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Mark Canha enters second year with Mets as a dependable left fielder

Canha’s first season in Queens was a success.

New York Mets v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Coming off a very good first season with the Mets, outfielder Mark Canha heads into the 2023 season with an everyday role as one of many good major league hitters in the team’s projected lineup.

Signed last offseason to a two-year deal with an option for a third year, it already seems like there’s a good chance that the Mets will pick up the option on Canha, as the team doesn’t exactly have a bunch of outfield prospects ready to make a major league impact in the immediate future.

Last year, Canha hit .266/.367/.403 with 13 home runs and a 128 wRC+ in 542 plate appearances for the Mets while spending the vast majority of his time in the field in left field. He did, however, make a handful of appearances in center and right field along the way. Tally up his overall game, and he was worth 2.8 fWAR and 2.5 bWAR.

Given his ability to get on base at a very good clip, Canha could make sense at or near the top of a lineup on most major league teams. But with teammates Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil also very capable of getting on base, Canha will almost certainly spend most of his time lower in the Mets’ lineup. Last year, the plurality of his plate appearances came in the seventh spot, with the sixth spot a very close second. On days that his OBP-heavy teammates are injured or getting a day off, though, he could get reps in the leadoff or second spot in the Mets’ lineup.

Like Canha, new fourth outfielder Tommy Pham is a right-handed hitter who played left field in 2022, but it seems pretty clear that Canha, Brandon Nimmo, and Starling Marte will be the team’s starting outfielders the overwhelming majority of the time. Should any injuries—like Marte’s recovery from core muscle surgery to start this season—arise, Canha’s recent experience at all three outfield positions likely makes him the outfielder who will be asked to slide over to another position when Pham starts in left.

Left field hasn’t been the position that the Mets have had the most difficult time filling in recent years, but it wasn’t long ago that J.D. Davis and Dom Smith were asked to play the position. Having a steady player out there, even if his defense leans more toward capable than good, is a good thing, especially when Canha ranked third in baseball among qualified left fielders in wRC+ last year.