Juan Lagares has lately looked more like the player we saw during the 2013 season than the one who had a red-hot start during the first two months of the season. His offense has suffered mightily ever since he came off the disabled list recovering from the strained hamstring he suffered in May.
Collins on Juan Lagares: "He is trying way too hard. We’re trying to get him to reduce the strike zone, and he’s enlarging it.”— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) July 26, 2014
Lagares’s batting line of .295/.337/.429 before his injury has now dipped to .272/.305/.374. His defense more than justifies his playing time, but providing generally solid offense has allowed him to be an everyday player this season. That solid offense has slipped over the last month, as he has a .529 OPS in 78 at-bats since late June.
During yesterday’s Mets broadcast, Keith Hernandez talked about Lagares’s approach at the plate now compared to a couple of months ago, specifically with respect to hitting curveballs. Hernandez mentioned that the breaking ball moves a bit slower when you’re hitting better, allowing you to lay off the pitch in the dirt. Lagares struck out on a curveball thrown from Yovani Gallardo that broke into the dirt, which was Lagares’s sixth strikeout in the past five games.
Lagares has done a better job of swinging at pitches in the strike zone this season, which helped him cut down on his strikeout percentage earlier in the season. His recent struggles are reminiscent of the player that used to constantly chase pitches out of the zone, and that’s something manager Terry Collins and hitting coach Lamar Johnson will continue to work on.