The Mets’ offense through the first week of the season has been inconsistent, to put it mildly. On any given night, the Mets have gotten big contributions from one or two players, but not much else from the rest of the lineup. Nothing highlights this disparity more than the performances of Jay Bruce and Jose Reyes, who, by fWAR, have been the best and worst position players in baseball, respectively.
After a rough 2016 season with the Mets, Bruce has been the lone bright spot in their lineup so far this year. In 29 plate appearances, the right fielder is raking to a .304/.448/.870 batting line (234 wRC+), with four home runs, six RBIs, eight runs scored, and 0.6 fWAR.
The reasons for Bruce’s success are pretty clear: His 24.6% swing rate on pitches outside of the zone is the lowest of his career, while his 91.7% contact rate on pitches in the zone is a career high. In other words, Bruce is laying off balls, waiting for strikes, and hitting the strikes that are thrown his way. Furthermore, the balls that he’s put in play have followed a very noticeable trend: 60.0% have been in the air, 55.0% have been pulled, and 33.3% of the balls he’s put in the air have left the park. Those are all career highs.
Reyes, by contrast, has looked completely lost at the plate. The infielder has just one hit and one walk in 28 plate appearances, yielding a putrid .037/.071/.037 line (-68 wRC+) and -0.5 fWAR. Unsurprisingly, Reyes’s peripherals have been the polar opposite of Bruce’s: Reyes is swinging at pitches out of the zone at a higher rate (46.9%) and is making contact on pitches in the zone at a lower rate (75.0%) than he ever has in his career.
Obviously, it’s hard to read too much into seven games’ worth of offensive performance. Both players will almost certainly regress toward their career norms, with Bruce coming back down to earth and Reyes getting more comfortable at the plate.
That said, the Mets hope that Bruce will continue to be a productive hitter and a key part of this team’s offense. As for Reyes, the Mets will need significantly more production from him, or they may have to consider moving him into the platoon role that was initially intended for him at the start of the year.