By: Chris Schnupp

The Cespedes, Conforto Conundrum


There was never much hope of landing Yoenisonce free agency started, so the Met’s had made what looked to be some ok moves to shore up what was a fairly weak outfield. A few million later and Cespedes is back in the fold. He started in CF this spring before switching spots with Lagares with only a few days to go. But statistically speaking, what makes the most sense for the Mets?

Yoenis bounced around the outfield for Oakland until 2014 when he moves over to left. His career fielding in center would appear to be better with a .989 fielding %, except for the sample size there is much smaller, his .977 in left is well more established. The total runs saved above the average player for Yoenis at LF is a -6 and at CF is a -4. For those of you who are anti-statistical, it generally means that having Yoenis in CF would be better than in left. That is all good and fine, until you consider Lagares. Juan had a tough year in 2015, but his 2016 spring looks more like what we should expect. Juan’s lifetime rtot is a 13. So Juan will save you 13 runs in center, Yoenis will cost you 4. Conforto’s sample size in the bigs was way too small for it to be worth analyzing, but his minor league stats have him at about a .967 fielding.

So the best outfield right now is Yoenis/Lagares/Grandy. Keeping Lagares at CF and Yo at LF will save more runs, and result in less starting at the ball stuck under the outfield fence. That does leave Conforto’s bat on the bench. There are a few options that may work in this scenario:

Conforto heads back to the minors and waits for Yo to leave, Lagares to regress or Wright to land on the IR. This option saves service time on Conforto’s tenure, so it makes sense there, and allows him to play every day and hopefully hit a ton. De Aza can manage fill-in duty for the time being. If Wright goes down for an extended period you’ll want Conforto’s bat in the lineup to make up the power outage. In this case we’re going to sacrifice some defense in the outfield for some offense. That will not preclude Lagares entering as a late inning defensive replacement.

The other option is eventually use Conforto to replace Lucas Duda. Duda is incredibly streaky and prior to moving to first, as an outfielder, Duda was a disaster in the field with an rtot of -35. Costing the Mets 35 runs is exactly how he lands up at first, where is still a minus rtot, although a much more acceptable -2. You can send Conforto down and have him work on learning 1st, but you have Dominic Smith progressing through the system. 1B is usually considered a power position, and if you believe the scouts Smith’s power will eventually happen. Part of waiting for power is that it may never arrive. Conforto does not have to wait, his power game is here. He’s not overly impressive in the outfield, and a transition to first may be possible. It all depends on if you take Billy Beane’s side (it’s not that hard) or Ron Washington’s side (it’s incredibly hard) of the move to first argument.

What do you think the Met’s should do?

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