MLB: Breaking Down Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay and the New York Mets' Outfield
One of the most disappointing moments of the Mets' 2010 season was not having a healthy outfield. Before last season even started, the Mets learned they would be without Carlos Beltran as he underwent knee surgery in January.
They did have Jason Bay, the team's biggest offseason acquisition, but after not performing for a majority of the season, he went down with a concussion in July and never returned.
Their only constant in the outfield was Angel Pagan who developed into an All-Star caliber ballplayer. This season, the Mets hope to have more certainty in their outfield with the same three guys, although where Beltran and Pagan will play is the big question coming into this spring.
Here is a complete breakdown of what to expect from the outfield trio.
Left Field: Jason Bay
Bay had as bad and disappointing a first season with a new team as possible in 2010 with the Mets. The Mets needed a leftfielder entering last season after the 2009 disaster with Daniel Murphy. New York went ahead and gave Bay a hefty contract for four years worth $66 million.
Which Mets outfielder will have the best season?
Just like David Wright in 2009, Bay struggled to get adjusted to the dimensions of Citi Field, hitting only three homeruns at home. It looked as if he was always uncomfortable at the plate, showing frustration every time a potential homerun would die at the warning track.
After being a strikeout machine and underperforming throughout the summer, Bay suffered a concussion at Dodger Stadium in late July after banging into the leftfield fence, eventually ending his first season in New York. He played in 95 games batting .259 with only 47 RBI.
Bay has said this offseason that he feels healthy and is past his post-concussion syndrome, and with one season at Citi Field under his belt, there are no excuses to not put up his pre-2010 numbers.
He must cut down on the strikeouts, be more patient and produce in the clutch if he wants to prove to the Mets that his contract wasn't a bust.
Projected numbers: .275 AVG, 21 HR, 98 RBI
Center Field: Carlos Beltran
About a year ago at this time, Beltran underwent knee surgery that apparently shocked the Mets and their front office. There was plenty of controversy surrounding him getting surgery without the team's permission and whether or not it would lead to his Mets days being over.
While the Mets were off to a good start to the season without him, there would be an update almost weekly on when exactly he was returning. Immediately after the All-Star break, Beltran returned and was placed in centerfield after speculation of whether he would move to right.
The Mets actually were eight games above .500 in the first half and trailed the Wild Card by only one game. Whether it was coincidence or not, the Mets were never the same after Beltran returned. They lost three-of-four to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants and went 2-9 on their West Coast trip to start the second half of their season.
Beltran didn't look mobile or effective playing center from his first game at AT&T Park and sometimes looked lost. He would misplay trajectories and run into walls while balls would carom away, looking embarrassed for a once Gold Glove-caliber centerfielder.
This offseason, Mets new manager Terry Collins has said Beltran will most likely move to right field with Pagan moving to center.
Although Beltran wasn't looking good at his natural position, he did look good at the plate over the final month of the season. In September, he hit .321 with five home runs.
The Mets will have to use all of spring training to decide what would be best for Beltran concerning his outfield position.
If he can hit consistently, play a solid defense where he's not hurting the team and get some games off to rest, he could be a big help this season. There are a lot of big "ifs" though.
Projected numbers: .280 AVG, 24 HR, 108 RBI
Right Field: Angel Pagan
In his third season with the Mets, Pagan had his best year to-date. He solidified himself as a productive ballplayer, playing good defense, showing speed and hitting for average as well.
Even after hitting .306 the previous season, there was concern as to whether or not Pagan could stay healthy. Injuries had always been a problem for him, but he finally put together an injury-free season and played in a career-high 151 games in 2010.
Maybe the most impressive thing about his season was stealing 37 bases, putting up numbers that compared very closely to those of Jose Reyes. Along with batting .290, he hit 11 home runs and drove in 69 runs. He had more than 30 doubles, seven triples and only committed five errors in the outfield—four of those coming in centerfield interestingly enough.
He played 33 games in right field and didn't commit a single error, leading you to believe that moving him away from that position may be a negative thing. In center, he always seemed uncomfortable tracking down balls, while he looked like a Gold Glover in right. With a potential move to center for Pagan this season, he will have to work hard at becoming a better all-around outfielder.
This season, some people aren't buying that he's going to be consistent at the plate. There's no reason to think that, and perhaps he can still get better.
Collins has said he will be batting Pagan second in the batting order after Reyes. If Pagan duplicates what he did in 2010 and Reyes performs like he should if he stays healthy, that one-two punch could be the best in baseball.
Projected numbers: .295 AVG, 12 HR, 75 RBI
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