Juan Lagares Better Than Willie Mays
My “boss” at ESPN — David Schoenfield — penned (typed?) a piece titled “The Current All-underrated Team.”
Schoenfield chose Juan Lagares as the team’s center fielder, saying, among other things:
“Lagares has certainly received recognition as perhaps the best defensive center fielder in the majors — winning his first Gold Glove in 2014 — but because he’s not a big basher at the plate, he still seems undervalued overall. And he’s not a zero on offense. He hit .281/.321/.382, nothing great, but that makes him about a league average hitter.”
You should read the entire article to see how Schoenfield compares Lagares to Willie Mays.
I grew up in the Willie-Mickey-Duke era and have always gotten a thrill at watching great centerfielders. Since metrics on fielders are not my cup of tea I still use the eyeball test. Lagares has been a joy to watch but its hard to compare.
In his younger days Mays had the vast outfield at the Polo Grounds to show off his stuff. In SF he had to deal with the winds and that terrible chain link fence.
Mickey wasn’t as quick, but once in full stride he appeared to outrun baseballs. Old Yankee Stadium was a pretty big pasture to cover. Of course, he couldn’t throw like Willie.
Duke had the smaller ball park, and probably didn’t cover as much turf as Willie, but he was a master at climbing the walls. Old-timers (older than me!) talked of his spike marks on the wall at Connie Mack (Shibe Park) in Philly.
In the more modern era I’ve always been partial to Andruw Jones in his younger days. Played a shallow CF but could cover the ground and had a great arm.
Lagares still has to put in more time to make his mark.
I can think of a few OFs who were just as good as Lagares at going back on the ball or into the gaps, but the way he charges the ball and gets rid of it quickly, with serious mustard on it, might be pretty unique (and also maybe why he hurt his elbow?). I heard one commentator say Lagares is the only OF he’s seen who fields like a shortstop, which I thought was pretty cool.
By the All-Star break, Flores will have passed Honus Wagner on the list of all-time greatest shortstops.
Fired up for 2015. Hopefully, Wilmur is taking ground balls right now.
The title of this post says “Juan Lagares Better Than Willie Mays” but in actuality the article by Schoenfield – one of my favorite writers about baseball – simply says that BY ONE METRIC (i.e., viewing something through one particular lens) Lagares MAY BE BETTER at ONE POSSIBLE AREA of baseball.
Defensive stats are known to be unreliable and Schoenfield is simply stating that according to one particular means of analyzing something called “runs saved” Lagares may be better…not really a big deal. It’s impressive, but as Schoenfield would surely admit, this one metric is not dispositive of the issue and no one could definitively state that Lagares was a better defensive player than Mays (and forget about offense).
But of course you entitle this post “Juan Lagares Better Than Willie Mays” as if Schoenfield has implied that Lagares is a better player than Mays now, or will have a better career than him…and the vagueness of the title seems to imply that Lagares is better all-around rather than possibly in one specific area.
Again, the negativity seems excessive and unnecessary. You have adopted this Fire Joe Morgan style of analysis where you jump down everyone’s throat from GKR, Alderson, Collins, Schoenfield or whoever else for seemingly innocuous comments.
Hopefully Schoenfiled reads this blog. If he reads this particular comment, I would like to tell him that I read pretty much every article on Fangraphs and pretty much everything he writes; I find his opinions to be very thoroughly researched and well-substantiated by statistics. Doesn’t mean I agree with everything he writes, but I find the articles an interesting and sometimes even compelling read.
The headline for this post had one specific goal: to make you click and read David’s piece. It seems the headline succeeded. Obviously I like and respect David, too, and so I want to lead the MetsToday audience to his posts.
I suppose that was off-topic, but whatever, I’m following Joe’s lead and keepin’ it loose. 🙂
Sure, he gets something wrong now and again but I like his work. I’m a big fan like I said previously.