Happy Opening Week, Amazin’ Avenue community! We are merely one day away from Games That Count after our long lockout winter of discontent. But, now that spring training games have concluded, it is time to declare which player was the best at Games That Don’t Count.
The King of Spring Training contest is always an exercise in small sample sizes and that is even more true this year, due to the shortened spring training. For that reason, I decided to forego the weekly updates I usually do for KoST and simply post one poll with all of the final spring stats. The other challenge with KoST this year is that the spirit of the contest is meant to shine the spotlight on the less heralded players in camp—the NRIs, the minor league players, the fringe/bench guys, and the like. But, given the shorter spring training, those types of guys saw even less playing time than usual, as the focus was necessarily on getting the regulars ready in a hurry. As a result, finding clear KoST candidates is a challenge this year. But gosh darn it, we’re going to move forward anyway. Because it is Amazin’ Avenue tradition!
So let’s review our field of ten 2022 KoST candidates, shall we? They are listed in alphabetical order by last name, not by the strength of their KoST case. The strength of their case is up to you to decide, dear readers.
Francisco Álvarez - .250/.400/1.000 in 4 ABs
So Álvarez is a case of a small sample size to end all small sample sizes, but I had to be pretty inclusive when it came to KoST this year due to the dearth of candidates. And Álvarez is here mostly because of the absolute mammoth of a home run he hit in March 24th’s Grapefruit League victory against the Marlins, which was arguably one of the highlights of spring training this year. Other than that monster shot, Álvarez also walked once this spring. But that moment provided the briefest of glimpses into the future for one of the Mets’ top prospects and it was definitely exciting to watch, earning him a place on the list.
Luis Guillorme - .238/.385/.429 in 21 ABs
Luis Guillorme was last year’s KoST champion, hitting .313 across 32 at-bats in Grapefruit League play in 2021 and putting together a legendary 22-pitch plate appearance that likely put him over the edge. He looks to defend his title this year, albeit with slightly less impressive numbers at the plate. Still, he was among only a handful of players to notch five hits or more this spring and that included a home run off Josiah Gray in the Mets’ very first game of spring training. His four walks in Grapefruit League play this year are also tied for third-most on the team. Guillorme is a player who has obviously been around for awhile, but who suddenly takes on outsized importance if the Mets are to suffer an injury in their infield.
Colin Holderman - 6.75 ERA, 1.95 WHIP, 14 Ks in 6 2⁄3 IP
So I know what you’re thinking. I can already hear you screaming at me through the screen. “Allison, why the heck are you including a pitcher in this list, let alone one who had a 6.75 ERA?!” Colin Holderman is on this list because he led the team in strikeouts this spring. It wasn’t Jacob deGrom. It wasn’t even Max Scherzer (he had the second-most K’s). It was Colin Holderman. Holderman is a 2016 ninth-round draft pick who has been injured a lot in his career and so has not really been on anyone’s radar—until now. The non-roster invitee dazzled with his high-90s fastball this spring and racked up the strikeouts because he is finally healthy and he has changed his mechanics, which have translated to great results for him. The high ERA is mostly due to the Nationals’ rout of the Mets in their final game of spring, in which Holderman was one of many pitchers who got lit up, giving up three runs, including two home runs in 1 2⁄3 innings of work. Heading into the month of April, Holderman was unscored upon in four spring appearances. “He’s got my attention,” Buck Showalter said of Holderman. “Verifying what people have told me about his potential. He’s been good.” A previous unknown grabbing the manager’s attention? Sounds like KoST material to me.
Travis Jankowski - .222/.391/.222 in 18 ABs
Along with Guillorme, Jankowski is one of three players on this list to walk four times this spring, which is among the team leaders. He also collected four hits and stole a base, resulting in an impressive on-base percentage this spring. Jankowski makes this list because he is a non-roster invitee who is traveling north with the Mets this season. Part of that is due to the Mets rather paltry depth when it comes to the outfield, but still, the 30-year-old proved that he can potentially make a positive impact with the Mets in 2022.
Tylor Megill - 0.00 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 7 Ks in 6 2⁄3 IP
Last season when Jacob deGrom (and others) went down, Tylor Megill was suddenly thrust into an important role with the Mets and he finds himself in that position again to start this season—penciled in as the Opening Day starter, despite not being on anyone’s radar as recently as this time last season. Megill put up a clean sheet this spring in 6 2⁄3 innings of work and is a less heralded name that is suddenly key to the Mets’ 2022 success and thus a candidate for this year’s KoST.
Tomás Nido - .417/.440/.583 in 24 ABs
One could argue that Nido is too much of a veteran/established player to be included in the KoST field, but much like the KoST winner Guillorme last year, he is a backup player that may play himself into more at-bats. Nido’s ten hits this spring are the second-most on the team—tied with Francisco Lindor. Nido is just one of four Mets to log more than five at-bats this spring to post an OPS over 1.000 (the others are Lindor, Starling Marte, and Dominic Smith). Given Nido’s defensive prowess behind the plate, which is well-known, if he can actually put together a whole season where he can even be a league-average hitter, then he suddenly becomes a more valuable catcher than James McCann. In fact, one can already argue that the two should be doing more of a timeshare than McCann acting as the established starter.
Daniel Palka - .208/.321/.292 in 24 ABs
Palka is the minor leaguer who saw the most at-bats by a fairly significant margin this spring and so in a year of small sample sizes, he worms himself into the field simply by being one of the few minor leaguers for which we have a decent 2022 spring training sample size. Palka comported himself well, collecting five hits and four walks, thus putting up an impressive .321 on-base percentage in Grapefruit League play this year. Palka also scored a run and drove in three runs.
Chasen Shreve - 0.00 ERA, 0.25 WHIP, 6 Ks in 4 IP
With the departure of Aaron Loup, the Mets found themselves very lacking in lefty relievers and thus reunited with Chasen Shreve—who pitched with the Mets in 2020—on a minor league deal. Shreve is among our field of KoST candidates because he has made the team as a non-roster invitee, even after the Mets acquired another lefty reliever in Joely Rodríguez, thanks in part to his stellar spring. Shreve was unscored upon in his four appearances this spring and walked only one batter while striking out six in those four innings of work. Shreve held lefty hitters to a .200 batting average last season and the Mets will be relying on him to be effective in a lefty-laden NL East in 2022.
Trevor Williams - 0.00 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 6 Ks in 5 IP
Trevor Williams rounds out our trio of fringe-type pitchers who posted a clean sheet this spring. Williams was likely to make the team this season in some role or another due to the fact that he is out of options, but it certainly was not a guarantee if he did not perform well in spring. But, he landed that long man role in the bullpen on the back of five scoreless innings of work in Grapefruit League play with six strikeouts and three walks. Although it seems that Megill is the one who will be slotted into the rotation in deGrom’s absence, everyone else on the starting pitching depth/swing man totem pole, including Williams, will have to step up in 2022 as well to weather the storm of half a season without deGrom.
Wyatt Young - .500/.500/.750 in 4 ABs
Much like Álvarez, Wyatt Young is a guy who made a big impression in very limited playing time this spring. But unlike Álvarez, who most Mets fans are familiar with at this point, Wyatt Young is a guy who made me say, “Who’s this guy?!” And that is the essence of KoST. In four spring training at-bats smattered across three games, Young collected two hits, including a double, two RBIs, and he scored a run.
Alright folks, time to cast your votes. Who is your 2022 KoST?
Who is the 2022 Mets King of spring training?
This poll is closed