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Let's Split Up, Gang!

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Would you want this player playing firstbase for the Mets next year?

versus Righties: .286/.373/.523

versus Lefties: .276/.335/.486

That's a .896 OPS versus righties and .821 versus lefties.

What about this guy at right in 2010?

versus Righties: .254/.315/.452

versus Lefties: .333/.348/.486

.767/.834 OPS. Not an ideal line, but much better than what they usually get in the corners. Could I sell you that line with the promise of good defense?

Most of you know from the title that these two hypothetical players are, in fact, four players. The firstbaseman is Adam LaRoche's 2009 line versus right-handers and Nick Evans' Major League Equivalent 2008 AA stats v. left. Jeff Francoeur's 2009 vL and Ike Davis' 2009 AA MLE's vR compose the rightfield line.

The Mets, somewhat strapped for cash and with many holes to fill, have plenty of incentive to platoon some players in 2010.The cost would be at most one cheap free agent, possibly starting the service time clock of Ike Davis, and Jeff Francoeur's arbitration settlement, which for better or worse, I'm guessing the Mets will entertain. This approach also allows the team to capitalize on the talents of its "fringe" guys.

First, Nick Evans begs to be an everyday player against lefties, whether in the outfield, at firstbase, or both. During his short major-league tenure, Evans has hit an underwhelming .242/.292/.386. Amazingly, however, he has hit a fantastic .316/.380/.469 against lefties, who he has appropriately faced more often. The split is just as dramatic in his minor league numbers. I translated his 2008 AA numbers because they were the last time he got regular work at one level, making the translation easier. That season he posted a 1.107 OPS vL in 104 plate appearances. Nick's free-swinging ways will likely prevent him from ever being an everyday firstbaseman, an assessment the Mets seem to agree with to the point of rarely even playing him in this lost season. There are three left-handed firstbaseman in particular who figure to be available this offseason: Adam LaRoche, Carlos Delgado, and Russell Branyan, who have historically large platoon splits and could be signed within the Mets budget.

Young Isaac Davis is another left-handed firstbaseman many will consider for next year's job, who too has a problem against same-handed pitchers. His lofty prospect status, and perceived improvement against lefties in Bingo (.780 OPS with an alarmingly high-BABIP) make him a less likely platoon-mate. Most people, myself included, would rather he become a more well-rounded player, but a win-now situation could force him into a part time role, learning lefties in mostly pinch-hit scenarios. The Francoeur/Davis platoon idea stems from their opposite platoon splits and their physical and defensive similarities. Each is 6'-4" with tons of raw athleticism, both have arms strong enough to pitch. Davis is working on his RF defense right now with team USA and Jeff Francoeur loves the USA.

Also a quick note on Jeff Francoeur's defense: hold your judgment. Zone ratings like UZR really hate his tenure with the Mets and I suspect that is a combination of uncharacteristically poor play and Citi Field's strange dimensions throwing the stats off. As anecdotal support for this claim check out his THT fielding stats, indicating he's made fewer plays in his zone but out-of-zone plays at a higher rate.

Earlier, I threw around the idea of a Nick Evans/Ike Davis platoon, but considering the fairly attractive options for left-handed firstbasemen, this idea makes more sense. Assuming Francoeur resigns and the Mets bring in at least a stop-gap option for leftfield (Coco Crisp?), Davis and Fernando Martinez could fight in AAA to eventually displace Francoeur or reduce him to a part-time role. This proposal also assumes the death of the Daniel Murphy at firstbase at experiment, as frankly, his bat will not play there, and his style of hitting is more suited for super-sub role than a platoon.