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Mets Offseason Position Player Preview: Third Base

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We don’t know what David Wright has left in him after all of the injuries, but he’s now joined by a friend at third.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at New York Mets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Despite having big money and years sunk into the position, third base is one of the biggest questions the Mets have to answer heading into 2017. David Wright’s unfortunate spinal stenosis diagnosis a year and a half ago—crappy Mets luck to the highest degree—has turned what was the team’s most stable position for the past decade into anything but that going forward. Can the Mets salvage anything out of Wright this season after two injury shortened seasons?

Season G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
2013 112 492 18 63 58 17 11.2 % 16.1 % .207 .340 .307 .390 .514 .391 156
2014 134 586 8 54 63 8 7.2 % 19.3 % .105 .325 .269 .324 .374 .308 99
2015 38 174 5 24 17 2 12.6 % 20.7 % .145 .351 .289 .379 .434 .359 132
2016 37 164 7 18 14 3 15.9 % 33.5 % .212 .320 .226 .350 .438 .344 117

Not only has Wright’s performance wildly fluctuated since his last great season in 2013, but he’s had a devil of a time staying on the field after being a beacon of durability the majority of his career. Looking at the numbers, that’s not close to the David Wright of old; his strikeouts soared to career high rates this past season as he morphed into an all-or-nothing slugger. Despite the aesthetic ugliness of the line, the 117 wRC+ shows that he can still be a useful hitter like that, even if it’s not to the degree we’re familiar with. What we don’t know is how much further his game will be compromised by his back and neck issues. This is a concern both offensively, where his bat speed already looked slow, and on defense, where we’ve already seen both his arm strength and foot speed fall off the map.

Whatever you may think of David Wright the baseball player at this point in his career, odds are that he is going to be a part of the 2017 Mets in some capacity since there is no indication at 34 years old that he’s willing to hang up the spikes just yet. Hopefully the captain will return with a vengeance from last year’s neck surgery and manage to stay on the field while putting up even just useful results. If once again the injuries catch up to him, however, the Mets finally seem to have a backup plan that does not consist of Eric Campbell and might actually be kind of good!

Jose Reyes

With Neil Walker officially back in the fold, the Mets find themselves with plenty of infield depth. This can only be a great thing, as any Mets fan who witnessed the calamity of injuries this past season can attest to. Players get hurt and in turn, bench players will get their fair share of the at bats. With that being said, the Mets will have to do as much as they can to get Jose Reyes on the field and at this point, that feels most likely to end up happening at third in tandem with his old buddy David Wright.

Season G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
2014 143 655 9 94 51 30 5.8 % 11.1 % .111 .312 .287 .328 .398 .321 104
2015 116 519 7 57 53 24 5.0 % 11.9 % .104 .301 .274 .310 .378 .300 80
2016 60 279 8 45 24 9 8.2 % 17.6 % .176 .302 .267 .326 .443 .329 108

Should David go down yet again with an injury, Reyes is likely to be the top option to replace him at third base full-time. We all know at this point what Reyes brings offensively, so the question will be whether he can turn the raw ability he showed at the hot corner this past season into a more polished package after a full spring provides him with more experience and reps at the position. In any event, Reyes looks like a quality insurance policy for Wright.

Should Wright manage to stay on the field, hopefully Reyes can get some reps around the diamond at other positions this spring to allow Terry Collins to utilize him in a Ben Zobrist-style everyday utility role. Given their lengthy injury histories, keeping both Wright and Reyes healthy and on the field for as long as possible will have to be a priority for the Mets.

Wilmer Flores & T.J. Rivera

The other options at third base aren’t bad but, at least defensively, seem like less of a great fit than Reyes. We’ve seen a good amount of Flores at third the past couple of seasons, and though his range plays a little better there than at shortstop, his lead feet make charging in towards home plate the live embodiment of a slow motion replay. Combined with scattershot throwing accuracy that seems to play down at the hot corner, Flores is probably best suited to stick to first or second base going forward, if Terry Collins can help it.

Season G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
2014 78 274 6 28 29 1 4.4 % 11.3 % .127 .265 .251 .286 .378 .291 87
2015 137 510 16 55 59 - 3.7 % 12.4 % .145 .273 .263 .295 .408 .304 94
2016 103 335 16 38 49 1 6.9 % 14.3 % .202 .268 .267 .319 .469 .336 112

Rivera played mostly at third base in Las Vegas this past season before shifting to his natural second base in the big leagues. We only saw Rivera play a total of 49 innings at the hot corner in the majors, so I can’t really pass judgment on his abilities there but from his play at second base, he’s not the rangiest defender on the field. His arm also appeared somewhat weak at times at second but admittedly, that’s purely anecdotal on my part. Should the Mets need to utilize him at third in the event of multiple injuries or a needed day off for some of the regulars, Rivera at least appears to be a capable option there.

Season Level G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
2014 A+ 61 274 4 42 47 2 5.1 % 13.5 % .111 .383 .341 .383 .452 .383 139
2014 AA 54 221 1 28 28 1 5.0 % 12.2 % .080 .399 .358 .394 .438 .373 132
2015 AA 56 234 5 37 27 1 5.1 % 9.4 % .114 .363 .341 .380 .455 .382 144
2015 AAA 54 196 2 26 21 - 3.6 % 12.8 % .137 .346 .306 .345 .443 .352 111
2016 AAA 105 442 11 67 85 3 5.2 % 12.2 % .163 .383 .353 .393 .516 .398 142
2016 Mets 33 113 3 10 16 - 2.7 % 15.0 % .143 .360 .333 .345 .476 .346 119

Eric Campbell

In case you missed the list of minor league free agents compiled by Baseball America last week...

HE GONE!!!