Anytime a ball was hit in the general direction of Juan Lagares, Mets fans could breathe a sigh of relief. He was usually going to catch it--in spectacular fashion if required. Today he was honored for that defensive prowess, earning the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award for the Mets.
Lagares, 24, posted a 21.5 Ultimate Zone Rating, which was second-highest for big league center fielders behind only former Mets prospect Carlos Gomez. Lagares led all center fielders with 14 assists, which is particularly impressive considering that he only started 88 games at the position. He brought the total defensive package, combining good speed with excellent routes to cover tons of ground. He also displayed a very strong and accurate arm, getting rid of the ball quickly to cut down baserunners time and time again. He showed some flair for the acrobatic diving catch and seemed to genuinely want guys to run on him.
The Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Awards started in 2012, and it works a bit differently from the Rawlings Gold Gloves. Instead of awarding a player at each position, Wilson chooses the best defender on each team and also recognizes the best individual defender in each league and best defensive team in each league. Last year, David Wright won the award for the Mets.