The New York Mets have now won seven straight series to start the 2022 season, taking two out of three from the Cardinals—which included one improbable comeback victory and some benches-clearing fireworks—and two out of three from the NL East rival Phillies, which included a combined no-hitter (more on that in the pitching meter). Over that six-game span, the Mets posted a 120 wRC+ as a team, which is third in the National League. Although they failed to take advantage of opportunities in Saturday’s loss, despite drawing a lot of walks, the offense was otherwise very good this week and broke out for ten runs in yesterday’s game, thanks to Dominic Smith’s big day at the plate. This is the first week Francisco Lindor has cooled off at the plate since the season started, but luckily others—namely Smith, Jeff McNeil, and Mark Canha—have stepped up in his stead, which is what happens on good baseball teams.
Let’s talk about Jeff McNeil, who is absolutely raking right now. He is the Mets’ standout performer with the bat this week, posting a team-leading 293 wRC+ in 20 plate appearances this week, which earns him a big, bright fireball for this meter. He also leads the team in hits with ten and shares the team lead in runs scored with four. McNeil has been absolutely instrumental to several Mets wins this week. Let’s start with Monday’s incredible comeback win. After Nolan Arenado’s throwing error, it was McNeil’s double that kept the rally going. McNeil would eventually come around to score the go-ahead run. McNeil’s two-run double in the fifth inning of Friday night’s game snapped the scoreless tie and provided the Mets pitchers will all the offense they would need to see the no-hitter through. And although Dominic Smith was the star of yesterday’s game, it was also a huge day for McNeil, who went 4-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI, and a run scored. McNeil is looking every bit the .300-ish hitter he has been for his entire career, making last season look more and more like an aberration. Hopefully his days of hitting eighth in the order are over.
Right in the middle of some big Mets victories this week was also Dominic Smith, who likely quite literally saved his roster spot with his performance yesterday. In yesterday’s game, Smith went 4-for-4 with a double, three RBIs, and a run scored. Although yesterday was clearly his biggest day this week and probably this season thus far, he also provided the climax of Monday’s highlight reel. With two on and two out in the ninth and the Mets down a run, Dom hit a rope down the first base line on which Paul Goldschmidt made a fantastic grab, but Dom hustled to first base and did a headfirst slide to avoid the tag of the late-arriving Giovanny Gallegos, which allowed the go-ahead run to score and ended up being the decisive play of the night. Overall, Smith collected five hits, one walk, and a team-leading five RBIs in fourteen plate appearances this week, good for a 203 wRC+ and a fireball. Dominic Smith lives to fight another day as a New York Met.
Unfortunately Dominic Smith’s gain is is Robinson Canó’s loss. As I alluded to in last week’s meter, the Mets were going to have some difficult decisions to make come May 1 as rosters shrink from 28 to 26. As Smith and Canó fill very similar roles on the team (lefty side of the DH platoon who occasionally plays the field to allow other players days off), they were more or less competing for a single roster spot. And coming into this week, it was hard to argue that either one of them earned it. However, Smith had a big week while Canó continued to struggle at the plate. In seven plate appearances this week, Canó reached base just once on a single. He is under the Mendoza line for the 2022 season with a .195/.233/.268 slash line in 43 plate appearances this season. But more than that, as Michael Drago addressed in a recent article, the underlying batted ball data for Canó is outright alarming and indicates a sharp drop in bat speed due to age-related decline. And earlier today, somewhat surprisingly, the Mets designated Robinson Canó for assignment—something that likely would have never happened in the Wilpon era. Although the sample size is small, neither the data nor the eye test for Canó is good and his continued presence on the roster would have been detrimental to the team. It was time.
Anyway, back to happier news. Completing the trio of fireballs I’ve handed out this week is Mark Canha, who posted a 212 wRC+ in 19 plate appearances this week. His seven hits this week are tied for second on the team and one of them finally did go for extra bases. His double off Aaron Nola in Friday night’s game was his first of the year. Canha’s contribution to Monday night’s improbable comeback was also essential; after Eduardo Escobar singled to get things going, Canha drove him in with a single to bring the Mets within a run. Although power is still a concern with Canha, he is still spraying hits all over the field while showing encouraging signs in the power department this week.
Luis Guillorme has stayed hot as well and the only reason he did not also earn a fireball is because he had just eight plate appearances this week. But in those eight plate appearances he collected three hits, including two extra base hits, an RBI, and a run scored. Guillorme’s double that put the Mets back in front in the second inning of last night’s game was the hardest-struck ball I’ve seen from Guillorme in quite some time. Francisco Lindor even quipped while he was mic’d up on ESPN that he thought the ball was out of the ballpark until he remembered who was hitting it. We’ve seen enough of Luis Guillorme to know that he is never going to be a consistent power threat, but as long as he can be an above-average hitter, given his defensive skills in the field, that is an extremely useful player. Guillorme was possibly a long shot to be cut from the team, but if his spot wasn’t secure already before this week, it is secure now.
Speaking of Francisco Lindor, this week was the Mets shortstop’s first rough week at the plate in 2022. In 27 plate appearances this week, Lindor put up a decidedly meh 57 wRC+. Lindor got an RBI for the only run scored in Saturday’s game on a fielder’s choice and scored two runs in yesterday’s game, but that was more or less the extent of his production this week. His only extra base hit this week was an RBI double in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s loss that brought the Mets closer, but the Cardinals piled on and the game was mostly out of reach at that point. In all, Lindor had five hits this week. Lindor was never going to stay as hot as he was most of April forever and hopefully this cold spell is short lived.
Similarly, Starling Marte is unfortunately trending downward this week. Normally a 20 wRC+ in 28 plate appearances from what should be a key Mets bat at the top of the order would warrant poop emoji consideration, but Marte shares the team lead with Smith with five RBIs this week. One of those came on a bases loaded hit by pitch (Marte is one of the many Mets who has been hit often in the early going) in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s shutout victory that gave the Mets an insurance run. Marte’s productive out also got the Mets going in their second inning rally yesterday. So this is how Marte has been able to rack up the RBIs this week, despite notching just four hits. Marte also walked once and scored a run this week. Although Marte continues to contribute with his speed and athleticism in right field, he is looking a bit lost at the plate at the moment.
Eduardo Escobar has cooled off some as well, although not quite to the extent of Lindor and Marte. Escobar is still racking up the hits. In fact, his seven hits match Canha’s total for the week and are the second-most on the team. But he had more plate appearances than Canha and unlike Canha, he was hitting a lot of doubles, which he has not done this week. Only one of his seven hits went for extra bases. Escobar also walked twice this week and posted an unremarkable 109 wRC+ overall for the week. But, Escobar does lead the team in runs scored this week with five. All in all, Escobar is still hitting, but the power he showed early has dropped off a bit of late.
Speaking of power, it was Brandon Nimmo’s two-run homer that put the cherry on top of the Mets’ five-run inning on Monday night. Overall, Nimmo collected five hits and two of the five were for extra bases, including the home run. Nimmo’s other extra base hit this week was a two-run double that extended the Mets’ lead to three runs in Wednesday’s game before the Mets gave it all back. Although a .200 batting average for the week is quite mediocre, Nimmo walked a customary four times—tied for the team lead—so that combined with the extra base hits puts his wRC+ for the week at an unremarkable, but respectable 107.
Pete Alonso shares the team lead with Nimmo in walks with four of his own and posted a solid 130 wRC+ for the week. Last week, the concern with Alonso was the absence of his trademark power. But the Polar Bear snapped a streak of eleven of his hits in a row being singles with a solo homer off Aaron Nola in the sixth inning of Friday night’s game. Although the Mets turned out not to need the insurance, it provided the pitching staff some breathing room as they achieved history. The home run was one of Alonso’s four RBIs for the week.
James McCann is still not lighting the world on fire, but I think the Mets will take a 108 wRC+ from their catcher, which is what McCann put up in ten plate appearances this week. McCann had a big day at the plate for the Mets in Tuesday’s shoutout victory; he went 3-for-4 in that game with an RBI double and a run scored, which essentially represents all of his production for the week with the bat. However, McCann also caught Friday night’s combined no-hitter and his contribution of calling that game cannot be understated.
Tomás Nido, meanwhile, notched two hits in ten plate appearances this week. Unfortunately his big hit for the week will likely get lost in the shuffle since it came in a Mets loss, but in the series finale against the Cardinals, Nido’s RBI double in the second inning put the Mets ahead and was a key part of that four-run inning for the Mets. However, the fact remains that Nido is hitting .188 this season with a 17 wRC+, which is bad, even for a backup catcher.
J.D. Davis had just five plate appearances this week and reached base in one of them via a hit by pitch. Now that the DH slot is more of a two-man job instead of a three-man job, Davis will continue to start pretty much every time a lefty is on the mound and may see some more playing time on top of that as well—either as the DH or occasionally at third base to spell Eduardo Escobar.
Travis Jankowski appeared in five games this week, but did not have any plate appearances. However, he did score two runs as a pinch runner. Jankowski is someone who was potentially on the chopping block as well, but his utility as a late-inning defensive replacement at all three outfield positions and as a pinch runner combined with his lack of options has saved his roster spot.