Throughout the offseason, much ink has been spilled about the idea of AJ Pollock joining the Metropolitans. Alas, he is a Dodger. To that I have two words: Thank Goodness! There are many reasons why signing AJ Pollock to a long-term deal struck me as a bad idea. While it may have seemed clear to me, many felt otherwise. Here is why Mets fans should be glad.
During the first half of the 2018 season, I wrote a series of articles explaining what winning team do and why the Mets were terrible. The first part was titled The Winning Formula and the idea is that good teams win since they have lineups built around a strong core of young homegrown everyday players. The farther a team gets from this, the less likely they are to win. The Mets have a good young core heading led by Conforto, Nimmo, Rosario, McNeil and Alonso. The additions of guys like Lowrie and Ramos are short term rentals that are fillers for a couple of years. They are not the core.
The only deal that added an older player for a long period of time was the Cano trade. Cano is a topic that Mets fans spent a long time debating. I wrote extensively about my opposition to the trade, but the case is that Cano is one of the few players who will play well until close to age 40. The Mets are betting that he is an all time great. No one is making that case for Pollock. Rather, he strikes me as a guy who will decline around 30.
Had the Mets signed Pollock to the same deal the Dodgers gave him, they would have had another player over 30 who is stuck with the team for 3-5 seasons. That is a lot. Pollock is over 31 now and locking up a guy that old for around $15 million a year is a huge gamble in today’s games. By not signing Pollock, the Mets are avoiding the sin of 2018, when they built a team around old everyday players.
It also should be noted that very few teams have a very good CF who is 31 or older. After looking at data going back to 2014, I found that only 14 teams gave at least 100 starts to a center fielder who was 31 or above. The results are do not show that this is a formula for success-
The average player here had a WAR between 1.6 and 1.7 on the year, which is rather poor. When Lorenzo Cain is removed, the average drops to less than 1 for the year. In addition, none of those team were World Series teams. Most were below .500 for that matter. The point is that winning teams don’t typically have an old center fielder.
Pollock also has a long history of getting hurt. While many say that he plays hard and gets collision related injuries, that is not entirely true. In May 2017, he had a right groin strain that knocked him out of the lineup. After his all star 2015 season, Pollock hasn’t played much. Since that point, he has played just 237 games in three seasons. For a team like the Mets that has suffered many injuries since 2016, this is not the recipe we want. In addition, Pollock has been good but not great when he is on the field. For example, his OPS+ of 102 is nothing to brag about. While he has good speed, this will likely diminish soon.
When looking at the last two seasons, Pollock puts up good but not great numbers when on the field. In those two seasons, he has slashed .261/.323/.477 with 35 homers, which is fine. However, it is nothing to gloat about. His defense is good, but how much longer will he be in center?
When you put this all together, Pollock is a good but a slightly overrated player. Being that the Mets can only expect him to play center for about 1-2 seasons at best, most project that he will turn into a corner outfielder soon. In other words, he is not the solution to the Mets hole in center. Bottom line is that the Mets should not have given Pollock the deal that LA gave him.
(David Weiss is a lifelong Mets fan. He has lived in Israel since 2008 and runs the Facebook page Jewish Mets Fans.)