Let’s face it: We all know that this Mets’ outfield is not ideal whatsoever. If this team is going to go anywhere above 4th place in the NL East, somebody in the outfield needs to step up and be a reliable, everyday player. Many people believe that Colin Cowgill is primed for a breakout season, and I agree with these claims to a certain extent. However, if there is anyone on this Mets’ roster that can has the ability to be a reliable and consistent outfielder, it is Marlon Byrd.
Despite being 35 years of age, Marlon Byrd still has some gas left in the tank. Last year was a rough year for Byrd, as he only batted .210, but he season was limited to only 153 plate appearances due to his long suspension for a positive drug test. When I first heard the news of the Mets singing Byrd, the first thought that came to my mind was that he was a cheater, and that Mets fans should not want this man on their team. Yesterday Marlon Byrd was interviewed on WFAN and he changed my opinion on his suspension.
On the radio, Byrd explained that he was prescribed a drug for a chest condition. He checked the list of banned substances and the drug was not on there, so he thought he was safe. However, one of the ingredients within the drug was on the list, and Byrd did not realize this. He essentially called himself an idiot on live radio yesterday for not doing further research. Whether Byrd is telling the truth or if he is just a good salesman is up to you, but he sounded pretty genuine to me. Byrd sounded like a player who would be more of a positive than a detriment in the clubhouse, especially a clubhouse loaded with young players.
Anyway, back to Marlon’s on field production. From 2008 to 2011, Byrd batted at least .276, had an on base percentage of at least .324, and hit at least 9 home runs. These may not sound like the greatest numbers, but they are all the absolute minimums he has produced. And in the situation the Mets are in right now, beggars can’t be choosers. I do not think that Byrd’s last season should be taken too seriously, as 153 plate appearances is a very small sample size. Remember how poor Ike Davis’ first 150 at bats were? Look how his second half turned out.
Byrd has also been a decent fielder throughout his career as well. He can play an average center field, but he is expected to open up the 2013 season in right field. I expect him to be at minimum an average defender if not more. It would not surprise me if Byrd ends up playing all 3 outfield positions at one point or another this season.
This spring has been phenomenal for Byrd. I understand that spring stats do not directly correlate to regular season success, but they certainly can not hurt. Also, Byrd player in the Mexican league over the winter, so it is almost like he has had two springs to prepare for the season. Over this spring, Byrd has batted .352 with an on base plus slugging over .900. If he can pan out to be a solid 5th or 6th hitter for this team, it would go a long way in providing depth in the everyday lineup.
Overall, I do not see a reason why Byrd can’t hit .275 with a solid on base percentage and some power scattered in. Is there a chance he flops completely like Gary Matthews Jr.? Sure. But at the same time, I do not see why it unreasonable to think that Byrd can return to being an everyday contributor.
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