It was a truly ugly week for the Mets offense, only lifted out of the absolute depths of futility by this weekend’s games. As the month of April came to a close, the Mets had lost three straight games and scored a combined two runs in all three games. Even more frustrating still, their opponents scored just four runs across the three games. All of the games were within reach, yet the Mets’ absolute inability to hit with runners in scoring position continued unabated.
Enter Donnie Stevenson after Saturday’s thrilling win—the mysterious “new hire”/inside joke/made up persona/euphemism for something else. We may never know who or what Donnie Stevenson is (and frankly I think the gag is funnier if we never find out), but whoever or whatever he is, he needs to keep doing what he’s doing because the Mets bats woke up from their deep slumber over the weekend. Here’s hoping they don’t fall asleep again.
The best news of the week on the position player front is that Michael Conforto has absolutely and fully broken out now. He had three RBIs in Saturday’s win, including a clutch go-ahead home run that proved to be the difference in the game. He notched another three hits and two RBIs in yesterday’s game. His five RBIs and seven hits in total lead the team and his 210 wRC+ leads the team among players with ten plate appearances or more for the week.
A close second in hits for the week is six for Jeff McNeil, who also finally began to show signs of life this week. Between his 186 wRC+ over 20 plate appearances this week and his strong play in the field, he and Conforto share team lead in fWAR among position players with 0.3. McNeil has begun to hit for power as well. Two of his six hits went for extra bases, including a home run. He also leads the team in runs scored this week with four and walked twice. A .353 batting average for the week is much closer to what we’re used to seeing from him than hovering below the Mendoza line.
J.D. Davis was just about the only Met hitting consistently before he sprained his hand on a swing in Satruday’s game. Davis has not yet been put on the injured list and may not ultimately require a stint there, but it’s already the second injury he’s sustained in this young season. The biggest ding on Davis has been his defensive liabilities in the field, which have shown themselves in a big way so far this season. But he has made up for it with the bat, posting a 143 wRC+ in 15 plate appearances this week. He collected four hits, walked twice, and drove in a run this week.
With Davis ailing and Luis Guillorme on the injured list with an oblique strain, Jonathan Villar has seen a lot of playing time and will continue to do so until one or both of Davis and Guillorme return to action. Until yesterday’s game, Villar had gone hitless for the week, but he came up huge in multiple ways, making up for a key strikeout in which he swung at three pitches out of the zone. Villar was right in the middle of the Mets’ six-run rally in the eighth yesterday. With the Mets within a run, Villar singled and then went to third base on another single, but the “caballo loco” noticed that the Phillies were slow to get the ball in and not paying him any mind and took off for home, scoring the tying run for the Mets. He still holds a 42 wRC+ for the week, but definitely deserves points for his heads-up baserunning that netted the Mets a gift run that they desperately needed.
We also cannot forget that it was the base hit off the bat of the Mets’ newest callup José Peraza that sent Villar to third base in the first place. It was a ball that perhaps Rhys Hoskins should have handled (and would have been an inning-ending double play if he had), but it was a rocket that found its way past Hoskins and kept the rally going for the Mets. That was Peraza’s only plate appearance for the week, but it was a crucial one.
It was Kevin Pillar that ultimately started last night’s big rally with a solo homer that brought the Mets within a run. It was a huge night for Pillar on the whole, who collected three hits in the game. Pillar had been looking awful at the plate prior to yesterday’s game and had just one hit for the week heading into last night. But he ultimately finished the week with a .444/.444/.778 batting line in nine at-bats.
Now would be a good time for Pillar’s bat to wake up, considering the fact that like Davis, Brandon Nimmo is also ailing. In addition to the sore hip he’s been dealing with, which was treated with a cortisone shot, he bruised his finger on a swing in Saturday’s game. For right now, he is not on the injured list and is considered day-to-day. Even before Saturday, Nimmo’s bat cooled off considerably this week. He had just one hit and two walks in 14 plate appearances this week.
It seems that Luis Rojas is favoring Pillar to get most of the playing time in Nimmo’s absence over Albert Almora Jr., who did not reach base in his two plate appearances this week. But he will still likely continue to see action as a late-inning defensive replacement and pinch runner.
Despite the bases-clearing double last night that gave the Mets the cushion they needed to (barely) hang on for the win last night, Pete Alonso’s numbers this week are not good overall. Like the whole team, his bat did not ignite this week until the weekend; he collected two hits, an RBI, and a run scored in Saturday’s game in addition to his heroics yesterday. But that was about all for his production for the week and even given his performance this weekend, he holds a 59 wRC+ over 21 plate appearances for the week.
Incidentally, that is the exact same mark as Dominic Smith over the same number of plate appearances. And much like the rest of the team, Smith had four hits in total over the weekend and just one the entire week before that. But because Smith’s struggles with the bat have dropped him in the batting order, those hits did not result in the run production Alonso’s did. Smith drove in one run and scored one run this week. Neither Smith or Alonso are walking much; neither of them drew a walk this week.
But who has been drawing walks despite his continued struggles at the plate is Francisco Lindor, who has yet to join the rest of the Mets aboard the Donnie Stevenson train. Yesterday Lindor’s frustration was truly palpable for the first time. Prior to yesterday, he was still exuding confidence, saying he was seeing the ball well and knowing that the hits would come. But yesterday for the first time, you could see the sagging shoulders after his at-bats. Whether that is because he knew this was happening on Sunday Night Baseball or because he has simply approached his breaking point is unclear. But the fact remains that Lindor had a miserable April and last week’s numbers—just one hit in 23 plate appearances—are in poop emoji territory. But, to me, there are two things that bailed him out of that unfortunate distinction: 1.) Even if no one will likely remember it, he was a key part of yesterday’s rally. He worked out a walk against Jose Alvarado to load the bases ahead of Conforto, who also walked to force in the the go-ahead run prior to Alonso’s double. And it was a good at-bat. 2.) His defense in the field continues to be a pleasure to watch, day in and day out. There are plenty of Mets who have had bad starts in the past, including Mike Piazza, Curtis Granderson, and Carlos Beltrán, who went on to have fantastic bodies of work in New York. I have faith that Lindor will figure it out. But one cannot ignore the ugliness of his April batting line and if it continues, I may not be able to avoid laying the poop emoji on him in the future.
Due to the days off in the schedule this week, James McCann caught every game and Tomás Nido did not have a single plate appearance. But McCann has been another player who has struggled mightily at the plate and could see Nido cutting into his playing time more and more if he does not improve. In addition to batting .167 with a 14 wRC+ for the week, McCann’s passed ball on a strikeout in Friday’s game on which two runs scored ended up being the difference in the game. Given how badly McCann missed, it was clearly a cross-up and it is unclear how much of the blame for that lies with Marcus Stroman. Nonetheless, it was a costly miscue for the Mets and one that would be less costly in the future if the team can continue to hit a little bit, including McCann.