PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets need Eric Young Jr. to raise his on-base percentage to be a viable leadoff hitter. And Terry Collins thinks that can be achieved if Young bunts more.
Collins explained that since EY Jr. is not a home-run threat, it's not really practical to expect him to walk a ton more to lift his OBP. That's because pitchers are going to be challenging him, unafraid of the ball being hammered over the wall, and reluctant to walk him and put the reigning NL steals champion on base.
New York Mets
Young had a .310 on-base percentage last season between the Mets and Colorado Rockies. He had six bunt hits last season.
Young, though, actually is not wildly out of line with other NL steal threats in terms of bunt hits. Jean Segura, who finished as the league's runner-up with 44 steals, had seven bunt hits. Starling Marte and Carlos Gomez, the others with 40-plus steals in the league, had 10 and six, respectively.
"Ideally, gosh, you'd wish he'd have a .350 on-base," Collins said about Young. "I don't know if he's going to, but you hope he does. All I know is what an impact this guy made on our team when we got him. He got some big hits, made some great plays defensively in the outfield. And when he got on, exciting things happened and we scored runs. So we're certainly going to focus a lot on trying to get Eric to bunt a little bit more, maybe be a little more selective at the plate.
"It's easy to talk about bases on balls. Let me tell you something: When you're not a home-run hitter, you don't walk much, because people don't pitch around you. People come right after you."