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Mets Player Performance Meter: Position players, March 29-April 8

A quick review of how the Mets’ position players fared over the first week and a half of the season.

MLB: New York Mets at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets are obviously a team that lives and dies with the health and effectiveness of their pitching staff, but the offense, too, has been surprisingly strong over the first eight games of the season, which is probably why the Mets find themselves as one of only two one-loss teams remaining in baseball. The Mets offense has a 116 wRC+, which is seventh in baseball. The most encouraging part about the offensive performance so far is that the big hits seem to be sprinkled (a la salt and pepper) up and down the lineup, with almost everyone contributing.

The players who have struggled the most with the bat have been the ones that have seen the fewest at-bats, which is perhaps a good thing, since the impact is minimized. However, among all the things the be optimistic about this season, it does spark some concern about the depth of the bench, which was supposed to be a strength going into the season.

By far the worst performer on the Mets offensively has been Jose Reyes, who has a pretty staggering -61 wRC+ over 10 plate appearances to start the season. He has also been shoddy in the field and on the basepaths with some costly mistakes. Part of this may be an adjustment to a part-time role. However, despite Amed Rosario’s struggles, right now it’s difficult to make an argument for more playing time for Reyes.

Similarly, Wilmer Flores has failed to hit himself into more playing time so far this season, posting a poor 9 wRC+ over his first 13 plate appearances. He has managed just a single and two walks with one run scored.

Phillip Evans’ time on the Mets was both fleeting and forgettable. He failed to reach base in his three opportunities, striking out once. He was sent down to Las Vegas to make room for Michael Conforto on the roster.

One bench player that is certainly not struggling at the plate is Brandon Nimmo, who saw regular playing time until Michael Conforto’s return on Thursday. He leads the team with a blistering 236 wRC+. He’s running a bit of a high BABIP at .429, which may be contributing somewhat to his early success. However, predictably, Nimmo’s walk rate is the highest on the team at 28.6%, compared to a 7.1% strikeout rate, which amounts to a .643 on-base percentage. Nimmo’s undeniable skills as a leadoff hitter demand more playing time.

It’s been hard to find a spot for Nimmo, however, with nearly all of the Mets every day players performing so well at the plate so far this season. Jay Bruce struggled out of the gate, but has rocketed back up to a 129 wRC+, mostly thanks to the grand slam he hit on Thursday’s win against the Nationals.

Speaking of grand slams, Adrian Gonzalez’s first home run as a Met was a spectacular one to be sure. His grand slam in last night’s game helped propel the Mets to their series sweep of the Nationals. Prior to last night, Gonzalez had been getting on base at a relatively consistent clip, but had yet to show the power he has shown throughout his impressive career. He has a 131 wRC+ so far as a Met and if he can even keep up something close to that, it is a huge boost to the team. And it certainly staves off Gonzalez being benched in favor of Jay Bruce shifting to first base.

It is hard to find arguments to bench either Yoenis Cespedes or Michael Conforto at this stage either to make time for Nimmo. Cespedes is the only Met so far with more than one home run; his three home runs and eight RBIs both lead the team. The only somewhat concerning sign has been his elevated strikeout rate at 36.8%, which is keeping his batting average down. Cespedes has alluded to his timing being a bit off at the plate and it is also rumored that he has been struggling with some flu-like symptoms, which may be holding him back a bit. But, his prodigious power remains.

Michael Conforto seems to have picked up right where he left off prior to his shoulder injury last season, belting a two-run homer against Stephen Strasburg in his return from the disabled list on Thursday. He has also looked pretty good in center field in the early going, making an excellent sliding grab in last night’s game to rob Ryan Zimmerman of a hit in the eighth inning.

Another player who has been on absolute fire with the bat early this season has been Asdrubal Cabrera, who has scored six runs so far this season, tied with Yoenis Cespedes for the team lead. He also leads the team in hits with 11 and total bases with 17. He has been an extremely productive hitter in the top part of the order so far this season, setting the table for Cespedes and Conforto.

Todd Frazier has put up a respectable 108 wRC+ in his first eight games as a Met, which is exactly what he produced over a full season last year. He has six hits, including three doubles, with five RBIs. He has also provided solid defense at third base, last night’s lapses notwithstanding. He has yet to hit a home run for the Mets, but there’s no reason to believe the power won’t come.

Amed Rosario is certainly contributing to the offense. He had driven in five runs so far on six hits, including one triple—something Mets fans are hoping to see plenty more of from him this season. However, he is striking out at an alarming rate. His 40% strikeout rate is certainly not sustainable and he needs to bring that down in order to continue to build success.

The Mets’ catching tandem of Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki have been productive so far this season. The Mets have generated a 116 wRC+ from the catching position, which ranks seventh in baseball. So far Plawecki has had the lion’s share of the success, however. Plawecki has a 148 wRC+ in his 17 plate appearances, while d’Arnaud has an 83 wRC+ in his 16 plate appearances.

Speaking of launch angle, Juan Lagares has quietly elevated himself to a 188 wRC+ in 15 plate appearances this season. On the surface, this seems good. However, all seven of his hits have been singles; the adjustments he has made to his swing do not seem to be translating to more power. His .538 BABIP also leads Mets hitters—a red flag to be wary of moving forward.