Lucas Duda’s ascension to the top of National League leaderboards has left Eric Campbell with few opportunities to crack the starting lineup. However, with offense in demand and a lack of production at the position, it’s time to give the 27-year-old rookie a shot in left field.
Since the All-Star break, the New York Mets have scored three runs or fewer in 13 out of 17 contests. The need for offensive production exists, but the current crop of left fielders are just not cutting it.
While Campbell may never be a quality starter, he has shown the ability to string together good at-bats and get on base, which is more than can be said about the team’s other options—just ask Bobby Abreu, who was designated for assignment yesterday. The mismatched parts still left on the roster aren’t impressive either. Eric Young Jr., Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Chris Young all have major flaws at the plate.
This season Campbell has put together strong numbers, albeit in limited opportunities, hitting for a .319 batting average, a .362 on-base percentage, and a .412 slugging percentage. While there are a few red flags for Campbell, including a very high BABIP and a high strikeout rate, until he fails on the major league stage he’s the one option the Mets have who hasn’t failed in the past.
|Eric Young Jr.||.226||.309||.299||.278||78||21.3%|
An argument against Campbell getting playing time in the outfield is that he will almost surely be a below-average defender. While this is no doubt true, both Youngs have posted negative defensive WARs this season, and only Nieuwenhuis has posted solid defensive numbers.
All four of these players have flaws, but it’s clear that the playing time in left field should be going to Campbell and Nieuwnehuis.
While logic seems to dictate the previous statement is obvious, Nieuwenhuis has spent the last few weeks in Triple-A, and Campbell has received only an occasional opportunity since the All-Star break, getting just 11 at-bats overall. Campbell has also been given little chance to play left field this season, appearing in only ten games and playing in only one full game there.
As the Mets fight to achieve a certain level of relevance, they cannot forget about developing players. Giving Campbell a more significant opportunity both helps the team's offense in the short run and helps the team figure out exactly what they have in Campbell.
We’ll see if the latest outfield shakeup changes anything, but if history is any indicator Campbell and his .362 on-base percentage will continue to have a near-permanent spot on the bench.