The Mets headed into the All-Star break strong, winning two of three in a crucial series against the Braves in Atlanta and then taking three out of four from the Cubs in Chicago. Even more impressively, the Mets managed to win the Braves series without two of their All-Stars in Jeff McNeil and Starling Marte. The former has struggled a bit since returning from the paternity list, but the latter has picked up right where he left off and heads into the break with a hot bat. The Cubs series was a slog with a doubleheader on Saturday in which the two teams played 21 total innings of baseball, but the Mets pulled off a sweep of that twin bill thanks to some sparkling defense, strong pitching, and taking advantage of miscues by the opposition. This week’s meter highlights more than anything else the team’s two offensive black holes at DH and catcher and the Mets’ need to acquire a bat to fill that void at the trading deadline.
Since I talked about the black hole from the DH position, we’ll start with that. You’ll notice two poop emojis this week belonging to Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis—the two players with the lion’s share of DH at-bats. Smith had just one hit and two walks with a run scored in 17 plate appearances—a -15 wRC+. Davis went hitless with a walk in his ten plate appearances this week. I almost spared Davis the poop emoji because of this miraculous pick at first base in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader that likely was a game-saving play. But, going 0-for-10 for the week with the bat is hard to ignore. This season, the Mets have posted an 80 wRC+ in aggregate from the DH position, which is 26th in the big leagues and is inflated by the plate appearances Pete Alonso and others have taken at DH at various points this year. It is clear they are one bat short and the obvious place for that bat is the DH position to keep the plate appearances from Smith and Davis to a minimum.
Less dire than the DH position, but still not ideal is the catching position. With James McCann out, Patrick Mazeika was promoted from Triple-A to be the backup to Tomás Nido. For his part, Mazeika had three hits, a run scored, and two RBIs in 13 plate appearances this week, good for a 53 wRC+. Mazeika’s two RBIs came on a double in the second inning of Thursday’s 8-0 victory. Nido had two hits, a walk, and a run scored in 14 plate appearances, which amounts to a 14 wRC+. Like most weeks, these numbers are not eye catching, but Nido does continue to contribute defensively with his framing and throwing skills. Catcher offense is down across the league and the Mets can better absorb a non-threat at the plate in their catching position if they add an additional bat elsewhere in the lineup.
This week, Travis Jankowski returned from the injured list and took Ender Inciarte’s place on the roster. He continues to serve in the fourth outfielder role as a pinch runner and late-inning defensive replacement. However, this week his lack of offense hurt the Mets a little bit more than usual because he played a fair amount due to Marte and McNeil’s absence and Saturday’s doubleheader. In 15 plate appearances, Jankowski posted a 21 wRC+. He went hitless, but did walk three times in that span.
Luckily the rest of this meter looks much better. Starling Marte returned to the lineup for the Cubs series and picked up right where he left off, putting up a 143 wRC+ in 14 plate appearances across three games (he was rested for the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader). He collected five hits—all singles—walked once, scored two runs, and drove in a run. He also stole a team-leading two bases this week.
By contrast, Jeff McNeil has struggled since returning from paternity leave. He had just two hits and a walk in 18 plate appearances this week—a 15 wRC+. He did not score any runs or drive in any runs this week. Hopefully this is just a short slump for the Mets’ second baseman and he will heat back up in the second half. McNeil is still hitting an even .300 for the season with a 128 wRC+. With the injury to Jazz Chisolm Jr., McNeil will be the starting second baseman in tomorrow’s All-Star Game.
Although no one can really be described as raging hot this week, the overwhelming majority of the lineup had good to great numbers. If I had to pick a standout player, it would probably be Francisco Lindor, who posted a team-leading 174 wRC+ this week in 33 plate appearances. He also led the team in hits with ten. Three of them went for extra bases, including a huge three-run homer in the rubber game of the Braves series that put the Mets up 4-0 and an RBI triple that represented the Mets’ only run in Tuesday’s loss. Overall, Lindor drove in six runs and scored four runs this week. He also stole a base. In the first half, Lindor has accrued 3.4 fWAR and amassed 66 RBIs—on pace for a monster year.
Lindor’s six RBIs for the week and 66 RBIs for the season are both second only to Pete Alonso for the team lead. Despite posting just a 60 wRC+ this week, Alonso still leads the team in RBIs with eight, so it was hard to slap the red arrow on him for that. After being stuck at 69 RBIs for awhile (nice) during his slump, he finally snapped that skid on Keith Hernandez day last weekend and kept rolling after that. Although Alonso batted just .172 this week, three of his five hits went for extra bases, including a home run that put the cherry on top of the Mets’ victory in their series opener in Chicago. Alonso’s RBI double in the third inning of Monday’s game put the Mets on the board and helped set the tone for that victory. And it was Alonso’s sacrifice fly in the eleventh inning of the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader that turned out to be the game-winning RBI. The Polar Bear may not be fully out of his slump yet, but there is no denying his run production this week and his 78 RBIs for the season still lead the major leagues. Tonight, he looks to win his third Home Run Derby in a row.
Brandon Nimmo was the team leader in runs scored (10) and walks (6) this week and matched Francisco Lindor’s team-leading .424 on-base percentage in a very characteristic Brandon Nimmo week. Nimmo collected eight hits, three of which went for extra bases and drove in one run this week. Over 33 plate appearances, he posted an excellent 165 wRC+. Nimmo has been invaluable to the Mets out of the leadoff position all year long and has played great center field defense to boot. Perhaps most importantly of all, he has stayed on the field and stayed healthy. The Mets will need that from Nimmo in the second half.
Mark Canha also had his second consecutive strong week with the bat, putting up a 137 wRC+ in 22 plate appearances this week. Canha collected four hits and four walks. His only RBI for the week came on a home run—his seventh of the season—in Wednesday’s rubber game victory against the Braves in which the Mets beat them at their own game with the long ball. Much like Nimmo, part of the key for Canha’s first half success has been staying healthy and staving off the hip problems that have sidelined him in the past. Buck Showalter has been judicious about resting Canha often and that will likely continue in the second half, especially if the Mets acquire another bat to put in the mix.
Eduardo Escobar also homered in Wednesday’s game, getting things started for the Mets with a solo shot in the second inning. Escobar broke out of his slump in a big way this week, posting a 167 wRC+ over 31 plate appearances. His nine hits are second only to Lindor for the team lead. He was also the only Met to go yard multiple times this week, also homering in the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader, which at the time snapped a 1-1 tie. Escobar was a huge factor in that extra-inning win, stepping on third base and launching a strong throw over the first base to turn the double play that ended the game with the bases loaded in the tenth inning. Escobar played strong defense at third throughout the week; impressive defense was a team-wide theme this week.
Speaking of impressive defense, Luis Guillorme continues to be a key contributor to the team and that was especially true this week with Jeff McNeil and Starling Marte both out for a portion of the week. Guillorme even batted cleanup in Wednesday’s game, which shows how short-handed the Mets were. But, Guillorme made a good showing for himself with the bat this week, posting a 124 wRC+ in 24 plate appearances. He collected five hits, including three extra base hits, four walks, two runs scored, and three RBIs. The highlight of the week for Guillorme? His second home run of the season, which provided a key insurance run for the Mets in the eighth inning of Monday’s victory.