So here's the thing about spring training: writers have to have it too. Like, for instance, when there's a World Baseball Classic and the writer completely forgets about that thing? Yeah, oops. But it's okay, our favorites for the 2017 King of Spring Training were only slightly ravaged. No biggie. The plan for this update is to run down how the favorites from a few weeks ago are faring and then we'll pick out five contenders from "the field" who are having hot springs. Then in our next update a week from today, we'll swap out some of the struggling former favorites for hot hitting players from the field.
Makes sense? Good, because it doesn't really matter. It's spring training, this isn't a real award, and we're all going to die someday. Eat Arby's. Here are your 2017 King of Spring Training contenders:
Travis Taijeron – .368/.455/.474 (Stock: HOLDING)
The reigning King of Spring Training is off to fine start as he looks to become the first ever back-to-back KOST champion. At 19 at bats thus far this spring, Taijeron is getting his opportunities despite a crowded outfield and that bodes well for his chances to add to his totals. We've seen some of Taijeron's awful play in right field early on this spring but luckily defense plays no role in the KOST crown. He'll likely have to hit a little more to fend off some of the field, though.
Matt Reynolds – .188/.409/.250 (Stock: FALLING)
With a number of infielders away for the World Baseball Classic, Reynolds has a considerable advantage but has thus far squandered his KOST chances. The on base percentage is very nice thanks to 5 walks but it comes with nothing else. That's not going to win any awards. Reynolds is in danger of dropping off of our next update.
Ty Kelly – .167/.500/.167 (Stock: FALLING)
Sadly, Kelly is away from the club for the World Baseball Classic after just 6 at bats. Similarly to Reynolds, he flashed the on base ability with 4 walks and nothing else. Kelly will not be a part of the next KOST update unless Team Israel gets knocked out real soon.
T.J. Rivera – .304/.280/.565 (Stock: HOLDING)
Like Kelly, TJ Rivera is also off at the World Baseball Classic playing with Puerto Rico. Unlike Kelly, however, Rivera saw 23 at bats before he left and made the most of them, putting up a somewhat awkward yet somewhat expected higher batting average than on base percentage. That hurts his candidacy a tad, as we prefer multi-category performers, but the power and average combo is enough to keep him here for now.
Rene Rivera .400/.500/.400 (Stock: HOLDING)
Rene is also playing with Puerto Rico in the WBC but serving as our absolutely necessary shitty catcher nomination, he had himself a perfectly useful 10 at bats. Ultimately that lack of at bats will likely work against him for the KOST award but the gaudy line keeps him in the conversation at least for the moment.
Michael Conforto – .360/.385/.640 (Stock: RISING)
The Mets' "right fielder of the hopefully sometime in the relatively near future" has come out guns a-blazing after a rough season with an impressive spring so far. Leading the team with 25 at bats, Conforto has a pair of dingers, a double, and a walk, and he's getting plenty of opportunities. Save for an enormous slump, Conforto should see himself vault into the favorite category in our next update.
Phil Evans – .368/.368/.737 (Stock: RISING)
We picked out this young infielder as one of our KOST sleepers a few weeks back on a hunch, so we're absolutely going to gloat about getting this one right. Evans has been impressive on both sides of the ball, though only one of those matters in this case, and he's had 19 at bats with a number of infielders out of camp. Despite a big zero in the walk category, Evans's slugging percentage may carry him up into the favorite category.
Travis d'Arnaud – .455/.478/.818 (Stock: RISING)
A veteran Mets "starting" catcher would typically not be considered a contender for the KOST but the case of d'Arnaud, coming off a terrible season and having as great a spring as he's having, we're going to give him a shot. Through 22 at bats, the offseason tweaks he made have paid spring dividends and if he keeps going at this rate, he'll be a KOST favorite. Let's just hope he doesn't get hurt.
Luis Guillorme – .273/.333/.500 (Stock: HOLDING)
It's been the spring of Luis Guillorme so far. Frankly, Guillorme could be at the bottom of this list solely for the nutso catch of a flying bat he made last week in the Mets dugout. But Guillorme has also flashed some ability at the plate, even crushing a rare home run and an opposite field one at that! Will it continue? For a guy who struggled at the plate in A-ball, it might not but at least he's getting at bats. That's the beauty of spring training, fake games, and randomness!
Gavin Cecchini – .500/.563/.857 (Stock: HOLDING)
Finally, there's Gavin Cecchini who is also away at the World Baseball Classic playing with Team Italy. In 14 at bats, Cecchini got off to a scorching start in Mets camp and he still has an outside shot to win the KOST crown should Italy get eliminated quickly. If you wanted to, you could also put Cecchini's Team Italy teammate Brandon Nimmo in this spot. In a few more at bats, Nimmo's hit an impressive .476/.500/.524 this spring. But we didn't. We went with Cecchini. Deal with it.