Everyone loves a good underdog story. Everyone loves when a fringe signing works out. Therefore, everyone loves DJ Stewart.
Stewart was signed by the Mets in February as some minor league depth who had an outside shot to make the club as a fifth outfielder. It’s hard to remember at this point, but this was the time of late period Darin Ruf, and so bench spots were at a premium. Because of that, he did not make his Mets debut until July 4.
For his first 23 games as a Met, Stewart was a middling player at best, collecting only seven hits, two for extra bases. Once mid-August hit, Stewart’s playing time increased, as did his production.
For about a month, Stewart was one of the Mets’ hottest hitters, collecting ten home runs and six doubles while drawing more walks. Stewart, though not an historically great outfielder, also made a few impressive catches during this stretch, which only added to the hype of the moment.
Stewart hit a slump at the end of the season, but his performance was enough that he’s likely to get a stronger look as a fourth/fifth outfielder for 2024. Stewart’s slash line of .238/.328/.494 with 11 home runs and 26 RBIs is good for a 123 OPS+, which is his career best in a season when he had at least 100 plate appearances.
Next season is his first arbitration eligible season, so the Mets have control over Stewart for another couple of years. While he’s probably not the answer in a corner outfield spot, as a bench player, sometimes DH, sometimes outfielder, Stewart can add value for the ‘24 club.