To be perfectly precise, we are .5617284 of the way through the season, but the All-Star break has always been the half-way marker if only because we get three days to navel-gaze without new information. So we'll forget about the rest of those decimals and evaluate the first 'half.' Time to grade the hitters!
Jose Reyes: A+
Could there be any doubt? Sure, his BABIP (.375) is sky-high, but his xBABIP ain't so shabby either (.321). Reyes has re-found his better walk rate (not his best), but he is showing the lowest strikeout rate of his career (6.8%). In fact, that strikeout rate is the third-best rate in the league. He does that by whiffing on less than half the pitches of the average player. Neither his power nor his speed are at career-highs, but they are both right there. Even without the home runs his current ISO would be the third-best number of his career. Yeah, throw that plus on the end of the grade.
Ike Davis: A
This could be an incomplete, but Davis really impressed in his first 149 PAs. But cutting his whiff and strikeout rates and benefiting from a little BABIP love (.344), he upped his batting average nearly 40 points. Perhaps a natural growth in his power is the only reason that his lumber played bigger, as his ground ball per fly ball ratio is about the same. Reaching less and whiffing more is a good enough reason to give him this grade, even if the power statistics from this year are not yet reliable and the batting average is a little propped up.
Carlos Beltran: A
His excellent plate discipline never went anywhere, but the injury did sap his power. Now the Mets' All-Star has dialed back the clock to 2008, the last time he had a .200+ ISO. The highest fly ball rate he's had since 2006 is helping, of course. Set against a backdrop of failing offense around the league, Beltran without his speed looks much like Beltran with his speed. His 146 wRC+ is the third-best number of his career. Voltron: The Next Dimension?
Daniel Murphy: B+
The plus is for being useful. The plus is for filling in when the team needed him most. The plus is for cutting his strikeout rate. The B? That's for hitting too many ground balls (50.4%) and losing the power. His .125 ISO is below league average for the first time in his career. A .305/.346/.430 line would be awesome at second base or third base, but it's not clear his glove will allow him to play there. Outfield didn't work so well either. Well, the team is glad to have their Irish Hammer either way.
David Wright: B
David Wright is still hitting 19% above league average, and if you focus on the positives, the grade makes more sense. Sure he has a bad batting average and his strikeout rate looks about the same. But that .276 BABIP will change as soon as he can put some balls in play, and Wright also has cut his swinging strike rate back from his career-high last year (9.1% this year, 10.4% last year, 7.7% career). He's done this by reaching less and making better contact on balls outside the zone. His power isn't quite back to career levels, but he's known as a fairly streaky player and a good week could change everything in that department. There are some good signs in his numbers.
Angel Pagan: B-
He's hitting at exactly league average right now, but Pagan gets a boost for expected performance. As his BABIP (.263) rises to his xBABIP (.321), much of the painful drops out of his batting line. Look at the positives. He's striking out a career-best rate (9%) and walking at a career-high rate (10.2%). He's hitting line drives (22%) and making more contact than ever. Of course you'd like to see a little more power, though, hence the minus.
Justin Turner: B-
The major league average second baseman has a.254/.316/.378 line this year. Turner has a .268/.331/.364 line right now. He gets a nod above average just because of the history of the position here in New York maybe. But Turner is also another in a long line of Mets players that has cut his strikeout rate, and he's done so while maintaining his walk rate. He just won't show much more power until he gets the ball off the ground though (48.7% GB).
Jason Bay: C+
Equaling last year's home run total in almost half the PAs gets him a passing grade. Everything else keeps him from advancing. Well, he did cut his swinging strike rate and marginally improve his strikeout rate, so let's give him a plus. But the big question is his power, and there's little positive in the numbers. His career-low ISO is 'supported' by a career-low in fly balls. He's also at a career low in line drives. You could contend that 100% of all home runs are one or the other. We need some loft, Bay-be.
Ronny Paulino: C+
Other than benefiting from a ridiculous BABIP (.379), Paulino isn't doing anything he hasn't done before. He gets a plus for showing the second-best wOBA of his career against right-handers (.318). He still should only play against lefties (.380 career wOBA).
Scott Hairston: C
The Chin is in good graces after his game-winning home run in San Francisco. The fact that he's been able to recreate his career line while being moved to the bench is impressive, as is the second-best ISO of his career. This role-filler has filled his role nicely.
Josh Thole: C
If he can improve his defense, this sort of grade will work just fine while he's under team control. But his defense is not good right now, and his choke-up approach has sapped him of all power. He walks enough and avoids the strikeout enough to have offensive value, especially when compared to other catchers. .258/.350/.325 is still under-powered when you stack it up against the .242/.314/.380 the league's catchers are putting up. He's doing okay.
Lucas Duda: C-
There are, actually, things to like in Duda's line. He's now showing the ability to strike out at an average rate, as he did on the farm, and his 26.3% line drive rate is superb even in a small sample. Once he gets some loft on the ball (36.3% fly balls), his power should look better. It's not even that improbable that he could hit .250/.325/.430 if handed the every-day reigns. He just needs to lift the ball a little more. In San Francisco, he hit the ball out of triples alley in BP, about 430 feet deep. He has real power.
Hey, you say. Willie's hitting .250 and has a .350 OBP. That's not so bad. Yeah, I say. He has a .361 BABIP and is striking out in 28% of his at-bats. Will you still argue for a better grade when he's hitting .220 with a .310 OBP?
Ruben Tejada: C-
He walks and he's young, but if it was possible to have negative power, Tejada would forge that ground.
Chin-Lung Hu: F
No bat. No glove. No roster spot.
Nick Evans: Incomplete
Fernando Martinez: Incomplete