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Mets Player Performance Meter: Position players, May 24-30

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

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Despite an ever-growing list of injuries and setbacks to already injured players, the ragtag Mets have continued to find ways to win. The rain once again messed with the Mets’ schedule this week, reducing the number of games played to five from the seven that were scheduled. The Mets went 4-1 over those five games, taking three of four games from the Rockies after dropping the series opener on Monday, including a doubleheader sweep on Thursday and executing a “mini-sweep” of the Braves on Saturday with their most decisive victory of the season. That laugher on Saturday propelled the Mets to a 126 wRC+ as a team over the past week, which is tied for the second-best mark in baseball. Especially notable is the breakout in the power department from the Mets. As has been the theme all season, the Mets’ victories included contributions from unlikely sources.

We’ll start with the new face on this meter. On Tuesday, in what was truly an “emergency mode” move, the Mets traded for 26-year-old Brewers outfielder Billy McKinney. They had very little choice but to make a move like this, given the fact that Johneshwy Fargas (who had been performing so well as a fill-in) sprained his AC joint by slamming into the outfield wall and was placed on the (very crowded) injured list. That, combined with the fact that Cameron Maybin and Khalil Lee—who combined for one hit in a total of 19 plate appearances between them this week—continued to be pretty much automatic outs, created a dire outfield situation for the Mets that McKinney was meant to help remedy. The bar is low, to be fair, but McKinney has far exceeded it so far. Over his first ten plate appearances as a Met, McKinney logged two hits, including a home run in Saturday’s rout of the Braves, drove in three runs, and scored three runs. Although McKinney is likely far from a long-term solution for the Mets, he has already shown himself to be a significant upgrade over what they had.

It is worth noting that Maybin did snap his historic hitless drought in Saturday’s game with a dribbler up the third base line that stayed fair. He also walked twice and scored two runs this week. Meanwhile, Lee also scored a run this week. But now that players are beginning to return from the injured list for the Mets, both players have found themselves off the roster. (Note that this meter does not include yesterday’s game, which will be reflected in next week’s meter.)

Brandon Drury has thrived this week at the plate, with his ability to play multiple positions being a huge asset to the ailing Mets. In nine plate appearances this week, Drury had three hits, including two home runs—one in Tuesday’s 3-1 victory and one in Saturday’s laugher. His four RBIs for the week are tied for the team lead with two players who had far more plate appearances than he did. A player who had a promising career set back by a long battle with migraine headaches, it would be a great story for Drury to find a second life with the Mets.

The two other players with four runs driven in this week are the Mets’ catching tandem: James McCann and Tomás Nido. With Nido heading into the week scorching hot with the bat and the Mets desperate to pack as many major league caliber bats into the lineup as they could, McCann was forced into service as a first baseman this week—a position he had not played at the major league level. Not only did he handle the position better than anyone could have possibly expected, his bat finally came alive this week in a big way. Other than Drury, he is the only Met with multiple home runs this week. One of them came in Monday’s loss and the other came in Saturday’s big win. Saturday was a huge day for McCann all around; he went 4-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs scored. Overall, he posted a 235 wRC+ over 19 plate appearances this week, which earns him a much-deserved fireball. Hopefully it’s the beginning of breakout for McCann, who had struggled so mightily early in the season.

Meanwhile, Nido’s bat has cooled off a bit, but he still contributed this week. His two-run homer was the decider in Tuesday’s victory, snapping a sixth-inning tie in support of Jacob deGrom in his return from the injured list. He also had a two-RBI day on Saturday, contributing to the full team offensive explosion. But those two hits represent essentially his only production for the week. He had three hits in all over 14 plate appearances this week, good for a 77 wRC+. However, given his skills defensively behind the plate, Nido does not need to be hitting far above his head to help the team win. With Pete Alonso back at first base every day, it’s likely that Nido and McCann will continue to share time behind the plate more or less equally, with Luis Rojas riding the hot hand whenever he can.

The Mets were able to play McCann at first base in Alonso’s absence because of the presence of walk-off specialist and third string catcher Patrick Mazeika on the roster. Mazeika did have two hits in five plate appearances this week, but with players (particularly Alonso) returning from the injured list, carrying three catchers was something the Mets could no longer afford to do and Mazeika was optioned to Triple-A yesterday.

Jonathan Villar continues to thrive as the Mets’ everyday third baseman in J.D. Davis’ absence. Along with McCann, he earns a fireball for his 213 wRC+ over 20 plate appearances this week, in addition to continuing to play excellent defense at the hot corner. He leads the team in hits (6), walks (4), and runs scored (4) this week. The Mets will certainly take a .500 on-base percentage from their leadoff hitter, which is where he has been hitting every day of late. He narrowly missed a grand slam in Saturday’s win over the Braves, but later had his redemption, socking a solo homer into the well of the home run apple. Choose your favorite hitting metric—99 DRC+, 104 wRC+, 104 OPS+ overall for Villar in 2021—according to any of them he has been a solid replacement and has played a huge role in keeping the Mets afloat during the tumultuous month of May.

Perhaps even more surprisingly, the same can be said for José Peraza, who has been playing second base every day while Jeff McNeil remains sidelined (along with Luis Guillorme, the primary backup infielder). He too has played slick defense and has contributed plenty with the bat. Thursday in particular was a huge day for Peraza. His solo homer was the difference in the game Game 1 of the doubleheader against the Rockies. And then in the nightcap, he drove in two runs—one on a single in the fourth and one on a bases-loaded walk in the sixth—en route to the Mets’ 4-2 win. Overall, he posted a 119 wRC+ over 16 plate appearances this week.

Along with Drury as the utility man, Wilfredo Tovar serves as the backup infielder, but has seen limited playing time with others swinging a hot bat. Tovar was hitless in three plate appearances this week. It seems likely he will be the next player to be cut from the roster when the next position player gets healthy.

The couple of everyday players in Francisco Lindor and Dominic Smith that remain in the lineup have continued to struggle with the bat, although both showed signs of life this week. Lindor really had a rough go of it early in the week, but did have a walk and a stolen base in Tuesday’s game. The hits finally came at the end of the week. He hit a single in Game 2 of Thursday’s doubleheader, but really had a big day on Saturday (as did many other Mets). Lindor had two hits on Saturday, including a two-run homer in the seventh inning. He also scored three runs on the day. And it goes without saying that he continues to play Gold Glove caliber defense at shortstop. But he still posted just a 54 wRC+ over 19 plate appearances this week. Hopefully his recent burst of power is a sign that he is breaking out.

Dominic Smith has also been lacking in the power department, even when he is collecting his hits. All three of his hits in 14 plate appearances this week were singles and they, along with his one walk, add up to an 88 wRC+ for the week. Like much of the lineup, pretty much all of his production came in Saturday’s game, in which he collected his only RBI for the week. However, that RBI single came when the game was still close, putting the Mets up 2-0 at the time. Smith also scored a run in Tuesday’s victory; he came around to score on Tomás Nido’s game-winning two-run homer.