really no different than relying on Wright, and we saw how that played out.

      1. OldBackstop says:

        It is not a question of relying on him. It is a question of suggesting Pollock, who is supposedly looking for four years, without mentioning Ces as a factor the second half of this year and 2020.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          We don’t know if Cespedes is a factor. If anything mentioning him would only underscore more how lacking the OF depth is.

          1. OldBackstop says:

            How can you say that our largest salary for the next two years, who will certainly be a starter when he returns, projected after the break, is “not a factor?”

            He is the BIGGEST factor affecting the Mets outfield next year.

          2. metsdaddy says:

            He had double heel surgery. That’s why he’s not a factor.

      2. WILL says:

        HE WILL BE READY IN END OF MAY ,,, RELAX LESS 15 LBS ……WONT PLAY BECAUSE METS HAVE INSURANCE . ? THEY CAN ONLY SULL THAT OFF A FEW MONTHS . LOOK FOR HIM TO RETURN IF THE METS START TO FLOP , iF THEY ARE NEAR TOP HE WILL SIT AND GET PAID WHILE THE METS DEAL WITH WHAT THEY HAVE ….

        1. metsdaddy says:

          No one has predicted end of May. The prediction has been post All Star Break . . . and that’s best case scenario

  3. LongTimeFan1 says:

    MetsDaddy. The outfield depth isn’t all that troubling. You might not like who comprises it, but there’s plenty options.

    It seems to me you have an agenda which leads you to over exaggerate and over dramatize..

    And clearly, in light of our previous disagreement over JD Davis vs. Wilmer Flores you make a point of slamming him in this article relying on your concocted comparison to the overweight Dominic Smith which you also previously did. This time though you went for the dramatic build up.

    Moreover, you claim Davis is too slow for the outfield, yet you recommend the Mets should consider trading for Joc Pederson or Ben Zobrist. Or signing Adam Jones.

    You also falsely/erroneously claim that Davis has 444 big league appearances instead of his actual 181.

    Quote: As for Davis, it should also be noted he has hit .190/.260/.321 in 444 Major League plate appearances.”

    Not only do you bash Davis whose put up really good minor league stats, you also bash McNeil just for the sake of doing so claiming it’s bad because McNeil isn’t likely to hit like he did last season unless he’s Ichiro. So you’re saying if McNeil hits .310 instead of .329, with an OBP of .370 instead of .381, that’s bad?

    Furthermore, you claim that Marlon Byrd is back with the Mets.

    Quote: “Marlon Byrd and Gregor Blanco have not been good Major League players since 2015.” And “When you are discussing players like Byrd and Blanco.”

    You suggest signing the injury prone AJ Pollack – which BTW, won’t resolve the depth problem you cite unless you expect the Mets to carry 6 outfielders on the 25 with a 4 or 5-man bench or that the Mets can trade Lagares for major league ready outfield prospects.

    You omit the additions of Rymer Liriano, a former consensus Top 100 Prospect who has spring training invite.

    You omit that Cespedes might return this season.

    You omit that TJ Rivera and Dilson Herrera can also be used in an outfield corner in an emergency or in utility role So too Dario Pizzano.

    You over-exaggerate the importance of Tim Tebow.. His defense is so horrible, he’s unlikely to get a meaningful call up replacing someone on the 25 before every other option is exhausted – which is highly unlikely. But, in the event that the Mets outfield is devastated by injury, the Mets can make a trade during the season or sign free agent.

    Lastly, BVW may not be done adding players. Yesterday, Callaway hinted more may be on the way.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      If you’re arguing Liriano, Rivera, and Herrera, you’ve conceded the point.

    2. OldBackstop says:

      Davis 444 PAs wee the line below in BBR for 162 game projected. I’ve made that mistake before. The rate stats are correct.

      Davis intriques me. Most of his at bats were in AAA last year, and he slashed .342/.406/.583/.988. He was a top closer in college with a wicked slider and has struck out 4 of the 11 major league hitters he has faced.

      And you really can’t compare him to Smith as a “disappointment.” He has only half the major league at bats, and he was never given a position and started regularly like Smith. Davis only has 28 major league game starts and those are scattered over three different positions. In about the same number of at bats AAA at bats last year, Smith slashed .258/.328/.380/.708 (see JD’s above) I would much, much, much rather have JD Davis on the roster than Dominic Smith.

      1. metsdaddy says:

        Smith is the better player, prospect, and is younger. Being objective, Smith is the better bet.

        1. OldBackstop says:

          Smith is only 19 months younger and already has a history of serious, serious obesity issues. 6’0″ and 260 lb was what he ADMITTED to. Then he lost 24 lbs, which still left him with a BMI well within obesity range. Then he gained it back. All before Age 22.

          If you look at his minor league numbers, he only had one outstanding year, and that was at the infamous Las Vegas. Aside from that his season high was 14 even carrying moose weight.

          I pull for all Mets. I hope he does well enough by May that we can trade him. We have about six better options at first base and the corner OF.

          1. metsdaddy says:

            Smith didn’t gain the weight back last year. If you’re going to besmirch him, at least he accurate.

            I’d also note he’s still young with some baseball analysts believing he’s better than Alonso.

  4. OldBackstop says:

    Anyway, I have high hopes for Lagares. He looked like a different player at the plate. We may not have a sterling vet 4 and 5 outfielder determined, but who does in January? It is supposed to be a competition.

    One thing we do have is athleticism, as all three of our probable starters plus Broxton, Rajal and Blanco have centerfield experience. You don’t like Davis, but he brings probably the strongest throwing OF arm in baseball. And you also neglected to mention that they have said D’arnaud might be looked at in the corners.

    Do an article figuring the 25 man….all these backyps are going to be pretty crowded…

    1. metsdaddy says:

      No, it’s not supposed to be a competition. It’s supposed to be about putting together a roster of your best possible 25 guys.

      As for experience, I don’t care if it’s washed up players who shouldn’t be counted on.

      As for Davis, Dom has a stronger arm.

  5. OldBackstop says:

    Broxton is a great role player for pinch runner and then late inning glove. We havent had speed in a long time.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Mets have plenty of speed with Nimmo, Conforto, Rosario, McNeil, Lagares, etc.

      Also, Broxton can’t hit, so he’s not a great role player.

      1. OldBackstop says:

        The Mets have plenty of speedy base stealers? We led the league in Caught Stealing. Each of the last two years we have had one player with more than nine SBs. Reyes was it two years ago. Rosario stole 24 last year, but he got caught 11 times, sabermetrically making it questionable whether he should be trying at all. And Conforto is on you Speed Team? He had three last year ….with four caught stealings.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Just because you don’t steal bases doesn’t mean you don’t have speed. I’d also note Broxton had just five SB last year, and on his only full season he had 21.

      2. OldBackstop says:

        Also the guys you list are all starters, except possibly McNeil. They aren’t going to be able to pinch run.

        I’m saying his role could be to pinch run late in a clise game for, say, Frazier, then replace, say, Conforto in left. Broxton, Nimmo, Lagares would be about as good as you could get in leather out there.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          If the guys you have on the basepaths are fast, the need for a PR is negated.

  6. Bob says:

    Broxton was a 20-20 guy in just over 400 AB in 2017. That is 30-30 over a full season. Not many players put up 30-30 seasons

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Broxton did go 20/20 with a terrible .299 OBP. You cannot play with a sub .300 OBP. It’s a nonstarter.

  7. oldbackstop says:

    “”No, it’s not supposed to be a competition. It’s supposed to be about putting together a roster of your best possible 25 guys.””

    For the last outfield spot? When has that not been a competition, anywhere. It is usually a range between young and old, seeing who is ready or who has faded. And determining roles. Maybe McNeil blows in the outfield. Maybe JD Davis hits .800. Maybe Lagares hits zero. Maybe position flexibilty becomes huge due to an IF injury. There may be favorites, but you can’t sit in January and say here are the 4-5 OFers.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Not just for the last OF spot, any spot. This isn’t American Idol. You build a team. You don’t hold tryouts.

      As yes, with Spring Training less than a month away, and with the Mets indicating they’re done adding to the OF, you say say this is the OF.

  8. Gothamist says:

    Great topic…..

    I know of the drop offs, the lack of a bat against lefties but I thought a one year deal with Markakis was very tempting. I hated playing against him.
    He even might have turned down the Mets. Well, that is my wishful thinking that they agreeed with me and pursued him. I saw no one else mention Markakis.

    Do you really ask McNeil to become an instant outfielder?

    Well, signing Pollack and having a trade in mind for McNeil all along was not the plan.
    The writing was on the wall in LA with the trade with the Reds and Pederson out their for the taking.

    If POLLACK ACCEPTED FOUR YEARS — I would be disappointed that he was not here yet with these injuries in long term deals: Wright, Cespesdes, Lagares even four years for fragile Pollack was a no for the Wilpons.

    The first stat I look at for an outfielder are assists.
    Would you want Jay Bruce throwing home in the World Series?
    We did not want Duda throwing home nor Murph sprinting in for a grounder against KC in 2016.
    Now that the infield bats has added a year older Rosario, Cano and Lowrie, then add Ramos I would drool if I knew Juanny would go injury free in 2019.
    Sure, Dom’s .210 does not leave me elated if that projects for a full timer yet who wins a WS with cumulative outfield assists way below average?
    In fact, as a GM in a rebuild I would not only preach defense as I would hope to draft great position players but I would acquire as many great arms for the outfield as possible and that is the one tool I had great difficulty giving up in Kelenic deal.

    1. OldBackstop says:

      “””The first stat I look at for an outfielder are assists..”””

      Yeah but that as a counting stat is murky …guys who are respected won’t get run on as much. Something like DRS or Range Factor is better.

      Even those aren’t great but they are better than assists.

      1. Gothamist says:

        So would it be intuitive to try to combine two of these? Thanks

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