Over the course of 162 games, there’s only so much influence a manager of any baseball team could have over their outcome. After 105 games the Mets actual record is 3 wins shy of their projected record of 53-52, making this a .500 team. Several factors contribute to this discrepancy like losing your ace pitcher to injury, scrambling for a closer to begin the season, developing a major league catcher, adapting to a new hitting coaches philosophy, and setting the most productive lineup possible just to name a few. What Terry Collins has done with this team to this point can only be admired, but help has arrived and changes must be made to maximize team production.
The move of Curtis Granderson from the cleanup to leadoff role proved to be successful as the team surged from June’s end through July. Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson’s slash line numbers are almost identical, batting average is the only big difference which Daniel Murphy leads Granderson by about.060 AVG points and make him a more ideal leadoff hitter. Curtis Granderson hit 6 home runs from the leadoff spot which minimized his RBI potential which essentially is the reason Sandy Alderson signed him. In moving Daniel Murphy into the leadoff spot, the Mets actually increase their leadoff OBP while putting Curtis Granderson into a role where his RBI opportunities increase dramatically.
Daniel Murphy’s SLG% is nearly that of Curtis Granderson with half as many HRs, meaning that Daniel Murphy is doing a better job of getting into scoring position than our current leadoff hitter. The only 2 reasons the Mets have kept Murphy out of the leadoff spot in the past were lack of speed on the basepaths and low OBP. Now Daniel leads our starting players in SB showing he has some speed and base running ability and his OBP is amongst the team leaders. David Wright being the best hitter on the team (despite struggles in 2014) deserves the 2nd spot in the order. His power has declined this season, however his OBP is still respectable and he should remain in a table-setting role followed by Granderson. Lucas Duda has earned his cleanup role as he’s hit over .280 in the past couple of months with at least 5 HRs per month. He is driving the ball to all fields and should be a key contributor to driving in runs once our table-setters do their jobs.
The top 4 lineup spots should be configured as follows:
1 2B Daniel Murphy (.293/.340/.412) 28 2B, 7HR, 11SB
2 3B David Wright (.278/.339/.401) 24 2B, 8HR, 5SB
3 RF Curtis Granderson (.232/.339/.415) 18 2B, 15HR, 8SB
4 1B Lucas Duda (.259/.356/.500) 22 2B, 18HR, 3SB
For the next spot in the lineup, this player has had a tale of 2 seasons. Travis d’Arnaud has adjusted quickly since his demotion to AAA on June 6th. Since being recalled on June 24th, d’Arnaud has a slash line of (.302/.337/.646). He has lengthened our lineup and has earned the spot of the 5 hitter.
5 C Travis d’Arnaud
Before June 6th demotion (.180/.271/.320) 3 2B, 3HR
Since June 24th Promotion (.302/.337/.646) 7 2B, 4HR
Season Stats (.232/.298/.379) 10 2B, 7HR
Right after Travis d’Arnaud in the Mets order is when they begin to look thin offensively. Having early success in the season but struggling as of recent is Juan Lagares, the defensive wizard and minor league doubles machine. This kid showed an advanced approach to lead off the year and is capable of making the bottom of our order a productive one. He isn’t seeing the ball well like he was in the first half, but we need to remember he is in his first full season in the bigs and known primarily for his route to catch baseballs and cannon for an arm, any offense is a plus.
6 CF Juan Lagares (.271/.306/.375) 16 2B, 2HR, 2SB
7 RF Chris Young/Eric Young/Kirk Nieuwenhuis/Bobby Abreu/denDekker
Our right field position is a question mark. I’m not saying the Mets haven’t produced anything from the position, but they don’t have an everyday right fielder which is a need to be addressed in the off-season or via trade before Thursday’s deadline. Though not one player has stepped up and taken over this position, I still believe they have produced more than my “ideal” 8 hitter, Ruben Tejada. In every championship team there is that one scrappy player that is on the squad solely for defensive prowess. Through the course of the season I have seen many different Ruben Tejadas. I’ve seen the defensive shortstop, the slap hitter, the kid in way over his head, and the wanna-be slugger with warning track power. This player is undoubtedly our 8 hitter and those who look too dependently on his OBP must take into consideration how many times he has walked for the sole reason that the worst hitting pitching staff is just 4 pitches away.
Ruben has been intentionally walked 10 times, twice as much as any player on the Mets. Ruben Tejada hasn’t defended the way he has in the past which quieted his lack of offense. In a New York setting, he shouldn’t start and the Mets executives know that. Ruben is a bridge to the future, an inexpensive filler until we land in a position of contention where an offensive producer is necessary at the position. Until then we have a shortstop with a strong arm and instincts but lacks the speed to get too many balls up the middle or steal a base when we need him to. He has no power and is offensively irrelevant as his slash line below shows. A shortstop with any tools is an upgrade here.
8 SS Ruben Tejada (.226/.351/.281) 9 2B, 2HR, 1SB