By: Glenn Brewer

2016 Outfield Expectations


The outfield turned into a strength from the trade deadline all the way to game 5 of the World Series. The outfielders returning for 2016 will be Michael Conforto, Michael Cuddyer, Curtis Granderson, and Juan Lagares. As impressive as Lagares, Granderson and Conforto were in the playoffs, Cespedes is missing from the list. Cespedes has clear assets and flaws, but his presence in the lineup will certainly be missed. The versatility of playing centerfield and left field was important. With the group going forward, we will take a look at the realistic expectations for next season.

Michael Conforto had a wonderful start to his major league career after debuting on July 24th. Conforto finished with an impressive 9 homeruns in 174 at bats, while hitting .270. In the post season, Conforto displayed his power with 3 homeruns in 30 at bats. At times, Conforto did seem out of place in the majors, but that is to be expected with a rookie. Most of Conforto’s starts came against right-handed pitchers. Conforto has shown some success against lefties, but for now he is strictly a platoon player. This will continue into the 2016 season as Conforto learns the pitchers and gets comfortable with a full major league schedule. Although Conforto was scouted as a below average fielder, he has proven to be solid in left field. With Cespedes gone and Cuddyer not producing, Conforto should have more starts against lefties, but it is important not to be rushed into the top of the order. Despite the early production, Conforto needs to continue to adjust to major league pitching. I have hopes of going after Justin Upton, but it would be beneficial and more realistic for the Mets to sign Gerardo Parra.

Cuddyer had an extremely disappointing season in his first year in Queens. Cuddyer was brought to the Mets to provide a solid, middle of the order bat. Unfortunately Cuddyer could not stay healthy and when he was healthy, his production was down. The 2015 season was one to forget for Cuddyer as an individual, hitting just .259 with 10 homeruns. During Septmeber, Cuddyer came off the DL and had a hot week, but then injured himself again. The playoffs did not treat Cuddyer much better with only 2 starts. Cuddyer is far from the power threat he was in Colorado. At best, Cuddyer will platoon in the outfield and at first base with Lucas Duda. I do not expect much production from Cuddyer, but he will provide character in the clubhouse.

Curtis Granderson had a bounce back season with the Mets in 2015. Granderson solidified the leadoff spot and became arguably the Mets MVP. Reunited with his old hitting coach, Granderson and Long changed Granderson’s plate approach. The plate discipline was astounding, and truly made Granderson a different player. The homerun production was over 20 again, and clutch hitting became a constant. Although Granderson had trouble with lefties, he was able to play most days and produce. In the field, Granderson was extremely solid. Granderson has a below average arm, but was able to track down the routine balls as well as some difficult balls. As usual, Granderson was the model teammate and has become a true leader in the clubhouse. Granderson will be asked to produce a similar season in 2016 and play every day in right field, while leading off.

Finally, we come to Juan Lagares. After a breakout season in 2014, Lagares had a very disappointing 2015. By the end of the season and into the playoffs, Lagares was a platoon player and defensive replacement in centerfield. Lagares did not possess the same arm strength he had in his 2014 gold glove campaign. At the plate, his weaknesses were exposed and he was at best a bottom of lineup hitter. In the playoffs, Lagares found his stroke and produced with limited playing time. It is time to come to grips with what Lagares is as a player. Lagares is a plus plus defender when healthy, but lacks plate discipline. Lagares has not grown as a hitter and is not an everyday player. Having said that, Lagares can play everyday surrounded by a lineup with solid hitting. Right now, the Mets offense is not deep and needs production in every spot in the lineup. If the team was able to sign a power bat like Justin Upton, they could afford to have Lagares play centerfield more often. With that signing being unlikely, the Mets again could benefit from an outfielder like Parra to take the majority of the at-bats in centerfield.

About Glenn Brewer

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