Mets Outfield: Worst in MLB?

Throughout the year, I didn’t give much thought to the various players trotting out to three outfield positions every Mets game. I kind of just glazed over the names and their attachments to LF, CF, and RF in the lineup.

Recently, though, it occurred to me: is the Mets outfield the worst in all of baseball?

I’m seriously wondering about this. Surely there is some statistical breakdown to provide an answer one way or the other — I’ll let someone else figure that out (if it’s already been done, please, post the link in the comments). Without the stats, judging only by what the eyes see from the outfielders in Mets uniforms as they track fly balls, throw to (or overthrow) cutoff men, run the bases, and take at-bats, I really have to wonder if there is a worse collection of all-around outfielders in MLB. I’m not necessarily saying Mets outfielders are terrible; rather, they simply seem to be incredibly ordinary (if one can be “incredibly ordinary”).

Here’s a question: is there a Mets outfielder you would want on your fantasy team? Even in a deep league? In a “keeper” league? I had Lucas Duda on my team for a few weeks, and I know some people picked up Kirk Nieuwenhuis when he was hot, but is/was anyone else worth a roster spot? Maybe Scott Hairston, though he plays too irregularly for most fantasy leagues.

The current Mets outfield is any combination of Andres Torres, Mike Baxter, Jordany Valdespin, Jason Bay, and Scott Hairston. They’re all average fielders; some argue that Torres is above-average but I disagree. All are average baserunners at best. All are average hitters at best, though some worse than others. Valdespin and Hairston occasionally blast one over the fence but otherwise, not much production coming from this group. How many MLB clubs can put up a winning record — much less win a championship — with a group of average players filling the outfield?

Of course, most fans remember the 2000 Mets that went to the World Series with what was considered a below-average group of outfielders. True, it was underwhelming, but the performance of Derek Bell, Jay Payton, and Benny Agbayani in 2000 was still more impressive than the top three Mets OFs of 2012. Agbayani had a career year, posting a .868 OPS, and all three of the 2000 regulars hit at least 15 homers and put up OPS above .770.

Looking around the rest of MLB, the only teams I see with similarly average or below-average collections of players tending the outfield are the Astros, Cubs, and Mariners — all terrible teams.

Is it a big deal to have an “average” or “below average” outfield? I think so — especially considering that the best comps listed above are last-place clubs. Unless a team has extraordinary players at most of the other positions, it’s difficult to put up a winning record. Looking at the 2000 Mets again, they had the greatest offensive catcher of all-time, spectacular production from Edgardo Alfonzo at 2B, and one of the best defensive infields in MLB that year, to make up for a below-average outfield. I’m not seeing a similar counter-balance from the current Mets personnel.

Perhaps what’s more concerning is that there doesn’t seem to be any help for the outfield corps coming from within the organization. Duda, Nieuwehnuis, and Matt Den Dekker are all struggling in Buffalo, and Juan Lagares — who will be 24 next March — seems to have hit a wall in AA. Maybe Brandon Nimmo and/or Wilmer Flores will eventually be patrolling the outfield in Flushing, but both seem to be at least two to three years away. In other words, unless the Mets are able to pull off a few trades in the winter, and/or make strong free-agent signings, it’s very possible the Mets will again boast one of the worst three outfields in MLB in 2013.

Does this concern you? Am I making too big a deal out of something that should be considered a minor issue? Or do you feel that the Mets desperately need to upgrade their outfield? Voice your opinion in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. DaveSchneck August 14, 2012 at 9:00 am
    Your suspicion is correct – this is a very weak OF. This offseason, Alderson will need to fix the problem from outside the organization, via trade or free agent. Likewise with the catcher and another late game arm. There is no excuse now, no Madoff lawsuit, no losing a draft pick, none. Harvey will be there and Wheeler not far behind. Otherwise, if they field a Mariner-type OF, they should have a Mariner-type ticket price.
  2. Dan B August 14, 2012 at 9:44 am
    As bad as the outfield is today, it could be worse next year after Hairston leaves via free agency (no way the Mets are going to be top bidder for a backup outfielder when they can’t afford starting outfielders). Assuming Bay is off the team next year, I can see an opening day outfield of Duda, Kirk, and Den Dekker. That outfield could set a record for strikeouts. It will definately be the cheapest outfield in the majors. If they resign DWright and/or Dickey, I just don’t see them buying even a minor free agent for the outfield.
  3. Crozier August 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm
    It would have been a good outfield:

    If Bay had returned to form;
    If Torres had played like he did two years ago;
    If Duda had fulfilled the promise he showed last year;
    If Nieuwenhuis had maintained his decent start.

    Didn’t happen. Ergo, one of the iffiest outfields in baseball.

  4. NormE August 14, 2012 at 5:37 pm
    1. Which OF’s will be available in the free agent market this off-season?
    2. Will ownership allow the front office to spend if a highly valued free agent outfielder is available?
    3. Why do Mets fans go through this charade every year?
    • MIKW S. August 14, 2012 at 6:51 pm
      Mets management names may change but the ownership monetary policies does not. As a result, the team is built around minor league players, poor free agent signings (i.e. this years selection of relief pitchers) and the wearing out of the few quality players on the team (i.e. David Wright). For the 2013 season, half the field position players need to be replaced plus the relief pitchers and, if the pitching coach was involved with their selection , he should be replaced as well.
  5. bca August 14, 2012 at 6:25 pm
    I really did think the outfield would be better. I was hoping Duda would perform and Kirk would maintain his potentional but did not happen. The Mets must sign some sort of upgrade next year at least to a 2-3 year contract which should be enough for Nimmo and company to hatch.
  6. prince jackson August 16, 2012 at 1:33 am
    I couldn’t agree more. This follows the Met philosophy over the past 10 years or so basically try to get it done with maybe one all star caliber of
    and two all so ran outfielders. You get what you pay
  7. Jesus-Enrique August 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm
    POTENTIAL Outfielders for 2013: Some may be expensive, so I guess we have little hope since the Mets ORG are so cheap. The fans shouldn’t pay for the ORG Madoff mishap. This is not the way to win back the fans, it is very disapointing.

    I they want to do good, get Michael Bourn and BJ Upton or Delmon Young; at least we can improve the defense and a solid leadoff guy at the top. Sign David Wright, and get some bullpen help. Whatever is left can be used for extensions and a starting pitcher not named Pelfrey……..please.

    Michael Bourn
    Marlon Byrd
    Melky Cabrera
    Matt Diaz
    Curtis Granderson *
    Josh Hamilton
    Torii Hunter
    Carlos Lee
    Angel Pagan
    Luke Scott
    Ryan Spilborghs
    Ichiro Suzuki
    B.J. Upton
    Shane Victorino
    Reggie Willits
    Delmon Young