The New York Mets have a little problem with their batting order. They don’t have a leadoff hitter. The Mets used to have All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes–who won the National League batting title in 2011. But ever since he left to Miami, the Mets have not found a suitable replacement.
Fast forward a year later and Michael Bourn, an available free agent, was being looked at by the Mets. The speedy two time All-Star was supposed fix the gaping hole atop the Mets’ order, but he chose to sign with the Cleveland Indians instead.
So what do the Mets do now?
Mets manager Terry Collins has to spend the spring evaluating in-house talent, but none are ideal fits. At least not yet. In 2012, eight different leadoff hitters managed to post a .323 on-base percentage. Collins needs to find a player with on-base upside and prototypical speed.
One player that comes to mind that may have the combination of both is shortstop Ruben Tejada. Last season, the 23-year-old finished second among the Mets in on-base percentage with .333. Out of Tejada’s 110 starts, 78 of them were as the Mets’ first batter–he fared well with a .334 on-base percentage. Tejada is the better choice, but that’s not really saying much.
Mets’ other choices are Mike Baxter, who had a horrendous .234 on-base percentage. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, hampered by some injuries, has played nicely and has shown his potential. Nieuwenhuis was the leadoff in 29 out of his 69 starts, posting a .303 on-base percentage.
These numbers don’t exactly jump off the page.
The Mets’ leadoff situation is not looking pretty, but they have to make due with what they have. Not acquiring Michael Bourn put a dent in their plans, so let’s hope that they can find someone that can do a decent job and somewhat fill Jose Reyes’ shoes. No easy task.