For the 2021 season, Amazin’ Avenue is bringing back another weekly feature that was absent during the abbreviated 2020 season: player performance meters. A quick refresher regarding what the player meters are all about: each week I will evaluate every Mets player’s performance from the previous week, assigning an up arrow for a good performance, a side arrow for average performance, a down arrow for bad performance, a fireball for exceptionally good performance, and a poop emoji for exceptionally bad performance. These posts will run every Monday—one for position players and one for pitchers—and cover the players’ performances from the previous Monday through Sunday. Starting next week, you will also be able to see how the player fared the week before compared to the current week.
These meters are meant as a quick birds-eye overview of how each player (and by extension the team) fared the previous week. There will be plenty of other coverage that features more in-depth analysis, but think of these posts as fun little snapshots. They are also subjective. While a player’s stat line for the week will be the major driving force behind their assessment, there are also other factors to consider. A player may be hitting .100 for the week, but if one of his only hits is a walk-off homer, then he is not likely to earn a poop emoji for the week, no matter how poorly he played otherwise. Similarly, a pitcher’s ERA for the week may look ugly, but if you break it down into one good appearance and one poor one that inflates the overall average, he may end up with an average grade for the week. As I think the old adage goes, the poop emoji is in the eyes of the beholder, so I also encourage the community to share their own opinions in the comments of these posts; they always make for fun and interesting discussion. Enjoy!
Of course, these posts usually deal in small sample sizes, but for this very first installment of 2021, that is even more true. Thanks to a COVID-19 outbreak on the Nationals that delayed the start to the Mets’ season and a rainout yesterday, the Mets have only played five of their nine scheduled games in 2021. The Mets are 2-3 in those five games and their offense has not been the juggernaut it should be on paper. They have posted a 93 wRC+ as a team so far in 2021, which puts them right smack in the middle at 15th in baseball, but as Jacob deGrom specifically can attest, that mark is not up to snuff for what they should be producing. However, the season is still young and there is plenty of time for these guys to kick it into gear like we know they are capable of.
Woof, that is a lot of red to sort through. But let’s start with the positives. Brandon Nimmo has come out of the gate guns a-blazing and earns a fireball for this first meter. He has done exactly what is expected of him: get on base. He sports a .565 OBP so far in 2021, which leads the team for anyone with more than ten plate appearances. He also leads Mets regulars in hits (7), walks (6), and wRC+ (223). He is also the only player other than Kevin Pillar to steal a base over the first five games of the season. He has been by far the Mets’ most valuable offensive player so far, accruing 0.4 fWAR over the first five games alone. Hopefully the mistake of not batting him leadoff in the Mets’ first game of the year will not be repeated.
Pete Alonso has also carried over his strong spring performance into the regular season so far, posting a 120 wRC+ over the first five games. While his batting average is not where he’d probably like it to be, he is second only to Nimmo on the team in hits (4) and walks (4). He leads the team in runs scored (3) and is tied for the team lead in RBIs (3). He has launched one home run so far in 2021, hopefully the first of many.
Dominic Smith has also fared well with the bat so far in this young season. He holds a .267/.250/.533 batting line in 16 plate appearances—right about what you would expect for Smith—good for a 105 wRC+. He shares the team lead with three RBIs and has matched Alonso’s hit total with four. Notably, he is the only Mets regular to not draw a walk yet this season.
The down arrow doesn’t paint the entire picture for Jeff McNeil, who has been very unlucky, hitting into a lot of hard outs so far in 2021. In fact, his BABIP for the season is literally .000, which I think takes the cake for “things that made me do a double take at the Fangraphs page.” But, it’s true. Despite making all of that hard contact (his xBA is a very Jeff McNeil .340), McNeil’s only hit in 2021 so far is a home run. But it was an important home run—a game-tying solo shot in the Mets’ home opener on Thursday. So if there is any hitter I’m not concerned about, it’s McNeil, whose poor luck certainly cannot continue to this absurd degree.
Speaking of players I’m not concerned about yet, Francisco Lindor has gotten off to a slow start, posting just a 60 wRC+ in his first 24 plate appearances as a Met. That said, like McNeil, he’s gotten a bit unlucky. His xwOBA is .336 and his wOBA is .249. Lindor has three hits so far, all singles. But what has been encouraging is that he is drawing walks. His four walks are tied for second on the team so far. So while he is hitting .176 with no power (not good), his OBP is a solid .348 and hopefully trending upward.
Before getting hit in the hand with a pitch which caused him to sit a few days before finally being placed on the injured list, J.D. Davis had one hit and a walk in five plate appearances. He also scored a run. José Peraza, who the Mets signed as a minor league free agent in the offseason, has taken Davis’ place on the roster and hasn’t appeared in a game yet.
Meanwhile, Davis’ playing time has gone to a combination of Luis Guillorme and Jonathan Villar, who have both been solid with the bat so far, especially Guillorme. Guillorme actually leads the Mets position players with a 227 wRC+ in eight plate appearances. I say position players because the overall team leader in wRC+ is Jacob deGrom, which is demonstrative of how his season has gone so far. Guillorme has collected three hits—all singles—two walks, and two runs scored. However, normally an asset on defense, Guillorme has made two miscues in the field so far. Given his body of work, hopefully those miscues are an aberration. Villar has also collected three hits so far in the five games he has appeared in, but two of those three were for extra bases. He has also scored a run.
I’ve been stalling long enough. Let’s get to the ugly. Michael Conforto looks downright lost at the plate. The Mets have struggled as a team with runners on, but no one has struggled more in that department than Conforto. Those struggles were so pronounced, in fact, that Conforto was dropped in the lineup from third to sixth for yesterday’s game, which was ultimately suspended. Conforto has gotten off to a 3-for-21 start and his eight strikeouts lead the team. In a cruel bit of irony, his only major contribution so far was the controversial game-winning hit-by-pitch on Thursday that has made him Public Enemy Number One, at least in the eyes of Marlins fans.
The leadoff hitter on Opening Day, Kevin Pillar has hit just .143 in his Mets tenure so far. He has notched only eight plate appearances in total, perhaps assuaging some worries that he would often play instead of Nimmo or Smith. Over those eight plate appearances, he has one hit, one walk, two runs scored, and a stolen base. He has also demonstrated solid play in the field, showing his utility as a defensive replacement. He made his impact felt immediately, gunning down Rhys Hoskins trying to stretch a double into a triple in the Mets’ first game. Meanwhile, Albert Almora Jr. has been serving almost exclusively as a late-inning replacement and has had just two plate appearances so far, over which he has gone hitless.
Meanwhile, the Mets have not gotten the offensive boost from the catching position they would have liked from James McCann so far, although they have already reaped the benefits of his throwing arm. With the bat, McCann has posted just a 37 wRC+ over 19 plate appearances so far. He has three hits, two walks, one RBI, and one run scored. Tomás Nido was due to have his first start behind the plate yesterday before the game was suspended. He was retired in his only plate appearance in 2021 so far.