3/1/17

Reese Kaplan -- Making the Pieces Fit Best

15 comments
While there have been a great many articles already written about the leadoff conundrum, the questions for the Mets go much deeper.  The manager has made some would say puzzling batting order decisions, the most obvious of which is the ongoing use of Curtis Granderson at leadoff.  Let’s start with a blank sheet of paper and figure out the optimal way of using the available resources.

Leadoff
An ideal leadoff batter would have a high OBP, ideally good baserunning speed and someone who is adept at taking a walk to force pitchers to work harder.  Obviously Jose Reyes fits the bill in that role, but his availability in the lineup is very much dependent on the health of teammates who will push ahead of him on the depth chart if available to play. 

Curtis Granderson performed shall we say better than expected in that role.  For a guy who struggles to hit .240 his OBP is surprisingly strong.  He’s very good at taking walks, and although his baserunning ability isn’t what it once was, he won’t resemble Jay Bruce or Wilmer Flores going 1st to 3rd.  The problem with Granderson has always been the high strikeout totals which are the very antithesis of what you want from a leadoff guy.  He’s a Plan B (perhaps still Plan A) is Jose Reyes is not in the lineup. 

My oddball choice for leadoff (if healthy) is Captain David Wright.  High OBP?  Check.  Decent baserunning speed?  Check.  High number of walks?  Check.  Lower strikeout totals than Granderson?  Check?  Occasional power?  Check.  More importantly, the torque required to hit home runs has got to make him become more of a gap hitter and less of a big swinger.  Towards that end he could better serve the club there than in the customary middle-of-the-order position. 

2nd Slot 
One of the creature-of-habit selections made by the manager is that if you play 2nd then you must bat 2nd.  Neil Walker got a great many ABs at that position in the batting order.  No one can argue with success as he was on the way to his most productive season ever before the back problems prematurely ended his season.  However, he’s showing he has middle-of-the-order potential and, to some extent, is perhaps wasted in the two-hole.

Again, without knowing the health of the other players it’s hard to speculate, but I could also build a case for David Wright being a number 2 hitter at this stage of his career.  That slot in the order should belong to someone who can take a pitch to allow the leadoff guy to run, who has good bat discipline and who is adept at hitting behind the runner. 

The other obvious option would appear to be Asdrubal Cabrera.  He’s in many ways a clone of Neil Walker.  They both hit for power, modest strikeouts and hit .280 and .282. 

The less obvious choice is a guy who strikes out relatively little and needs to learn he doesn’t have to hit the ball over the wall to be successful.  That would be Travis d’Arnaud.  The thing that makes him less than ideal here is his baserunning speed and the likelihood he could turn a leadoff hitter’s success into a double play. 

3rd Slot
This one is pretty much without argument.  It should go to the best overall hitter on the club and that would be Yoenis Cespedes.  He is a bit odd in that he has reverse platoon splits but the manager usually doesn’t notice such things (witness his use of the bullpen).  Towards that end some might say with the Mets’ plethora of lefty hitters, you might want to sandwich Cespedes between a few of them.  I’m not averse to that if one of the lefties is Michael Conforto.  However, with all-or-nothing hitters like Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda I’m not sure I’d buy off on giving any of them that 3-hole. 

Cleanup
Here is the spot for your traditional masher – the guy who is guaranteed to hit 30+ long balls.  I’ll take hell for saying it, but of the three lefty choices that honor goes to much maligned Jay Bruce whose annual totals far exceed what Lucas Duda has ever done and what Curtis Granderson can do at this stage of his career. 

5th Slot
Here is cleanup hitter-lite.  It should be a guy who can knock the ball over the wall and rack up good RBI totals.  Although it gives you two lefties in succession, that role belongs to Lucas Duda. 

6th Slot
Neil Walker has hit for more power over the course of his career than has Asdrubal Cabrera, so he’s the next logical hitter.

7th Slot
By default (not through any fault of his own) that would make Asdrubal Cabrera the natural hitter to follow Walker in the lineup. 

8th Slot
Well, if they don’t consider moving d’Arnaud than this spot is where he belongs until he proves he can hit at least as well as he did in the 2015 season. 

Recommendation With Wright (Against Righties)
  • Granderson
  • Wright
  • Cespedes
  • Bruce
  • Duda
  • Walker
  • Cabrera
  • d’Arnaud


Recommendation Without Wright (Against Righties)
  • Reyes
  • Granderson
  • Cespedes
  • Bruce
  • Duda
  • Walker
  • Cabrera
  • d’Arnaud


Recommendation With Wright (Against Lefties)
  • Wright
  • Cabera
  • Cespedes
  • Bruce
  • Flores
  • Walker
  • d’Arnaud
  • Lagares


Recommendation Without Wright (Against Lefties)
  • Reyes
  • Cabrera
  • Cespedes
  • Bruce
  • Flores
  • Walker
  • d’Arnaud
  • Lagares


15 comments:

Thomas Brennan said...

All line ups are very good choices and potentially very productive. No Colin Cowgills need apply.

Wright leading off? Makes sense until you realize he is too fragile for that. He'd last a week. "I slid and I can't get up."

Mighty early, but d'Arnaud is hitting mighty well. Keep it up TDA!

Adam Smith said...

Wondering if Amed Rosario can hit lead off.

Thomas Brennan said...

Hi Adam, I'll bet Rosario can hit lead off when he is finally called up. Hits well, good speed.

Nimmo and Cecchini could also fit the bill in 2018...both have at least average speed and hit well enough and get on base a lot. I think both will show decent lead off power too.

Mack Ade said...

I agree that Reese has done a good job here with the lineups and my guess is Reyes will be the lead off hitter for most of the games in April. I tend to think about these things monthly.

However...

the battle for third base isn't over yet in camp and I still think that Cecchini can beat out Reyes for this starting position.

Reese Kaplan said...

The Skipper has spoken and already declared Jose Reyes his starter. The "competition" is over for anyone under 30 no matter what they do. Ask Michael Conforto about that, too.

Reese Kaplan said...

Here's the report from THe Daily News:

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/mets/terry-collins-stays-positive-wright-reyes-start-article-1.2985057

Christopher Soto said...

Gavin Cecchini has 0 chance to win the 3B job over Reyes right now.

Sure he had nice bat to ball skills but that's it.....again....right now.

I still believe that as he matures that he can develop into a player similar to Matt Carpenter (before the 2015 power surge).

A low K, high BB contact oriented doubles hitter who can hit at the top of the line-up.

Carpenter's 2014 stat line is what I think we could expect peak Cecchini to be.

.272 AVG, .375 OBP, .375 SLG, 99 R, 8 HR, 59 RBI, 5 SB, 33 doubles, 13.4% BB rate, 15.7% K rate

I'll take that every year from my leadoff hitter....but he's just not there yet

Eddie Corona said...

Chris I think matt carpaenter is a good comparison on the type of player Cecchinni could be...Yes I see no way he is on the big club at the start of the season...

bob gregory said...

Dropping Granderson into the lower end of the lineup, in favor of bringing Cabrera up into the 2nd spot should be thought about as well

Reese Kaplan said...

Daniel Murphy may be a good comp. He had a power surge one year and much later in his career.

Christopher Soto said...

The reason I didn't compare him to Murphy is because Murphy doesn't take BBs like Cecchini does

Reese Kaplan said...

I thought the other thing they had in common was that they exist for their bats and not for their gloves.

Eddie Corona said...

Reese that may not be true at 2b or 3b... all we know is Cecchini is not a SS but he could be as good as Walker who today rates negatively it the Defensive metrics but to the eye make the plays necessary...

Reese Kaplan said...

The same can be said of Asdrubal Cabrera and (sound the alarms) Jose Reyes. I think the good feelings people had for Reyes overshadowed his defensive shortcomings last year and his horrific performance against righties.

Eddie Corona said...

Reese your right about that... I was very happy with Cabrera at SS... I was very impressed... Kind of makes you excited to think Rosario will be better than that and could actually get to more balls...

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