2015 Mets Outfield- Where Does it Stand?

The health of 2014 Gold Glove CF Juan Lagares is paramount to a productive Met outfield.

The Mets made the first splash for 2015 by signing outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a two-year deal. With Cuddyer, the Mets get a veteran with a good bat for a corner outfield spot. The projected starting outfield for 2015 looks like:

LF- Curtis Granderson
CF- Juan Lagares
RF- Michael Cuddyer

on a daily basis. However, against tough lefties, Cuddyer should move to first to platoon with Duda, leaving the outfield like this: 

LF- Curtis Granderson
CF- Juan Lagares
RF- Eric Campbell

I cannot imagine Kirk Niewenhuis or Matt den Dekker will start many games with Cuddyer in the mix. Although, as a 35-year-old and with Juan Lagares needing rest and perhaps a game off against a tough righty or two, den Dekker should see 10-15 starts in 2015. The elite defender is a must-have on the 25-man roster--especially with the potential of a Juan Lagares injury. Eric Young Jr. returns to the same role from 2014. 

For a RHH rest day, the outfield will look like: 

LF- Granderson
CF- den Dekker/EY
RF- Cuddyer 


LF- Granderson
CF- Lagares
RF- den Dekker/EY

Let's give Matt den Dekker 15 starts, 220 at bats, and a number of late-inning defensive replacements for both Granderson and Cuddyer to total 450 innings--comparable to what Endy Chavez got for Seattle in a similar role last year. While Eric Young Jr. could see a similar work load, Cuddyer should cut into his time more than den Dekker's--as den Dekker is the superior defender. 

Lagares should see a small bump in innings for next year. 

The rest of the outfielders (Campbell, Kirk Niewenhuis if on the roster, and others) should be right around replacement level players. 

Last year's fWAR for the 2015 Mets outfielders: 

Juan Lagares: 3.8
Curtis Granderson: 1.0
Michael Cuddyer: 1.5 (season cut short by injury)
Matt den Dekker: 0.7

totaling 7.0 Wins Above Replacement which is remarkably close to the 7.1 WAR the Mets entire outfield unit gained in 2014 (this included Eric Young Jr., Bobby Abreu, Andrew Brown, Kirk Niewenhuis, and a staggering 287 at bats to Chris Young). 

Steamer's projections are so conservative that I would rather use my own. I'll give an optimistic and pessimistic range. 

Lagares: 3.0-4.6. I see no way Lagares slips below 3.0 WAR unless he misses a ton of time. I don't expect him to play more than 145 games given his playing style, but he should also make advances with the bat and he was steal-happy (and effective) late in 2014 on the bases. 4.6 is a nice ceiling for baseball's best defensive outfielder. 

Curtis Granderson: 1.0-3.0. I just do not see how Granderson could be worse than he was last year. He is too good to repeat 2014 and a number of things are working in his favor already: 1.) Better protection in the lineup with the addition of Michael Cuddyer and a healthy David Wright. 2.) Citi Field is getting smaller in right field which will add homers for LHHs 3.) A likely move to left field will help his defensive numbers. The above should add close to a full win to his value. With an offensive rebound, he could approach 3.0 WAR. 

Michael Cuddyer: 0.9-2.0. 0.9 is Steamer's projection and I do worry about the defense. Cuddyer will be a steady, albeit unspectacular player for the Mets but will not be more than a 2-win player. 

Matt den Dekker/Eric Young Jr.: 0.5-1.2. Floor is high, ceiling is low for these part-time defensive specialists. They will save a lot of runs with their gloves but create few with their bats. Valuable pieces, though, and will see a lot of playing time. 

The rest: Combine to 0.0 WAR. Until we upgrade the Kirk Niewenhuis' and Eric Campbell's of the world with better talent, they are replacement level players. We should find a true power bat off of the bench and preferably a RHH to give Cuddyer some time off when needed. Until then, the fill-ins not named den Dekker or EY do not contribute to above-replacement level value in 2015. 

Stephen's low-end 2015 Outfield WAR: 5.4
Stephen's high-end 2015 Outfield WAR: 10.8
Stephen's average 2015 Outfield WAR: 8.1

Based on these projections, the Mets outfield marginally improves from 2014 to 2015 with the potential to improve drastically, or possibly slip slightly. 

The Mets outfield finished 17th out of 30 major league teams with their 7.1 WAR in 2014. 

The Mets finished 17th in outfield Wins Above Replacement in 2014. 

With my optimistic projection, the Mets would have finished 8th in the MLB--a very strong showing for an entire unit. 

With my pessimistic projection, the Mets would fall to 20th, a mere three spots from their rank in 2014. 

With my average projection, the Mets would have finished a respectable 15th out of 30 major league teams in 2014--smack dab in the middle. 

The question is: Is the Mets infield and pitching enough above average to survive a potentially just-average outfield? 

Or, is the question, can the Mets outfield over perform and be a true strength? 

Of the ten playoff teams, seven (!) finished within the top 10 in outfield Wins Above Replacement in 2014. 

Given the absence of Chris Young from the outfield, I expect the Mets to hit my mean projection of 8.1 and I would not be surprised if they finish in the 9-10 WAR range and be close to, but not in, the top 10 units in baseball. I do see Granderson having a much better year but Michael Cuddyer does not add as much value as people think. Overall, a solid unit but far from dominant. 

Comment below: What sort of WAR value to you see a Mets outfield core of Juan Lagares, Curtis Granderson, Michael Cuddyer and Matt den Dekker/EY producing in 2015?



Mack Ade said...

Stephen, do you honestly see EYJ still making this team?

Anonymous said...

I would like the Mets to sign Jerry Sands FA. Need power bat on bench who can play OF/1B also.

Art Pesner said...

Why would you think EY is even going to be on the team. denDekker will certainly get more than 15 starts as the 4th outfielder.

Ernest Dove said...

Yeah EY seems like a great guy, but he's not gonna be in this team in 2015. Den dekker plays better defense and has more offensive upside. Even Puello can match the speed with higher upside as well (oh and they both make alot less). He will be somebody else's 'sparkplug' come April. I wish him well.

Thomas Brennan said...

Dekker will start many more than 15, IMO. Cuddyer will play about 5 games a week, for fear of him breaking down. Lagares will play a lot. Someone will get hurt at some point. If Dekker does not get 300 ABs, I'll be surprised. I'd still be happy with Puello as #5. Just as fast as EY, better OF, hits lefties, upside potential.

Kevin S said...

Puello would be my #5 unless I could trade Gee for Allen Craig. I think a hitter like Craig could get starts in the OF and 1B against lefties. You could run Cuddyer and Craig out there in the same lineup against lefties. He'd be a hell of a late inning pinch hitter instead of these light hitters we're used to (no offense Eric Campbell). If he has a strong year in that role, maybe another team that wants him next offseason as a starter offers you something nice in return.

Either way, Gee has no future with this team. Craig could.

Thomas Brennan said...

I ran the Craig-for-Gee by my brother Steve. Like red meat to a grizzlie - he was VERY enthusiastic about it.

Christopher Soto said...

Allen Craig only made sense as a starter.

He makes too much money and is signed for too many years to be used as a bench piece.

For the same amount of money you could add another piece to the bullpen and bring in a defensive oriented SS to back up Flores.

Hobie said...

With a Granderson-Legares-Cuddyer OF, it’s a good thing we have Superman in center. Still the offense that projects is negated somewhat by the defensive fringe in the corners.

I’d prefer to start out handing LF to Grandy & Cuttier withy additional AB’s for both when Cuddyer plays 1B (20G?) and RF to a Den Dekker/Puello partnership (adding AB’s with an occasional den D start in CF). I’d give that a full 3 months before defaulting to GLC lineup if need be.

Assuming Cuddyer gets slightly more PT than 2013 and Grandy reaches the new fences a little more often. I’ll project:
LF: Granderson/Cuddyer— 1.5/1.5= 3.0
CF: Legares— 3.5
RF: Den Dekker/Puello— 2.0 combined

There’s a problem for Kirk, of course. If he’s carried then there’s only one MINF UT.

The other day I facetiously suggested dealing Grandy & Flores/Murphy for Jose R. *There had been a flurry of Granderson deals wafting about) I woke up this morning thinking seriously about it.

Anonymous said...

They are not going to platoon their 2nd and 3rd highest paid players for the next two years, they will both start and get their rest, now it is a matter of who is the 4th and 5th OF

Mack Ade said...

I agree with Anonymous here.

The lion share of starts will go to the big three... Lagares, Grandy, and Cuddy

Thomas Brennan said...

Agree on "no platoon", anonymous. Dekker should get enough time just resting guys and as a late inning defensive guy.

Lagares plays very athletically but with reckless abandon - I'd sit him 20 games a year and keep him fresh. Cuddyer, older and more beaten up, I's slot for 120-130 starts. We don't need guys crumbling in August and September. Neither of those 2 are Cal Ripken Jr.

Hobie said...

I cannot help thinking that at the start of any given game, we have a better shot of winning with den Dekker in RF and Cuddyer in LF than with Granderson playing playing.

Now down 1 run in the ninth with 2 outs? Sure Granderson.

Stephen Guilbert said...

Yes, Mack, I do think Eric Young Jr. will be back with this team and he should be. He still offers more at this point than Matt den Dekker but both should have roster spots as 4th and 5th outfielders.

Puello's "speed" is nowhere close to EY's.

Why shouldn't we super platoon someone like Cuddyer? Fans realize he's a terrible...right? He's about a 2 win player. You can maximize him while maximizing Duda and limiting the amount of innings Cuddyer will suck in right field. And trust me--he will. Relax guys, he's still going to get 450 at bats. He's also 36 and coming off of an injury. He'll need time off as well.

Mack Ade said...

Stephen -

I have a different projected outfield than you.

My 5th guy would be Campbell who also gives me options in the infield

It may also allow me to carry an extra pitcher out of the pen

Stephen Guilbert said...

I don't think Eric Campbell or Kirk Niewenhuis have any business being on a major league 25-man roster. Again, I want the best 25 players I can get. Eric Young Jr, even at a few million more than last year, and Matt den Dekker are part of that top 25, short of any more additions. Kirk and Campbell are not. Not really even close.

Mack's Mets © 2012