Mere hours after last week’s position player meter was published, the Mets fired hitting coach Chili Davis and assistant hitting coach Tom Slater. Hugh Quattlebaum was named the new hitting coach and Kevin Howard was named the new assistant hitting coach. At the time of Davis’ firing, despite the offense having experienced a bit of a reawakening the weekend before, the team was 29th in baseball in runs scored. Since Quattlebaum took over, the Mets have scored 25 runs over six games (4.17 runs per game), which is not outstanding, but puts them more in the middle of the pack rather than at the bottom of the league. Given the way the pitching staff has performed in the early going, a merely average offense is enough to win the Mets a lot of games. Overall this week (which includes one game in the Chili Davis era and six games in the Hugh Quattlebaum era), the Mets went 5-2 with the five wins coming in succession in a still-active winning streak. Over those seven games, they posted a 93 wRC+ as a team (18th in baseball). Notably, the Mets lost a couple of key position players to injury this week, but their fill-ins have performed admirably in their absence. But perhaps the most important thing that happened this week on the position player side is that Francisco Lindor finally broke out of his month-long slump.
Let’s start by discussing Francisco Lindor’s breakout week. After hovering dangerously close to poop emoji territory last week, Lindor finally looks like the player the Mets paid for (with the bat, anyway; he was already the player the Mets paid for on the defensive side). Lindor put up a .286/.407/.476 slash line over 27 plate appearances this week with a 147 wRC+. His five runs scored this week lead the team. He collected six hits, five walks, and four RBIs in total. But his big moment came toward the end of the week. Immediately after Lindor and Jeff McNeil had some sort of squabble in the tunnel that was the topic of much discussion, Lindor delivered a game-tying two-run homer in Friday night’s game that the Mets went on to win in extra innings. Although Alex Rodriguez’s repeated use of the term “signature moment” with regard to Lindor on a recent ESPN broadcast had me wanting to throw my remote control at my TV, if Lindor continues to have success this year, that moment very well may be marked as a turning point of his season—and the Mets’ season.
Within the span of several minutes last Saturday, the Mets lost both J.D. Davis and Brandon Nimmo to injury. Both players were eventually placed on the 10-day injured list this week. With Luis Guillorme still sidelined due to an oblique injury, Jonathan Villar and Kevin Pillar have been everyday players of late. Both have done exceptionally well filling in. They were a big part of what fueled the win in the nightcap of Wednesday’s doubleheader that began the Mets’ winning streak, with Pillar collecting three hits and Villar hitting a home run. In fact, Pillar leads the Mets with eight hits this week and has also made some outstanding defensive plays in center field. Overall, he holds a 117 wRC+ in 29 plate appearances for the week. Similarly, Villar posted a 113 wRC+ in the same number of plate appearances. Villar’s eight walks are tied for the team lead for the week. Both players drove in four runs this week and each of them stole a base.
The -illar brothers are not the only members of the Mets’ self-proclaimed “bench mob” that were standout performers this week. Tomás Nido was scorching hot this week at the plate in limited playing time. Nido had four hits, including a home run in the nightcap of Wednesday’s doubleheader, in ten plate appearances this week. He also walked once. He drove in three runs and scored two runs.
Meanwhile, the newly recalled third string catcher Patrick Mazeika was an unlikely hero this week. In the bottom of the tenth inning on Friday, the Diamondbacks issued an intentional walk to load the bases with one out, forcing the Mets to use Mazeika—the last man on the bench—as a pinch hitter. Mazeika dribbled a 2-2 pitch about 10 feet in front of the plate, but it was enough to score the winning run and initiate a jersey-tearing walk-off celebration. It was one of Mazeika’s two RBIs this week across three plate appearances in total. Mazeika also worked out a walk with the bases loaded in the sixth inning of yesterday’s game to plate the Mets’ third run.
In contrast to the backup catchers, James McCann has looked awful at the plate for some time now and his 28 wRC+ over 17 plate appearances earns him a poop emoji this week. He had three hits—all singles—and a walk this week. He drove in two runs and scored one. McCann has simply not hit for any semblance of power and has been a ground ball machine in the early going. While his throwing arm has been an asset, his framing numbers have not been up to snuff, as Dave Capobianco looked at in greater detail recently. With Nido hitting the way he is and being one of the most elite framers in the game, it’s hard to argue that McCann’s playing time shouldn’t suffer. The fact that the Mets have had so many days off and postponements early in the schedule has enabled McCann to catch almost every game, but as the Mets enter a stretch of the schedule with no off days, Nido should and will play more.
Although the Mets bench players that have found themselves in every day roles have stepped up big, the now primary bench players in Albert Almora Jr. and José Peraza have not done well. In fact, they have gone hitless in sixteen combined plate appearances between them this week. Peraza has one walk over that span.
Speaking of not doing well, Dominic Smith continues to look lost at the plate and it is likely only because of the Mets’ injuries and Almora’s simultaneous struggles that Smith’s playing time has not diminished significantly. Smith has four hits—all singles—and four walks in 27 plate appearances this week, good for a 58 wRC+. Despite frequently coming to the plate with men on base, Smith drove in just three runs this week. One came on a groundout in Monday’s loss. The other two came on RBI singles in Thursday and yesterday’s games that gave the Mets some breathing room in the form of insurance runs. With Kevin Pillar hitting like he is and playing excellent defense in center field, Smith’s playing time may suffer when Brandon Nimmo returns from the injured list.
Michael Conforto has been just so-so with the bat this week, posting a 90 wRC+ in 31 plate appearances. Even though he hit just .174 this week, he has done a good job working deep counts and his eight walks for the week are tied for the team lead. He has three runs scored and two RBIs this week. But he has also made some spectacular plays in right field this week, notably a leaping catch against the wall to aid Jacob deGrom in yesterday’s game and a cannon of a throw to nab Asdrubal Cabrera at second base in the ninth inning of Friday night’s game in what was a tie game at the time.
With Nimmo sidelined this week, Jeff McNeil has been frequently slotted into the leadoff spot for the Mets with somewhat mixed results. McNeil hit just .185 this week, but because he also walked five times, his on-base percentage was a respectable .313, which is still not what you want from a leadoff hitter. Of his five hits this week, one was a home run. He also drove in three runs and scored four runs. Overall, he posted an 83 wRC+ for the week. His tendency to automatically swing at the first pitch almost every time up has hurt him at times. But, like the Mets as a whole, he has played solid defense this week, miscommunications with Lindor aside.
After a down week last week, Pete Alonso is back near the top of the Mets hitting leaderboard this week. He posted a 147 wRC+ (the exact same mark as Lindor) over 30 plate appearances this week. Although he did not hit any home runs this week, he did hit two doubles. In all, he had five hits and eight walks, which indicates that he is not swinging wildly at pitches out of the zone, which he tends to do when he is off. He drove in just one run this week, but his seven runs scored lead the team by quite a wide margin. Overall, it was a positive week for Donnie Stevenson.