In the Mets' victory yesterday afternoon, John Buck hit his seventh home run of the season in just his seventeenth game played. He is among the National League leaders in home runs and runs batted in, a very pleasant surprise for the Mets and Mets fans a few weeks into the season.
Buck's uncharacteristic dominance at the plate has helped dull the sting of the news that catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud broke a bone in his foot last week, but don't expect it to last forever. The Mets have been down this road with a veteran catcher before: Rod Barajas.
John Buck is a career .236/.303/.410 hitter in over 3,500 plate appearances. So far this year, he's hitting .290/.303/.661. So his on-base percentage is perfectly in line with his career norms, but his batting average and slugging percentage are not.
Now 32 years old, Buck had his best seasons at the plate in age-28 and 29 seasons, which he spent with the Royals and Blue Jays, respectively. Between those two years — 2009 and 2010 — he hit .271/.309/.487 with 28 home runs in 639 plate appearances. In the long run, it's not inconceivable that Buck could have the best year of his career this season, but it's good to keep expectations for his future production in check.
None of this makes what Buck has already done any less enjoyable or impressive. In a season that began with the Mets generally projected to finish fourth in the National League East, the team needs a few unexpected things to break right to stay above .500 and within reach of a wild card spot. Buck's dominance at the plate is definitely one of those things, even if it doesn't last forever.