Utilityman Jeff Baker's career stats at the plate don't look all that impressive. With a .267/.321/.440 slash line and a 96 wRC+, he's been a capable hitter but would not appear to be an obvious upgrade for the Mets. But a quick look at his splits reveals that the right-handed hitter fares drastically better against left-handed pitching. His 128 wRC+ against southpaws doesn't quite make him David Wright, but it does make him a potentially valuable player when used in a platoon.
Heading into the 2014 season, the Mets have a few left-handed hitters who are expected to play regularly: Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy, and one of Ike Davis or Lucas Duda. If the team ever reaches an agreement with Stephen Drew, he'll join that list. Baker can't play shortstop, but he has played first, the corner outfield, and a little bit at second base in the big leagues.
While Granderson's troubles against left-handed pitching mostly went away over the past three seasons, Baker could occasionally fill in for him if those struggles return. If Juan Lagares falters and Chris Young takes over center field, Baker and Eric Young Jr., who himself has no real platoon splits, could share playing time to maximize Baker's bat. And, of course, whether Duda or Davis is the Mets' primary first baseman this year, the position should feature a platoon. Josh Satin's performance last year was encouraging and might have already earned him that gig, but Baker's track record against major league left-handed pitching is longer. And last but not least, Baker might be able to give Daniel Murphy a couple of of days off against lefties by filling in at second base.
Last year was undoubtedly the best of Baker's career. For his career, he's actually faced right-handed pitchers a few more times than left-handed pitchers, but the Texas Rangers took advantage of his splits, getting him twice as many plate appearances against lefties as he did against righties. It's nearly impossible to never allow a player to face same-handed pitching, but with Baker, minimizing those situations appears to be ideal. And if there are concerns that Baker's stats were inflated by the hitter's environment of the Ballpark in Arlington, he was a far more effective hitter on the road than at home last year.
So perhaps Baker would be a good fit for the Mets, a suggestion Craig Glaser made here at Amazin' Avenue back in the middle of the 2012 season.