Right off the bat, I want to say that I know that there is a slim to none chance of this happening, but New York Mets center fielder Juan Lagares should win a Gold Glove this year for his play in the outfield.
He’s a lowly rookie on a second-division team that will go unnoticed because the Gold Glove is an award based more on past accomplishments and notoriety than it is on what actually happens on the field. But if you watch the games and watch Lagares play, you’ll clearly see one of the top outfielders in the NL, and arguably the best defensive center fielder in baseball.
Lagares was promoted at the end of April, and while it took a while for him to adjust to big league pitching, it was obvious immediately that he had elite defensive skills. Once he started playing every day, Mets insiders began to compare him to former Atlanta Braves great Andruw Jones, which is the highest complement an outfielder can receive for his defensive abilities.
Like Jones, Lagares plays shallow in the outfight compared to the average center fielder, but also like Jones, he is great at going back on fly balls and makes difficult plays appear routine. Not only does Lagares cover a ton of ground in the outfield, but he also has a strong arm, which opponents have quickly learned to fear.
Despite only playing part of the season as an everyday starter, Lagares has 12 outfield assists, which leads the National League. He has saved 27 runs this year, which is an extraordinary amount of the number of innings he’s played this season.
The play of Lagares in the outfield became one of the catalysts for the improved play of the Mets in the middle of the season. His defense is also a big reason why he would make a great choice as the Mets’ center fielder of the future.
Lagares was named MLB’s defender of the month in August with 12 saved runs, which means he’s starting to gain some well-deserved praise for his defense. When the award comes out after the season, Lagares probably won’t win a Gold Glove, but he should.
The fact that he’s a rookie on a bad team and hasn’t been playing the entire season will likely cost him, but those factors should be outweighed by the fact that he has proven to be one of the best defensive outfielders in MLB this season.
He won’t win it, but he deserves to win it; he’s earned it.