After smart moves made at the trade deadline, the Mets finally have a decent offense. Curtis Granderson is having his best year since leaving the Yankees, Michael Conforto is starting to measure up against major league hitting, and even Juan Lagares and Michael Cuddyer are hitting respectably of late. This lineup is looking more and more like one that can go deep into October.
Except when Granderson and Conforto face left-handed pitching, or when Lagares and Cuddyer face right-handed pitching.
Throughout the year, Terry Collins has been reluctant to put players into platoons, but there are a number of platoons that make sense right now. The only current full-on platoon player is center fielder Juan Lagares, who starts against lefties, usually pushing Yoenis Cespedes to left field and Michael Conforto to the bench. But Lagares has less extreme splits than several of the players who take the field every day.
The most obvious example is Granderson, who is crushing right-handed pitching with a .913 OPS, but puts up a measly .401 OPS—that's not a typo—against lefties. Replacing Granderson with Lagares against left-handers would improve the on-base percentage by .168 in the leadoff spot. Granderson would then be a powerful bench option against right-handers, with Cespedes and either Cuddyer or Kelly Johnson filling the remaining outfield spot.
The infield could benefit from some platoons as well. Daniel Murphy, a left-handed batter who has played third, second, and first base this year, is showing similar splits to Granderson's, though his are not as extreme. His .801 OPS against righties is significantly better than his .592 OPS against lefties, but Murphy's versatility in the infield makes him difficult to put on the bench.
Still, the Mets have right-handed options at each of Muphy's positions: Juan Uribe (and soon, David Wright!) at third, Wilmer Flores and Kelly Johnson at second, and Michael Cuddyer at first. Murphy makes sense as an everyday player because of his versatility, but that same versatility would make him a valuable bench player on days when a left-hander is on the mound.
This is not to say that the Mets should use strict platoons every day. Of course, there is more that goes into making the lineup than a player's righty-lefty splits. But the (exhilarating) fact is that the Mets are a team in serious contention, which further underscores the importance of playing the most effective lineup available for every game.