Coming into 2013, no one was clamoring for a Juan Lagares call-up. Scouting reports were not particularly eye-catching, and despite his sizzling .346/.378/.551 start for the Triple-A 51s, there was not much buzz surrounding his major league promotion. He didn't see much action the first couple months of his big league career, but as he got more and more opportunities, two things became apparent:
- This guy could catch anything that was hit in the same zip code.
- He had a laser-sighted rifle for an arm.
Lagares finished the season as the Mets' regular center fielder, contributing a 3.5 dWAR and 21.5 Ultimate Zone Rating, the latter of which was second-highest for big league center fielders behind only former Mets prospect and current Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez. Lagares led all center fielders with 14 assists despite only starting 88 games at the position, and he won a Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award. It really couldn't have gone better in the field.
Offensively, it was a different story for the 24-year-old rookie. While he showed flashes of potential, highlighted by a .353/.408/.529 July, he often struggled at the dish, finishing the season with a line of .242/.281/.352, markedly below the average for the position, which was .261/.328/.402.
Lagares has been raking in the Dominican Winter League and did show a penchant for putting the ball in the gaps during the regular season, so there is hope that he can build on his rookie campaign and contribute a bit more offensively moving forward.
Desired 2014 role: Gold Glove-winning center fielder who provides average-or-better offense.
Expected 2014 role: Still shines on defense but is likely below-average with the stick.