Alright, my AA brothers and sisters. Now that we have almost two weeks of fake baseball games under our belts, that can only mean one thing: there are fake awards to consider. Every year, our beloved New York Metropolitan rookies, fringe players, and dark horses unknowingly compete for the illustrious title of King of Spring Training for our amusement. Isn’t baseball grand?
Here, I will review the early KoST favorites and I will provide weekly updates on the competition. I will award each candidate KoST points as I see fit and add and drop favorites from my list as I see fit because I am drunk with Internet Power.
Let’s take a look at how the KoST field is shaping up so far, shall we?
Brandon Nimmo - .333/.423/.762
Nimmo has had an absolutely scorching start to his spring, collecting a team-leading 7 hits so far this spring in 21 at-bats. He is thriving in the leadoff spot in the batting order and somewhat surprisingly has flashed some power as well, hitting two home runs in Grapefruit League play so far. With Michael Conforto out to start the year, Nimmo should see plenty of at-bats in center field early in the season and could very well win the job outright if he continues hitting at this clip.
KoST points: 6 (5 for his stellar play and one bonus point for the highest Smiles Above Replacement on the roster)
Luis Guillorme - .353/.400/.588
Who thought that Guillorme could possibly top his highlight reel bat catch from last spring? Guillorme has always been touted for his glove, but throughout his minor league career he had been labeled a slap hitter and it has remained an open question whether his bat would play at the major league level. But he is one of a few Mets players changing his approach at the plate in an attempt to use launch angle to his advantage and it seems to have paid off so far; he is leading the team in RBIs this spring with 6. He also came into camp noticeably bulkier, but that hasn’t seemed to negatively impact his defense; he has already turned one nice double play this spring while filling in for Amed Rosario at shortstop.
KoST points: 5
Kevin Plawecki - .333/.467/.417
Speaking of launch angle, the revamped swing of Kevin Plawecki seems to be picking up right where it left off at the end of last season, when he showed signs of finally breaking out. The Mets were productive from the catching position at the end of last season with the Plawecki/d’Arnaud tandem and hopefully that can continue to result in above average production in 2018.
KoST points: 4
Gavin Cecchini - .385/.529/.923
Cecchini is another player who came into camp having packed on some muscle and he has seriously impressed with the bat this spring, leading the Mets with a jaw-dropping 1.452 OPS. He has also made mechanical changes to his swing that may be benefitting his offensive production. He has also been learning some third base to give himself some positional flexibility. The 2012 first-round draft pick certainly feels he is ready to make an impact at the big league level and he is a dark horse to make the big league team out of camp if he sustains this level of production later into spring training.
KoST points: 5
Tomas Nido - .273/.333/.636
Two catchers as KoST candidates? What am I, crazy? Well, maybe just a little. But Nido has been impressive in a small sample so far this spring, after playing very briefly for the Mets in September of last season. He is a top 10 prospect in the system and there is a lot of potential for him to build upon this season. With both Nido and Jose Lobaton having decent springs so far, the Mets should have solid depth at the catching position in 2018.
KoST points: 2
Phillip Evans - .286/.444/.857
Evans was a KoST darling last year, prompting the formation of the the Phillip Evans Appreciation Society (PEAS). It looks like he may be a contender this year too, already collecting 7 hits and 2 home runs. He has also shown—both in camp and in his brief stint with the Mets last season—that he is no slouch with the glove either.
KoST points: 3
Ty Kelly - .278/.409/.333
There’s nothing the Mets love more than reunions with old friends. Both Ty Kelly and Matt den Dekker are back in orange and blue this spring. Ty Kelly has continued to do what he does best: be selective at the plate. Along with Travis d’Arnaud, he leads the team in walks with 4. His positional flexibility and ability to switch hit make him a useful depth piece to have around.
KoST points: 2
David Thompson - .353/.450/.412
Thompson’s impressive average and on-base percentage have propelled him into the early KoST mix. He is also one of only four Mets to steal a base this spring. A strong showing in the Grapefruit League could earn him a promotion to Triple-A Las Vegas in 2018.
KoST points: 1
Patrick Biondi - .353/.389/.353
Where did this guy come from? I’m awarding him a point just for making me Google him to remind me who he is.
KoST points: 1
Chris Flexen - 5.0 IP, 1.80 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 4 Ks
It is a little bit unconventional to include a pitcher as a KoST candidate, but it is a rather unconventional spring training in general this year and Flexen has quietly put together a very nice spring so far. In fact, Noah Syndergaard is arguably the only starting pitcher that has put up better numbers than Flexen this spring. While Flexen may have had a rough go of things during his cup of coffee with the Mets last season, it was clear that he probably needed more time in the minor leagues and he should be intriguing to keep an eye on as a nice depth piece in Triple-A this year.
KoST points: 2
The race is on, folks. Let’s see who can collect the most points and win the House Cu...I mean, KoST title!