After the 2020 season ended, the Mets’ infield could be looked upon as one of the biggest disappointments of an overall frustrating season. Pete Alonso had a down year compared to his rookie campaign, J.D. Davis had a streaky season, Jeff McNeil moved to the outfield, Amed Rosario looked bad and lost his playing time to Andrés Giménez, and Robinson Canó was good but injured. Fast forward to 2021 and not only is there renewed optimism for the infield, but palpable excitement for their newest quartet to man the infield.
This is not the 1999 infield, which was among the best to ever play the game, but offensively this 2021 crew has the potential to be special. Pete Alonso regrouped in the offseason and looked absolutely ridiculous during camp. He was regularly smoking the ball, and while he didn’t hit a home run in spring training last year, he didn’t have that issue this year. Alonso held an OPS over 1.000 and generally seemed locked in at the plate.
Davis also regrouped and worked out with Chili Davis, who he said he missed having around in 2020, over the offseason. Even in a down year, he still had a 116 wRC+ last season, which was down from an amazing 136 wRC+ in 2019, but he has shown he can still be a very good player even when he is struggling. He’s been working hard on his fielding now that he is going to be the Mets’ everyday third baseman, and only time will tell if he can finally turn around his poor defensive metrics at the position.
Those two are the only holdovers from 2020. It came as a bit of a shock when Canó was suspended yet again for PEDs, but luckily for the Mets they have McNeil, who can move back to his natural position of second base. McNeil tends to get overlooked since he doesn’t have the same offensive explosiveness as Alonso, but his consistent, reliable bat can really help drive the team’s offense. He, too, had a bit of an uneven season, but you would never know it by looking at his numbers from last year. In total, he hit .311/.383/.454 despite being hampered somewhat by a knee injury that he sustained while crashing into a wall to make a catch in August.
Those three were key contributors in 2019 when the Mets went on their run in the second half. Having them reach their full potential alone would be cause for optimism heading into 2021. Obviously, however, the addition of a superstar brings the excitement to a whole other level. The trade for Francisco Lindor was the type of move this organization hasn’t made for quite some time. To say he is an upgrade over both Rosario and Giménez is a massive understatement. Lindor is one of the best shortstops in the game and takes the Mets from a good team with upside to legitimate contenders. One could make the argument that he was the best player moved this entire offseason. He has earned the praise of manager Luis Rojas about his leadership qualities, and Davis has discussed how Lindor has helped him work on his defense at third. The ripple effects of this trade go beyond his on-field performance, and he is the type of player a team should build around for years to come.
The four starters will get all the attention, but the Mets’ have solid depth in their infield. Dominic Smith had a breakout season last year, and while he will see a lot of time in left to get his bat into the lineup, he is still the Mets’ backup first baseman and will see some action there as well. Luis Guillorme and his elite glove can play multiple positions in the infield, and he has recently begun to hit a little bit. Jonathan Villar is their other option who offers major league quality depth and has had some productive seasons in his career.
Defensively, the infield could still use some improvement, but between their awesome foursome and their quality backups, there are very few holes where the infield is concerned. All that’s left is to sit back and enjoy the show.