Countdown to Opening Day: 8
March 24th, 2011 by slangon

8 days to go.

Starting in center field for the ’86 squad, position #8 on your scorecard, was The Dude.

Although he was still splitting time with Mookie Wilson in center, Nails played the lions share of games at that position in 1986, and did so admirably, posting only 3 errors for a .990 fielding percentage. He also had a very nice year at the plate. He mostly batted leadoff, although he did have at least one at bat in every other position except 4th and 7th. He notched a .295 average with .377 on-base and .445 slugging. He scored 77 runs and drove in an additional 45. He also stole 31 bases and hit 8 homers. He was also a key part of the Mets postseason success, batting an even .300 in the NLCS and World Series combined, driving in 3 runs in each series. For what it’s worth, he ended up 19th in MVP voting that year. Not bad for his second year, and first full one in the league.

Those are some pretty big shoes to fill, but I feel like Crazy Horse can handle it.

Last year was Pagan’s first year with the Mets where he was actually heathy all season, and to me, was one of the very few bright spots in an otherwise dismal year. He spent time at all 3 outfield spots, committing 5 errors for a combined .987 fielding percentage. I’d heard people say that if he had played the entire year at one position, he might be a legit candidate for a Gold Glove, and having seen him play, I can’t say I disagree. He hit .290 with 11 taters to go with 69 rib eye steaks, and that was mostly out of the 1st or 2nd spot in the order. I know it’s hard to define “clutch”, but I really do feel like he was one the Mets best clutch hitters last year as well. He hit. 339 with runners in scoring position, and a very impressive .407 with a runner on 3rd and 2 outs.

I think this is going to be a big year for Pagan, especially now that Beltran has made everyone’s life easier by graciously stepping aside and letting Pagan take full charge of center. I really like Beltran as a player and loved watching him patrol center for all those years, but at this point I do think that Pagan is certainly the better defensive outfielder, so I’m glad that Carlos handled the situation in the least drama filled way. God knows the Mets have enough drama going on.

This is a tough one to call, but I think I might give a slight advantage to 2011.

RF – 1986
CF – 2011
LF – ????
SS – ????
3B – ????
2B – ????
1B – ????
C – ????
P – ????

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