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The ascendant Alejandro De Aza

The outfielder is hitting .353 since July 5.

MLB: New York Mets at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When Alejandro De Aza stepped up to the plate as a pinch-hitter on July 5 against the Marlins, he was among the worst hitters in baseball. He was hitting .162, his OPS was .463, and his wRC+ was 30, meaning his offensive performance was 70 percent worse than the major league average. By contrast, Michael Conforto, for all his troubles this season, has a wRC+ of 98. Nevertheless, the Mets were “not yet” ready to release De Aza.

That night of July 5, De Aza flipped a 1-0 pitch 378 feet over the right-center field fence. He wasn’t able to salvage the game—the Mets still lost 5-2—but he seemed to salvage himself. Since that at-bat, De Aza is hitting .353/.476/.588 in 42 plate appearances, including his two-run home run in Tuesday night’s victory over the Yankees.

It’s a small sample size, but then again so was his original slump. Before that pinch-hit home run, De Aza had played nearly half a season but, as the last man on the bench, only accrued 109 plate appearances. That’s a little over a month’s worth of plate appearances, essentially an April slump for an everyday player, albeit a fairly bad one. In his first month in New York, Curtis Granderson posted a 43 OPS+ in 103 plate appearances.

De Aza’s BABIP during those first 109 plate appearances was .231, well below his career average of .328. Since then, De Aza has benefited from a .435 batting average on balls in play, but he’s still at .284 for the season may well continue improving.

For the first three months of the season, De Aza also struck out at a 30.3 percent clip, in line with some of baseball’s worst hitters. Over the past four weeks, however he has lowered that to just over one strikeout in every five at bats, almost perfectly in line with his career average.

De Aza should receive plenty of opportunities to continue reviving his season. With the injuries to Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares, De Aza is the team’s only remaining true center fielder, and with the defensively unspectacular Jay Bruce now in right, a solid glove in center will be sorely needed.