Juan Lagares’s remarkable defensive play continues to garner more attention around the league, and now he’s captured ESPN’s Defensive Player of the Month award for August. He had a league-high 13 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and was able to win the award for the second time in his career (he also won the honor last August).
The 25-year-old center fielder continues to flash his defensive brilliance with superb plays in the field and a strong arm that he uses to gun down potential runs at the plate. His defensive consistency has begun to draw comparisons to some high-end former players, and is becoming a bit unprecedented, according to Mark Simon.
Lagares entered September with 30 Defensive Runs Saved for the season. He’s the first outfielder to post back-to-back seasons of 25 Defensive Runs Saved since 2003, when Baseball Info Solutions (a data-tracking service for teams and media) began tallying the stat.
Mets first-base coach Tom Goodwin, a former big league outfielder himself, marvels at Lagares’s defensive abilities.
“He gets good jumps. And a lot of guys have to slow down when they’re coming up to the ball in order to catch it. He’s one of those guys who can maintain his speed and still be under control enough to make an accurate throw. Those things are hard to do. I had enough trouble myself, when I was playing, just trying to catch it. So I always had to slow down. And then I’d have to try to pick up my momentum. But he seems to be able to maintain that speed while he’s coming up to catch the ball and he maintains it all the way through.”
Fielding stats are known to be a bit inconsistent, but the eye test reinforces the stats’ judgment on how good Lagares has been for the Mets this season. His range seemingly has no limit, as he catches balls that seem destined to land deep in the cavernous Citi Field gaps. Let’s just hope that the amazing play continues because nothing beats Juan being Juan.