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Mets Player Performance Meter: Position players, May 17-23

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A quick review of how the Mets’ position players fared over the past week.

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

I have to warn you, readers: This week’s meter is not for the faint of heart. Only scroll down and read further if you are prepared for what you will encounter. We have five players on this week’s meter who were not there the week before, which is probably some sort of record. Although the “bench mob” managed to keep the Mets afloat this week with an even .500 record, winning two out of three in Atlanta and dropping two out of three in Miami, the fact remains that many (most) of these hitters are not meant to be every day players, either because they are not yet ready or because those days are behind them. The Mets have been forced to reach to the absolute bottom of the well of their position player depth and the result is not pretty, but no team is truly built to withstand the number of concurrent injuries the Mets are dealing with right now. It is a testament to how these players have stepped up in the biggest spots and how bad the rest of the NL East is that the Mets still find themselves in first place, but given the number of days the Mets are now playing in a row without an off day, that picture could change quickly if they do not get some of their regulars back soon.

We’ll start with the two additional position players that hit the injured list this week: Pete Alonso and Kevin Pillar. Alonso had been struggling mightily before being placed on the injured list with a right hand sprain, retroactive to May 19. It is likely that the pain he was dealing with was affecting his performance and he and the Mets finally decided that it’s better to have a completely healthy Alonso than an ailing one attempting to play through an injury. Prior to being placed on the injured list, Alonso had one hit and one RBI in nine plate appearances across two games.

Of all the injuries the Mets have dealt with this season, Pillar’s is the most gruesome. He was struck flush in the face with a fastball during the Braves series and suffered multiple nasal fractures that required reconstructive surgery to repair. It’s a shame for Pillar because he had been an everyday player due to Brandon Nimmo’s lingering finger injury and had been performing incredibly well. Ironically though, Pillar may very well end up to be one of the first injured Mets to return. He is due to begin light baseball activities this week. Like Alonso, he had one hit and an RBI this week before being sidelined.

Once Pillar joined Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and Albert Almora Jr. on the injured list, the Mets’ outfield situation became truly dire. This resulted in the Mets calling up Johneshwy Fargas and Khalil Lee from Triple-A, as well as acquiring Cameron Maybin from the Cubs for literally one dollar. Of these players, only Fargas has truly looked like a useful major leaguer so far in a small sample. Fargas is one of only two Mets to post a wRC+ above 100 this week. Over 21 plate appearances this week, Fargas has a 130 wRC+. His six hits are second-most on the team. His one extra-base hit this week was a key triple that added to the Mets lead in the twelfth inning of Friday night’s victory. He has also played fantastic defense in the outfield and his speed is an asset on the bases. Even once the Mets’ regulars begin to return, it is likely Fargas will stick around awhile.

By contrast, Lee and Maybin have looked overmatched at the plate since they joined the Mets. However, Lee has had one shining moment as a Met so far. He entered the twelfth inning of Friday night’s game having gone 0-for-8 with eight strikeouts as a Met, but he finally made contact and it was for a double that plated the go-ahead run in the inning. That, combined with the fact that he (like Fargas) has played fantastic defense in the outfield, helps him avoid the poop emoji for being otherwise hitless this week with a -47 wRC+ over 15 plate appearances.

Maybin had been an above average regular as recently as 2019, which is why taking a chance on him was a good bet for the Mets. But it has not panned out so far. Maybin went hitless over 17 plate appearances this week. He did walk once and steal a base, but that was not enough to dodge the dreaded poop emoji. It is possible the 34-year-old will turn it around, but the Mets should keep their eyes on the waiver wire for potential alternatives. However, one upside to all of this is that the Mets have a much speedier team with the current crop of players than they have had in the past.

The other player with a wRC+ above 100 besides Fargas this week is Tomás Nido, who is unambiguously the Mets’ best hitter right now. Nido is the only player on the Mets one could describe as “hot” and he earns a fireball this week for his 208 wRC+ in 17 plate appearances. His seven hits and four RBIs each lead the team this week. He is also the only player other than Jonathan Villar to hit a home run this week. And that home run ended up to be a game-winner in Tuesday’s victory over the Braves. In fact, Nido has been so good in every facet of the game lately (hitting, framing, and throwing) that he has taken significant playing time away from James McCann and the two are splitting the playing time more or less equally rather than McCann serving as the starter. And given the Mets’ current situation, they have no choice but to continue to do that rather than leave one of their most consistent hitters on the bench.

Speaking of James McCann, he is still struggling, but had a better week this week than in previous weeks. Overall, he posted an 89 wRC+ over 12 plate appearances. He collected two hits, two walks, two runs scored, and an RBI. Given the current Mets lineup, having a batting line that even approaches average makes him one of the better performers this week.

Continuing to be an everyday player (and leadoff hitter), Jonathan Villar has found ways to contribute, even though his overall batting line is not that great. Villar is the only Met with multiple home runs this week, which is why he has a 63 wRC+ despite batting .160 overall this week. He has also played solid defense at third base. A .192 on-base percentage is not what you want from your leadoff hitter, however, and the fact remains that he is putting up bench player numbers as an everyday player, which is not a sustainable situation. Villar scored three runs, drove in three runs, and stole a base this week.

Of the actual everyday regulars, Francisco Lindor is the only player who was in the Opening Day lineup currently still playing every day. Although it is still not where it needs to be, his production with the bat has picked up a bit. He posted an 80 wRC+ over 26 plate appearances this week with five hits (including two extra-base hits), three walks, two runs scored, an RBI, and a stolen base. His speed continues to be a factor on the base paths; him manufacturing a run essentially all by himself by tagging up on a fly ball and then advancing home on a botched throw on Friday is an example of this. He also continues to play sparkling defense at shortstop day in and day out. But with so many players injured, the spotlight (and pressure) will continue to be on Lindor to produce.

Dominic Smith is the only other everyday player besides Lindor (and McCann if you count him) who is healthy currently. But his struggles at the plate continued this week. He has not hit for power at all; he holds a .217/.308/.217 batting line over 26 plate appearances this week, good for a 50 wRC+. He has certainly taken his walks; his three walks are tied with Lindor for the team lead this week. And he has gotten some reps at first base, where his defense is still very good. Smith only has one RBI this week, but it was a crucial one—a game-tying RBI single in the eighth inning of Saturday’s game. It was a game the Mets went on to lose, but it was a clutch base hit for Smith nonetheless, who needs to be driving in runs if the Mets have any hope of staying afloat as they wait for their big bats to return.

José Peraza is another player who was forced into a near-everyday role and performed just about as well as one could hope, given expectations and circumstances. He plays strong defense at second base and gets the occasional timely hit, but his overall batting line is an unfortunate .133/.235/.267 (49 wRC+) in 17 plate appearances this week. He has scored two runs and driven in one this week. Despite all this, he is still (remarkably) the only Met with a three-run homer this season. But at this point, even the backups to the backups are being affected by injury; Peraza fouled a ball off his calf in Friday night’s game and had to exit the contest early.

Which left none other than Wilfredo Tovar playing second base in his stead. Tovar did contribute positively on Friday, by hitting a chopper on the infield in the tenth inning that he legged out for a hit, starting a rally for the Mets. That rally did not produce any runs, but it still gave the Mets a chance to take the lead. Tovar also had an RBI single in yesterday’s loss. Those were his only two hits in 9 plate appearances this week. He also walked once.

Walk-off hero Patrick Mazeika unfortunately ran out of magic this week. He went hitless (and RBI-less) in his only three plate appearances this week. However, his roster spot is likely safe, given the current situation for the Mets.

Unfortunately, because 40-man space did need to be made to accommodate all of the roster shuffling this week, Jake Hager was designated for assignment shortly after recording his first big league hit. It was his only hit for the week, but it set the table for Khalil Lee’s RBI double in the twelfth inning of Friday night’s game. It was a tough conversation Luis Rojas had to have with Hager, but if he clears waivers, he’ll likely be back with the team at some point.

When Alonso was placed on the injured list, the Mets selected the contract of Brandon Drury, who has already played multiple positions with the Mets during his short time with the big league club. His positional flexibility is an asset to the ailing Mets, but he is another player that can’t exactly be counted on for his bat. He has just one hit in seven plate appearances so far as Met. A breakout player for the Diamondbacks in 2016 and 2017, he dealt with severe migraines during his time with the Yankees in 2018 and has not been the same player since, even during his time in Toronto.