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Thursday, January 30, 2014
TC: EY Jr. is primary leadoff candidate

By Adam Rubin

Terry Collins told ESPNNewYork.com that Eric Young Jr. is his primary leadoff candidate at this point.

Still, with a full spring training to go, Collins cautioned: "But anything is possible."

The interesting wrinkle would be: How does Collins get Young in the lineup?

The easiest route and seemingly most likely route is at the expense of Juan Lagares, even though Lagares demonstrated Gold Glove-caliber fielding last season.

Perhaps the switch-hitting EY Jr. also eventually could chip away at Chris Young's playing time against right-handed pitching, since the ex-Diamondback/Athletic is a career .225 hitter against right-handers (versus .262 against southpaws). Maybe EY Jr. could get an occasional start at second base, too, although it would be difficult not using Daniel Murphy for any considerable number of games.

Of course, EY Jr. is going to need to boost his on-base percentage to stay in the leadoff role for long. He had a .310 overall on-base percentage last season with the Colorado Rockies and Mets.

The Mets ranked 14th in the 15-team NL last season with a .293 team on-base percentage from the leadoff spot, better than only the Miami Marlins (.282). The National League average for OBP from the leadoff spot was .333 in 2014.

The Mets started 10 players in the leadoff spot last season -- the most by the team in a season since 2003. They were Young (90 games), Jordany Valdespin (16), Ruben Tejada (15), Collin Cowgill (nine), Mike Baxter (eight), Murphy (seven), Omar Quintanilla (seven), Lagares (six), Justin Turner (three) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (one).