Juan Lagares etched his name in franchise history Tuesday when he became only the third Mets outfielder to win a Gold Glove.
"I feel so excited and happy right now,'' said Lagares, who called the award an "honor.''
It was the culmination of a brilliant season in which Lagares established himself as a great centerfielder with a dazzling array of leaping catches and powerful throws.
"Juan is by far the best outfielder I've seen, that I've played with, that I've gotten a chance to watch,'' said Mets rightfielder Curtis Granderson, who was at the New York Public Library luncheon to honor Citi's $138,000 donation to City Harvest, United Neighborhood Houses, USO of Metro New York and YMCA of Greater New York.
Lagares, 25, became the first Mets outfielder to earn a Gold Glove since Carlos Beltran in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Centerfielder Tommie Agee won one in 1970. Lagares beat out Denard Span of the Nationals and Billy Hamilton of the Reds.
Even without blazing speed, Granderson said Lagares' ability to get strong jumps and accurate reads helped him cover large swaths of ground. But for Granderson, what set Lagares apart was his strong, accurate arm. He racked up six assists even though he rarely was challenged.
"He's got that, he's got the range, he closes the gap,'' Granderson said. "Everyone talks about how big Citi Field is, and he made it look very small out there.''
Former Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez regards former Cardinals teammate Willie McGee as the best defensive centerfielder he played with. But he offered high marks for Lagares.
"Lagares, I think, is the best centerfielder I've seen in a long, long time.''
Rawlings used defensive metrics as part of the formula to determine winners. Lagares ranked second in the National League overall to Braves rightfielder Jason Heyward and first among centerfielders.
In a statement, manager Terry Collins said: "It's to the point that I'm shocked when Juan doesn't catch every ball hit to the outfield. He makes everything look so easy. After some of his catches, I would turn to my coaching staff and say, 'How did he do that?' ''
Notes & quotes: Granderson praised the hiring of hitting coach Kevin Long while downplaying the potential impact of cozier dimensions at Citi Field. "We're still going to have to wait and see,'' Granderson said of the changes, which reduce the distance in right-centerfield. Granderson and Long worked together with the Yankees from 2010-13. "He's your No. 1 fan when it comes to trying to make the changes and adjustments,'' Granderson said . . . Righthander Jacob deGrom was named a finalist for the NL Rookie of the Year award. The winner will be announced Monday.
With Erik Boland