Trying To Pinpoint Lagares’ Defensive Problems

By DRS, the Mets are the worst defensive team in the National League. That is somewhat expected based on a number based upon the talent that was here. However, it is more than just the raw defensive talent, we are also seeing good defensive players like Juan Lagares really struggle defensively.

As noted by Mark A. Simon of The Athletic, the Mets have been one of the three worst shifting teams in all of baseball. In fact, the Mets are one of just four teams in baseball who has seen their shifts cost them runs. While it should be noted this article deals with ground balls and infield defense, it does speak to how the Mets are processing the data and putting their fielders in a poor position to field the ball.

As we saw with Manny Machado going from the Orioles to the Dodgers last year, we can see how teams shifting can help create poor defensive numbers for good fielding players. Possibly, that has been the case with Lagares who has an uncharacteristic -3 DRS in center this year.

When you look at Lagares’ sprint speed, he still has the same speed. According to Baseball Savant, Lagares’ sprint speed is 28.1 feet per second. Last year, when Lagares had a 17.2 UZR/150 and 5 DRS in just 128.1 innings, his sprint speed was 28.5 feet per second. In 2017, his sprint speed was 28.6 feet per second, and he had a 15 DRS and 22.8 UZR/150 in 566.2 inning in center.

Yes, he’s a step slower. Actually, it’s less than a step. While not impossible, it would be strange to suggest just that small of a drop off would turn Lagares into a Gold Glove caliber center fielder to a negative in the outfield.

According to a new stat, Lagares is just not getting the same “Jump” as he used to get on balls.

Mike Petriello of described jump as a stat “which helps us measure how quickly an outfielder gets moving toward the ball, often before a full sprint is even required.” Technically, the definition is “How many feet did he cover in the right direction in the first three seconds after pitch release?

With respect to Lagares, his Jump is 0.4 feet versus average, which puts him above-average among Major League players. His 35.3 feet covered is among the top 14 in the game. On the surface, these are good numbers, especially with him having good speed and reactions. However, there is more to it.

In 2019, he has had poor routes to balls. If you have watched games, you can see how many times he has just missed a ball. Your eye test is substantiated in the numbers as Lagares is no longer getting the Jumps he used to get. Back in 2017, Lagares was at a 1.6 feet versus average. This tells you part of the story.

What’s interesting is Lagares actually covered less ground. Sure, the 35.1 feet covered is a de minimis difference than the 35.3 feet covered this year. The same can be said of his drop in sprint speed.

Overall, when looking at the numbers, Lagares is just not the player he once was. He is a hair slower, and it has partially attributed to his ability to get to balls. This mostly show up in his “Jump.” That said, it’s difficult to put this all on Lagares.

Effectively speaking, Lagares has the same tools he had back in 2017 when he was playing like a Gold Glover. The main difference now is the Mets have someone else shifting the team. Whoever it is taking over, they are just not doing an effective job in putting players in the right spots. As a result, we not only see the Mets as the worst defensive team in the National League, we also see them putting still effective players in the wrong spots thereby creating career worst seasons.

15 Replies to “Trying To Pinpoint Lagares’ Defensive Problems”

  1. Jeff’s Weaver says:

    If he stole bases, dragged bunted, stopped hitting for power and pull, played the shallower approach as in the other “lifetime” he might be desirable to a playoff team.

    Supposedly he has worked hard in the cage.

    Yet, how does his arm stack up w the other outfielders?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      I’m not sure, but I do believe it hasn’t played as well since his elbow injury.

      1. Jeff’s Weaver says:

        I would be very worried about the outfield’s ability to throw out anyone after Lagares is dealt.

        Kelenic is rumored to be called up next fall.

  2. Gothamist says:

    I see waivers where a big market team will try him out and pick up the most if the remaining salary. Doubtful

  3. Gothamist says:

    Mets have 18 straight days without a day off?
    Against all winning teams?
    Eleven after four games at home, three four game series where they can possibly go 3-9.
    To lose multiple series three games to one?
    Where winning less than seven games is a very difficult nut to swallow.
    At the finish, that one day off may not serve too much rest to the bullpen?

    Any thoughts?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Mets are still afloat. We will see what happens when they get healthy.

      1. Gothamist says:

        That is hilarious!
        How many 8.0+ WAR players over three years under 33 years old are coming off the DL?
        Firing Callaway?
        Madden would not take $8 m a year from them…
        What talent to develop?
        What great under performers?
        Rosario will focus on stealing, Dee and offense all together in good time…
        Conforto needs a plan at the plate and he is doing it now!
        Nido looks better and better.
        The Cuban?

        Why fire Callaway….?
        For they try to hit five run homers in the ninth with no one on?

  4. What About A Movie says:

    When I think about an All Star Mike Conforto’s gun in right field comes to mind.
    Then his ten stolen bases, his .300 batting average and finally his actually RBI per two games at a pace for 80 a year….

    No, I rather have Jeff O’Neil leading off on my all star team and Pete Alonso in the derby.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Conforto is a more deserving All Star

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