While Juan Lagares did not start in today’s game against the Washington Nationals, he made a significant impact. In the top of the eighth inning with two runners on, Lagares robbed Nationals’ batter Jose Lobaton of an extra base hit with a spectacular diving grab. Lagares’ catch prevented major damage, and it was able to keep the Mets in the game. This kind of standout play defensively is not unusual for Lagares, and it is why the New York Mets must start him every day.
With his tremendous defensive skills in center field, Lagares is an impact player. He gets remarkable jumps on balls, and he has fantastic range. Lagares also has a very strong and accurate arm, so he has excellent ability across the board. The kind of defense he provides will prevent runs and be extremely beneficial to the Mets’ pitching staff.
While he struggled offensively last season, he should improve in this area in 2014. Lagares was only a rookie last season, and he was hindered early on with inconsistent playing time. Lagares has also shown he is a solid contact hitter in the minors, and he has been steadily making progress. His last three minor league seasons were his strongest, and his plate discipline has been improving.
It would be ridiculous for the Mets to deny Lagares the opportunity to start every day. He is a game changer because of his elite defense, and the concerns about his offense are overblown. He has the talent to repeat his performance from last season in the outfield, and he will continue to get stronger on offense with more experience.