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Mets Player Performance Meter: Position players, April 7-17

A quick review of how the Mets’ position players fared over the first ten games of the 2022 season.

Arizona Diamondbacks v New York Mets Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

Now that we have ten games under our belts for the 2022 season, it’s time for our first set of meters for the season! The Mets are one of only three teams in baseball with seven wins and all ten games have been theoretically winnable for the Amazins. They have won each of the first three series so far this season.

As far as the offense goes specifically, aside from Saturday’s loss, they have been firing on almost all cylinders. The Mets have a +26 run differential, which is second only to the Dodgers in baseball. Of course, that says something about both the offense and the pitching, but the Mets’ 51 runs scored matches the Dodgers for the second-best mark in baseball behind only the Athletics. The Mets have gotten a collective 2.6 fWAR from their offense in the first ten games of the season, which is the best in baseball, and their 128 team wRC+ is tied for the second-best mark in baseball. The Mets have gotten production out of nearly every position on the roster; it is only the DH tandem and the catching tandem that has underperformed thus far with the bat. But given what the starting pitching especially has done so far, with the current level of offensive production, the Mets are in pretty darn good shape in the early going this season.

One obvious talking point heading into the 2022 season was that a huge part of the Mets’ success hinges on Francisco Lindor not repeating his slow start from last year. Not only has he not repeated his slow start from last season, he has hit the ground running, putting up a 198 wRC+ over his first 43 plate appearances, which is second-best on the team. He leads the team in both runs scored and walks, with nine apiece. He has also matched Pete Alonso’s marks of three home runs (leads the team) and nine hits (third-most on the team). Over half of Lindor’s nine hits have gone for extra bases. Lindor has also driven in seven runs (third-most on the team) and stolen two bases. He also has been all-around the most valuable player on the team, putting up a team-leading 0.7 fWAR in the first ten games of the season alone. Francisco Lindor’s 2021 being just a blip on the radar as he adjusts to being one of the faces of the franchise would be huge for the 2022 Mets; here is hoping these trends continue.

The Mets have also gotten everything they could have hoped for out of Pete Alonso so far this season. As I mentioned above, he is tied with Lindor for the team lead in home runs with three, one of which was the first grand slam of his career. Alonso’s fourteen RBIs not only lead the Mets, but lead the entire National League. Of Alonso’s nine hits, six of them were for extra bases. Pete has also scored seven runs and put up a 130 wRC+ over his first 45 plate appearances in 2022. It is worth noting that the majority of his offensive production has come on the days that he has served as the DH. However, it is not likely that he will cede the role as the Mets’ every day starting first baseman, especially with Dominic Smith underperforming so far. His first base defense did arguably cost the Mets the series finale in Washington, but he has been otherwise solid and has even made some fantastic plays at first this season. Alonso made huge strides defensively in 2021 and hopefully the game in DC was an aberration rather than any sign of regression in that department.

Since I mentioned Dominic Smith let’s talk about him next. Thus far he has mostly served in a timeshare with Robinson Canó as the lefty side of the DH platoon while occasionally playing first base and allowing Alonso a partial rest day as the DH. He has also been a pinch hitter off the bench, although Buck Showalter has not pinch hit all that much so far this season. When the Mets opted not to trade Smith to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Chris Paddack, Eric Hosmer, and Emilio Pagan, they denied Smith the opportunity to play close to every day elsewhere, but playing time has been a real “chicken or the egg” problem with Smith so far this season. Not getting regular playing time has perhaps resulted in him not establishing a rhythm at the plate, but because he has not hit much, he has not played himself into more plate appearances. In 23 plate appearances so far this season, Smith has hit just .118 and posted a 51 wRC+. His .304 on-base percentage is slightly more respectable, in part thanks to the three walks he has drawn in addition to collecting two hits, but it’s still not good enough.

The only “good” news for Smith (though it is bad news for the Mets) is that his teammates competing for playing time as the DH have also not done themselves many favors at the plate so far. Robinson Canó has been getting the lion’s share of the time at DH so far and has fared better than Smith, but still does not look like the Robinson Canó from before his steroid suspension. So far, he has collected five hits in 24 plate appearances, but just one went for extra bases—his first home run of the season, which came in Friday’s home opener in honor of the player he is named for. Canó has also walked once, good for a 74 wRC+. He has scored three runs and also driven in three runs so far this season.

J.D. Davis’ at-bats so far have come almost exclusively against left-handed pitching, as he fills out the DH tandem for the Mets. Davis contributed to yesterday’s victory in the form of an RBI hit and some crafty baserunning, but has thus far been just okay at the plate overall, batting .231/.375/.308 across 16 plate appearances with a 111 wRC+. He has collected three hits (one for extra bases), three walks, two runs scored, and yesterday’s aforementioned RBI, which was his first of the season. Thus far the Mets seem reluctant to use him in the field, which is probably for the best, but if he’s going to see more playing time, he’s going to have to start hitting.

The only other area besides the DH position where the Mets have lacked production is from their catchers, who have both been pretty awful at the plate so far. James McCann’s two hits and a walk in 23 plate appearances are good for a dismal 11 wRC+. However, he has scored two runs and driven in two runs and stolen a base to boot. Still, if the ineptitude at the plate that he showed in 2021 continues, the contract that the Mets gave McCann will continue to look worse and worse.

However, Tomás Nido, who earned this year’s King of Spring Training title by tearing the cover off the ball in spring has unfortunately not carried that momentum into the season. He has hit better than McCann, but not by much. He has three hits—all singles—and one run scored in 14 plate appearances thus far. Obviously there is something to be said for Nido’s defensive prowess behind the plate and that should not be understated, but he has yet to show he can hit consistently enough at the major league level to justify being the every day catcher. Still, McCann has been bad enough with the bat himself that the two have been more or less sharing time. The silver lining is that the Mets have not yet needed their catchers to step up with the bat, but the time may come when other players are slumping that they will need that production and there are no signs thus far that it is forthcoming.

Now that all the bad news is out of the way, we’re basically on to good news from here on out. The Mets’ most prominent position player acquisition of the offseason has proven to be everything the Mets could have hoped for so far this season. Starling Marte is one of only two Mets to rack up double-digit hits so far this season (10) and is second only to Alonso in RBIs with ten in that category as well. He has also scored eight runs—second only to Lindor for the team lead—hit two home runs, and stolen two bases. He is still figuring things out in right field and has had a couple of mishaps, but there is no reason to believe he won’t adjust to the position. Marte has posted a 123 wRC+ in his first 41 plate appearances as a Met and that will certainly play as he remains a fixture at the top of the Mets lineup.

The Mets’ other position player acquisitions have also fared well to start the season. Mark Canha had been living up to his reputation as an on-base machine and then some before an unlucky positive COVID-19 test (Canha is vaccinated) sidelined him for a still-undetermined amount of time. Prior to that unfortunate turn of events, Canha had been among the Mets’ biggest producers at the plate, posting a 170 wRC+ in his first 26 plate appearances as a Met. He racked up eight hits, four walks, two runs scored, and three RBIs. Canha had been hitting toward the bottom of the order, but having another guy in the lineup capable of putting up an elite on-base percentage (his is .500 so far) has been hugely beneficial for the Mets.

Eduardo Escobar is probably the least heralded of the Mets’ three major position player acquisitions, but he has been just as much of a contributor to the team as Marte and Canha as the Mets’ every day third baseman. His nine walks are tied with Lindor for the team lead and he has posted a .258/.425/.484 batting line with a 164 wRC+ in 40 plate appearances. He has collected eight hits, a whopping six of which have gone for extra bases. He has also scored five runs and driven in two runs. Between his production at the plate, his excellent clubhouse presence, and his solid third base defense, Escobar has been a breath of fresh air and a very good addition to the Mets so far in 2022.

Like Canha, Brandon Nimmo also tested positive for COVID-19. There is no official record of Nimmo’s vaccination status (he has declined to comment when asked), so he could be sidelined even longer than Canha if he is not vaccinated due to the differences in protocols between vaccinated and unvaccinated players. It’s a shame because Nimmo was on track for a fireball for his first meter, but he has now missed enough time that I couldn’t quite justify giving it to him. Still, the Mets’ leadoff hitter is the team leader in wRC+ with a mark of 218 and has been blistering hot in the early going. He has collected eight hits, half of which were for extra bases, and two walks. Nimmo also rounds out the quartet of Mets (alongside Lindor, Alonso, and Marte) with multiple home runs this year. His two home runs represent his only two RBIs of the season (not surprising since he has led off when he has been in the lineup). He has also scored six runs and continued to show that he has improved enough defensively to hack it as the every day center fielder.

In what is excellent news for the Mets, Jeff McNeil looks like Jeff McNeil again. In extremely Jeff McNeil fashion, he leads the Mets in hits over the first ten games of the season with eleven in 38 plate appearances. He has also walked five times, which is the second-highest mark on the team. He has posted a .344/.447/.438 batting line with a 164 wRC+. He only has one extra base hit so far, but with the Mets getting plenty of power elsewhere in the lineup, they are probably hardly concerned about that as long as McNeil continues to post the elite batting average we are used to seeing from him. Although McNeil has gotten most of his plate appearances at second base, with two of the Mets’ starting outfielders sidelined at the moment, he has also been playing left field and doing so extremely well. If these early returns continue, McNeil should be able to put 2021 in the rearview mirror pretty quickly.

We now move to the Mets bench players, among which Travis Jankowski has probably seen the most playing time due to Canha and Nimmo’s absence. And Jankowski has comported himself very well in the early going, collecting five hits in 13 plate appearances so far. Jankowski has also stolen two bases and played a very solid center field. Thus far he has proven to be a useful addition to bolster the Mets’ dreadful outfield depth.

Speaking of the Mets’ dreadful outfield depth, with Nimmo and Canha on the COVID list, Nick Plummer is with the team in a fifth outfielder role and made his major league debut this week. So far he has appeared in two games and had one plate appearance in which he did not reach base. But, his walk-up music is really good.

Mets utility infielder Luis Guillorme has had a very rough time with the bat so far in 2022, earning the only poop emoji of the bunch in this first meter. Guillorme is hitless so far in 14 plate appearances with two walks. However, he has been great in the field when he has filled in there—same as ever.