When Juan Lagares came back from the DL last week, the New York Mets officially had a logjam in the outfield with four players for three spots. But despite Terry Collins saying that he would rotate the four outfielders, it’s obvious that Eric Young Jr. is the odd man out, and that’s the way it should be.
Young played just one game since Lagares returned, and that was only because Collins wanted to load up his lineup with lefties on that particular day. He had ample opportunities over the first month of the season to secure an everyday spot in the lineup, but he failed to do that due to too many strikeouts and a low OBP. After almost a full year with the team, the Mets have discovered what the Colorado Rockies knew when they traded Young to New York last year, which is that he’s not an everyday-caliber player.
With Young on the bench, the Mets have been using Lagares in the leadoff spot, which isn’t ideal; but despite only drawing three walks this season, he has a much higher OBP than Young Other than the time he missed due to injury, Lagares has been the Mets’ best player this season, and without any obvious candidates for the leadoff spot, Lagares needs to stay there in order to maximize the number of at-bats he gets.
The Mets’ other outfielders, Chris Young and Curtis Granderson, are both showing signs of life at the plate, and considering the power each player possesses, they can’t be removed from the lineup in favor of Young right now, even on a part-time basis.
Of course, being on the bench doesn’t mean Young can’t contribute. He gives the Mets’ bench a switch hitter, which should make him useful, especially in situations where he has a chance to lead off an inning. He’s also the ideal pinch runner late in games, as he’s been successful on 12 for 13 stolen base attempts this season. He can do a lot of damage on the base paths, especially if he doesn’t have to worry about finding a way to get on first base.
So while the Mets still need Young to contribute coming off the bench, having him be the odd man out of the outfield is the right move. If he were better at getting on base and putting the ball in play, it’d be a different story, but right now Lagares, Granderson and Young need to be in the Mets’ outfield every day.