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Mets Player Performance Meter: Position players, April 18-24

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

New York Mets’ Francisco Lindor... Photo by Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday RM via Getty Images

The Mets went 5-2 this week, winning their series against both the Giants and the Diamondbacks to start the 2022 season with five straight series victories; it is only the second time in franchise history the Mets have accomplished this feat to begin a season. The Giants series was especially exciting, with the Mets able to take three of four from another very good team, including sweeping a doubleheader, which included a thrilling extra-inning victory in Game 1 and dominance from Max Scherzer in Game 2. Francisco Lindor remained the center of it all for the Mets offensively and continues to look great in this early season. This week did see some players cool off, but also saw some other players heat up. The Mets’ offense is still looking very good in aggregate; in the past week they lead the National League in offensive WAR (per Fangraphs) and are fourth in the National League in team wRC+ over that same span.

Let’s start with Francisco Lindor, who continues to be en fuego, earning his second straight fireball to kick off the 2022 season. He is the leader in wRC+ amongst the Mets starters with a 157 wRC+ over 33 plate appearances this week. Lindor was of course the hero in the Mets’ victory in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, delivering the walk-off hit in the tenth inning. He went 2-for-5 overall in that game with two RBIs and a stolen base. And in the nightcap, he kept right on rolling, collecting another two hits and a run scored. On Thursday, Lindor served as the designated hitter for the first time as a Met and had another huge day at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a home run and two runs scored. Overall, he led the Mets in both hits (11) and RBIs (5) this week and continues to be the Mets’ most consistent hitter so far this season.

If I had to give out a runner-up award for consistency so far this season, it would have to go to Eduardo Escobar, who is in the green for the second straight week. His early success in a Mets uniform has not gotten as much attention as Lindor’s hot April, but it absolutely deserves some recognition. Escobar posted an impressive 137 wRC+ this week in 29 plate appearances. If Lindor was the big hero in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, Escobar was the big bat in Game 2. His two-run double in the third inning got the Mets on the board and ended up being the difference in the game. Escobar now has seven doubles this year, which is tied for second in baseball. Escobar also hit a home run in Thursday’s victory. The other thing Escobar is doing is drawing walks at an impressive clip. His four walks this week are tied for the team lead. A high walk rate is not something Escobar has put up historically in his career, but it is something he has sustained over the first few weeks of the 2022 season and if better patience at the plate is indeed a sustainable adjustment he has made, then he could really churn out some serious on-base numbers this season.

Although he missed some time on the COVID-19 IL, Brandon Nimmo has picked up right where he left off upon returning. This week, he posted a 124 wRC+ in 23 plate appearances. He matches Escobar with four walks this week to lead the team. He collected five hits, one of which was for extra bases, scored three runs, and drove in a run. Nimmo’s aggressive baserunning was on display in Friday’s game, in which he stretched a base hit against the shift into a double. He also advanced to third on a Starling Marte single and eventually scored a run on a sacrifice fly.

Mark Canha also missed time on the COVID-19 IL, returning one game after Nimmo. But, unfortunately unlike Nimmo, Canha’s bat—which was raging hot in the first 10 games of the season—has cooled off some. Canha hit .222 this week, collecting four hits in 18 plate appearances. But all of those hits were singles and he hasn’t drawn any walks, so his wRC+ for the week is an unsightly 33. The lack of power has been the one concern with Canha in the early going; he seems to be spraying singles all over the field and doing so with runners on base, which helps him rack up the RBIs, but he has yet to show any power at all. In fact, he doesn’t have a single extra base hit yet in 2022. So while a .308 batting average (what he has done so far in 2022) will certainly play, keep an eye out for more extra-base power from Canha hopefully as the weather gets warmer.

Speaking of a lack of extra-base power, Pete Alonso doesn’t have a single extra base hit this week, which is certainly more alarming from him than Canha. Alonso seems to be in one of his little funks this week at the plate, which often feel worse than they are because when Pete presses, he swings at pitches way out of the zone. However, he did still put up an 82 wRC+ this week, in part because his eight hits are second only to Lindor for the team lead, even if none of them were for extra bases. Although Pete has not exhibited his patented Polar Bear Power this week, he has still contributed to many of the Mets’ victories. It was his extremely impressive stretch at first base in the top of the tenth inning in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader that kept the Giants off the board (after the initial call on the field was overturned on replay review, that is) and allowed the Mets the chance to win it in the bottom of the frame. And although Alonso did not hit the ball hard in any of his at-bats on Friday night, he had two RBIs that were essential to the Mets’ extra-inning victory in that contest as well.

Also essential to the Mets’ victory on Friday night was James McCann’s two-run homer in the seventh inning. It was a moonblast from McCann that traveled an estimated 452 feet—the longest home run of his career. At the time, it looked like it was just much-needed insurance for the Mets, as it stretched their lead to four runs. But they ended up needing every bit of that insurance. Before Friday’s game, hitting coach Eric Chavez said McCann was “close” to breaking out and McCann made him look like a genius with that long homer. Overall, it was one of just two hits for McCann this week, but he posted a 118 wRC+ over 15 plate appearances because he also drew a walk. If the Mets can even get slightly above average production at the plate from McCann, that will be a victory, considering how little they’ve gotten out of the catching position so far this season.

Meanwhile, Tomás Nido continues to not hit very much at all. Nido has just one hit in ten plate appearances this week, but that one hit was an RBI hit—a single in the fifth inning of Saturday’s loss that brought the Mets within two runs. It was one of two RBIs for Nido this week; he had a sacrifice fly in Thursday’s victory that represented his first run batted in for the season.

The other player besides McCann that Eric Chavez said was on the verge of a breakout was J.D. Davis and the numbers for Davis this week reflect that. Getting a start as the DH against the lefty Bumgarner in yesterday’s game, Davis went 2-for-3 with a home run, a walk, and two runs scored. Besides the two hits in yesterday’s game, Davis had one other this week, good for a 185 wRC+ in 11 plate appearances overall for the week.

The two players for whom the overall numbers probably don’t reflect how crucial they were to the Mets’ success this week are Starling Marte and Jeff McNeil. It was Marte’s hustle and speed in the top of the tenth inning in Friday’s extra-inning win that helped lead the Mets to victory, as he legged out an infield hit to plate the go-ahead run. He sprinted 30.2 feet per second to first base on the play, the fastest by any Mets player tracked by Statcast this season. Marte was key in that victory in more ways than one, as he was also right in the middle of the Mets’ rally in the sixth inning that put the Mets ahead. Overall this week, Marte collected six hits—all but one of them singles—and two walks, good for am 89 wRC+ for the week. Marte also scored three runs, drove in three runs, and stole two bases.

McNeil’s wRC+ for the week may be a somewhat unimpressive 93, but he led the team in runs scored this week with five. Of McNeil’s five hits this week, three of them were for extra bases, including a crucial RBI double that brought the Mets within a run in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader. McNeil’s biggest day at the plate this week came in Saturday’s loss, in which he went 2-for-3 with an RBI triple and a run scored.

Meanwhile, the biggest turnaround of the week goes to Luis Guillorme, who shaved his signature beard and is now unstoppable. Guillorme put up a .455/.571/.545 slash line this week, collecting five hits in just fifteen plate appearances, which earns him the meteoric rise from poop emoji to fireball. Despite not playing every day, he also is second only to McNeil in runs scored this week with four. Guillorme also drew three walks this week. I guess he’s not growing his beard out again any time soon.

Guillorme’s bench mob compatriot Travis Jankowski fell off a bit this week after a hot start. Jankowski collected two hits and two walks this week in twelve plate appearances, to the tune of a 77 wRC+. He scored two runs and drove in a run. Along with Guillorme, he also remains an important late-inning defensive substitute for the Mets. Since rosters shrink from 28 players to 26 next week, the Mets are going to have to make some tough decisions and Jankowski is one of the players likely on the bubble, but he has no options, so if the Mets were to cut him from the roster, they’d have to put him on waivers and run the risk of losing him to another team.

Unfortunately, Robinson Canó is looking more and more like dead weight on the roster and if the roster decisions were based on production/use to the team as it is constructed alone, Canó would be the one on the chopping block. But it seems unlikely the Mets will absorb that sunk cost at this stage. When it comes to his offensive output, Canó was at least staying afloat the first ten games or so of the season, but his production has dropped even more since then. This week, he posted a 38 wRC+ in twelve plate appearances, collecting two hits and a walk. He did not score any runs or drive in any runs. As the Mets continue to use the DH position for load management, the one thing that can be said for Canó is that he has been playing in the field at second base when needed and has looked fine defensively. But he’s going to have to hit more moving forward.

Canó’s fellow lefty and part-time DH Dominic Smith also continues to struggle at the plate, although his results improved this week from the first meter, so at least things are trending in the right direction for Smith. Getting a start at first base in Game 2 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, Smith plated a key insurance run with an RBI single as part of the Mets’ rally in the third inning. Overall, Smith collecting three hits in eleven plate appearances with a run scored and an RBI. Like with Guillorme and Jankowski, Buck Showalter has also been using Smith as a late-inning defensive replacement at first base.