The Mets went 4-3 this week, taking two out of three from the struggling Diamondbacks and coming back from two straight losses to split a series with a very talented Padres team. While the Mets’ lineup remains a shell of what it was on Opening Day, it has begun to see a trickle of reinforcements return. Both Pete Alonso and Kevin Pillar were activated from the injured list this week and there are a couple of new names on this week’s meter (Mason Williams, Travis Blankenhorn) replacing other players (Khalil Lee, Cameron Maybin, Wilfredo Tovar) who were not producing at the plate. Perhaps even more importantly, though, James McCann and Francisco Lindor—two of the Mets’ big offseason acquisitions—have both finally begun to heat up this week, along with Dominic Smith. And it has been huge for the Mets, who posted a 116 wRC+ and 1.6 fWAR (batting) as a team this week; both marks are in the top five in the National League.
We’ll start with the players who returned from the injured list this week: Pete Alonso and Kevin Pillar. The Mets desperately missed Alonso’s bat in the lineup and in his first week back, he showed why by driving in six runs, which was the second-best mark on the team. In addition to driving in the go-ahead run in Wednesday’s victory, Alonso had an RBI single and a home run in Monday’s win and plated a key insurance run against Chris Paddack in yesterday’s game. Overall, he posted a 124 wRC+ over 28 plate appearances this week.
Pillar’s first week back was less successful on the whole, but he did hit a single in his very first at-bat, which came with a huge ovation from the crowd and his dugout. For him to return from being hit in the face with a fastball and suffering multiple nasal fractures after just two weeks is pretty incredible. He now wears a protective mask in the field and Luis Rojas has been careful with Pillar, easing him back into the lineup. His single on Monday was one of five hits for Pillar this week—all singles. He owns a 36 wRC+ over 21 plate appearances for the week with two runs scored and an RBI.
The trio that has really carried the Mets offense this week has been Dominic Smith, Francisco Lindor, and James McCann, who all struggled to varying degrees to start the season. They are now all hot at the same time, which is an excellent thing for the Mets. None of them are hotter than Smith, who earns the fireball for his 246 wRC+ in 27 plate appearances this week, which leads the team. Other than McCann, Smith is the only Met to homer more than once this week—once snapping a scoreless tie on Tuesday and once to add to the Mets’ lead yesterday. He also leads the team in both walks (4) and, surprisingly, stolen bases (2) this week. In total, he’s scored two runs and driven in four. Although Smith has had short spurts of production, this is the first week where he’s truly looked locked in at the plate all season.
McCann, meanwhile, is having his second hot week in a row, which hopefully means that last week wasn’t a fluke due to him playing some first base and having to focus less on catching. McCann is not only hitting, but hitting for power. He blasted three long balls this week, which represent half of his total hits. So while his batting average this week is a pedestrian .261, he posted a 159 wRC+, which is behind only Smith and Lindor for the team lead. And thanks to his three home runs, he leads the team by far in RBIs this week with nine. It was McCann’s clutch RBI double in the top of the tenth inning on Tuesday that put the Mets ahead before unfortunately being walked off in the bottom of the frame. In addition to opening the scoring on Wednesday with a three-run shot off Madison Bumgarner, he also drove in a key run in the narrow victory by pulling the Mets back even in the second inning after David Peterson failed to protect the four-run lead he was given early.
A significant number of McCann’s RBI situations last week were set up by Francisco Lindor, who had his best week as a Met this week. Lindor’s eleven hits—nearly half of which went for extra bases—and seven runs scored this week both lead the team by a pretty significant margin and his 172 wRC+ in 32 plate appearances is second only to Smith for the team lead. On Saturday, Lindor launched his fifth home run of the year, putting the Mets ahead 2-0. He also hit his first triple of the year in Tuesday’s loss. Lindor also walked once this week, getting on base ahead of Billy McKinney, who drove him in to pull the Mets within a run on Thursday. Don’t look now, but over his past 24 games, Lindor is batting .269/.330/.462 with 11 extra-base hits (4 HR), 10 RBIs, four steals, and 19 runs scored.
In addition to some of the regulars heating up, the ReplaceMets continue to do their jobs. Billy McKinney has been a welcome addition to the team and is now playing nearly every day. I already mentioned his clutch RBI triple in Thursday’s game and if Gary DiSarcina had sent him home to attempt an inside-the-park home run, we may be having a very different conversation about Thursday’s game. Nonetheless, McKinney holds a .250/.333/.542 triple slash with a 140 wRC+ this week over 27 plate appearances—objectively an improvement over the guys he replaced in every way. He has performed well defensively and shown pop with the bat (four of his six hits were for extra bases this week), which is in line with his prospect profile. McKinney walked three times, scored two runs, drove in three runs, and stole a base this week. If he continues to perform like this, it leads one to wonder whether he’ll even be ahead of Albert Almora Jr. in the pecking order once Almora returns from the injured list.
José Peraza is another player who continues to perform well stepping into an everyday role. It was Peraza who broke the ice in support of deGrom in Saturday’s pitcher’s duel, getting the Mets on the board with his third home run of the year. Lindor soon followed with one of his own to give the Mets a lead that felt massive with deGrom on the mound. Although that home run was Peraza’s only RBI this week, his six runs scored are second only to Lindor for the team lead. In keeping with what seems to be a pattern this week, half of Peraza’s six hits were for extra bases. He also walked twice, posting a 106 wRC+ overall in 27 plate appearances this week. That, alongside his strong defense at second base, will certainly play for the Mets as they await Luis Guillorme’s impending return.
Until that time, Jonathan Villar will continue to play third base every day. But Villar has been so good that even once Guillorme returns, it is likely Villar will continue to play every day and Peraza will shift to the bench. Villar tweaked his hamstring this week, which caused him to miss some time. Although it looks like he will avoid a stint on the injured list, the Mets are being cautious with him; “We don’t want this to be another McNeil,” Luis Rojas said yesterday. This is likely warranted, as the Mets can ill afford to lose Villar for any extended period, given their already lengthy list of injured players and Villar’s performance on the field. Villar put up a 155 wRC+ this week in 18 plate appearances, which included a few pinch hitting appearances. He collected six hits, two walks, four runs scored, and an RBI, which came in the sixth inning of Saturday’s win.
Although the Mets’ backup players are now their starters and so their bench players are the backups to the backups, those bench players did not perform very well at the plate this week. Brandon Drury had just three hits (all singles) and one walk in 18 plate appearances this week, good for a 20 wRC+. His only RBI this week came when he grounded into a double play with the bases loaded and nobody out in Wednesday’s game. Drury does continue to contribute defensively though; he turned a fantastic, heads-up double play in yesterday’s game that helped Marcus Stroman get out of bases loaded, one-out jam that really changed the trajectory of the game.
Mason Williams was called up this week after tearing up Triple-A. The 29-year-old journeyman’s first week as a Met was underwhelming with the bat; he three hits and two walks with a run scored in 17 plate appearances, good for a 35 wRC+. The near-miss on a spectacular catch that would have robbed Fernando Tatis Jr. of a home run aside, he certainly plays smooth defense in the outfield. While it is clear that Williams is not a player who is going to be on the roster when the Mets are at full strength, at this point if the bar is simply “better than Cameron Maybin” (whose spot he is ostensibly taking), then he has met that bar.
Travis Blankenhorn is the other new name on the meter this week, taking Wilfredo Tovar’s spot on the roster as a pinch hitter and backup infielder. He reached base twice this week in seven plate appearances via a double in Saturday’s game and a walk in yesterday’s game.
As James McCann has heated up, Tomás Nido’s bat has cooled off, leading to the catching time share tipping in McCann’s favor of late. Nido has two hits (both singles) and one walk in ten plate appearances this week. But he continues to be an asset as a strong defensive backstop and caught Jacob deGrom’s brilliant outing on Saturday.