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How DH Hurts Mets

Since Brodie Van Wagenen began assembling his team, the overture was this was a team well built for the DH. In 2020, because of a pandemic, the Mets actually did get that DH. After all that hypothesizing about how much it would help the Mets, the end result was a last place finish.

There are many reasons why, and assuredly many would point to the pitching. However, it went much deeper than that. One of the big issues was team defense.

Again, the Mets team defense was atrocious with a -22 DRS. That was good for fifth worst in the majors. Over the past three seasons, the Mets -171 DRS is the worst in the National League and second worst in all of the majors.

This is in large part to an organizational philosophy which pre-dated Van Wagenen. The thought was to acquire as many bats as possible and to find a position for them. The Mets have been all too happy to get players and just stick them somewhere on the diamond.

This has led to J.D. Davis at third and left. Dominic Smith in left field. Brandon Nimmo in center. Michael Conforto playing all three outfield positions. Jeff McNeil playing four different positions. This goes on and on, and in some ways you can trace this tomfoolery all the way back to Lucas Duda playing the outfield.

Perhaps part of this has been the result of Jeff Wilpon running the baseball operations. That said, there has been a prevailing thought process with the Mets to not make the difficult decisions and to hold onto all of their good players. They have found it more prudent to play players out of position resulting in horrible defense, and as a result, the team failing to live up to their sometimes lofty expectations.

Now, taking a look at the Mets current roster, you can say Smith at first base and Pete Alonso at DH is an embarrassment of riches. In Alonso and Smith, the Mets have two cornerstone cost controlled players. As an organization, this is quite an enviable position. When you have those two spots with such high caliber and ceiling players, you don’t want to move on from them. That goes double when you can play them each everyday at first base and DH.

However, that is part of the problem.

While the Mets are set at first and DH, they are a disaster at other important positions. They don’t have a starting catcher, and really, their depth at the position is a question mark. They have no one really capable of playing third base on an everyday basis. They lack anyone in the organization truly capable of playing center everyday. The Mets desperately need at least 2/5 of a starting rotation filled, and they also need to build a bullpen.

Beyond that, the Mets have zero depth at Triple-A, and their Double-A depth is questionable. Put another way, the Mets are a mess, and even with Steve Cohen’s deep pockets, not every one of these areas can be addressed in free agency. It just can’t.

No, the Mets need to be put in a difficult position to have to make hard decisions. Frankly, the trade market sets up extraordinarily well for that right now. At the moment, we know Nolan Arenado, Francisco Lindor, and Blake Snell on the trade bloc. There are very likely other high profile players there for the taking as well.

Given how Van Wagenen ravaged the Mets farm system, there really isn’t the prospect capital to make those trades. Sure, you can trade a Brett Baty or a Mark Vientos, but if you do that, you take the paper thin depth you have and tear through it leaving you with next to no hope for the future. No, if the Mets are going to take that next step, they are going to have to take the surplus they have at positions like first, and they are going to have to make hard choices and make shrewd trades for top end talent at areas they have significant deficiencies.

If there is no DH, the Mets would almost be forced to move at least one of Alonso or Smith to get that top end player. However, with the DH, the impetus is not there. In fact, you could argue it irresponsible to not go into next season with both Alonso and Smith if there was a DH. As noted, therein lies the problem.

The Mets aren’t really in a position to trade top end talent for top end talent in a world where there is a DH. But, if they want real baseball in the National League in 2021, the Mets would be in prime position to do it, and teams would likely line up to grab one of Alonso or Smith thereby driving up the return the Mets could receive.

So yes, given the roster construct, you could argue the Mets are better with the DH. However, in terms of building the roster, the DH stagnates growth and creativity. The impetus to make a trade is gone, and with that, you likely lose out on the ability to make the Mets the best possible team they could be in 2021.

And besides all of that, the DH is bad for the Mets because it is bad for baseball. The short-sighted hope for 2021 needs to be counter-balanced against the next 10-100 years. When you look at it that way, pushing for a completely ineffective gimmick is just plain bad for baseball, and as a result, bad for the Mets.

9 thoughts on “How DH Hurts Mets”

  1. Oldbackstop says:

    Alonso/Smith would be the best young 1b/DH combo in baseball. Of course the DH will be good for us. Otherwise you wind up playing subpar globe Alonso at first and subpar Dom in left. With the DH plus 1b glove Dom can improve defense at first ober Alonso, who can DH with the occasional start at first.

    We missed the tournament this year due to pitching. Period. Had we gotten in with deGrom, Thor, Marcus Strovid, and Peterson we could have gone far.Wacha would have been cut and Porcello could have been a spot starter or an innings burner in mop ups.

    You continously harp on defense without realizing that the problem was largely addressed in the course of the season. Gimenez took over for Rosario, JD took over for McNeil at third, McNeil anchored left as an upgrade. If we had started Nido we would have upgraded catcher and if we had a healthy Marisnick we would have had a plus glove in center. Is Cano a GGer anymore? No, but when a guy has a 1.000 OPS you take it. Did JD have a good year after being plugged in at third when McNeil imploded? No, but he got better and will improve next year if he isn’t traded. PS: we are all sick of your JD hate mancrush. Consider McNeil at third, if you will (you won’t)….JD was the best option, even after practicing all year in left. How come you never mention McNeil disastrous third base 2020?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Stop. JD was terrible all year, and I’ll note if you want to say the Mets missed due to pitching, you’re supporting my argument

  2. Oldbackstop says:

    Opening Day defense:

    C Ramos
    1b Alonso
    2b Cano
    3b McNeil
    SS Rosario
    LF JD
    CF Nimmo
    RF Conforto

    While some of those guys may have still gotten starts, in crucial periods we were able to put Nido at C, Dom at 1b, Guillorme at second, Gimenez at SS, maybe Guillorme at third, McNeil in LF. I forget the guys name, but we brought in a decent CF glove in after Hamilton ran himself out of town, right?

    That is a dramatically better defense, probably above average.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Then why was the Mets defense fifth worst?

  3. oldbackstop says:

    Ok, I’ll talk slowly and in small words. Lets just talk errors since they are easier to chart the timeline. If you can break down RDRS or SNARF or WOOF by month, go for it.

    The Mets started poorly, and made adjustments and their defense improved.

    The Mets leader in errors was Jeff McNeil. He had five. He was playing third base, and errors are inevitable….Brooks Robinson won 14 Gold Gloves in a row, but had 21 errors one year, averaging one every 6 games..

    The problem was McNeil’s five errors came in the first seven games of the year, and McNeil had a fielding percentage of….gulp…..,856. After nine starts there he was pulled from the third base job and never played another there again. He moved to the outfield and didn’t have another error for the rest of the year.

    The problem for the Mets defensive stats was….in those seven games at 3rd base, McNeil tallied 15 percent of the teams errors for the year. One position in seven games! Sure, Brooks tallied one every six games, but McNeil was making one every 1.4 games! JD Davis, who had practiced all winter for leftfield, was forced to swap positions with McNeil. JD didn’t make an error for two weeks and wound up with only three at the end of the year, or one every 11 games, which would have made Brooks Robinson jealous at least one year. JD wound up with a fielding percentage at third of ,958, very respectable given he was forced into the role to stem a disaster for the team. The league fielding percentage for third base was .954, by the way, so JD outperformed the average third baseman by a tad there.

    Let’s consider shortstop, where a struggling Amed Rosario was going along at a negative 11 on rdrs/year. But Gimenez, a slicker glove who only have nine starts scattered in July and August, moved into the full time role, and his rdrs/yr was 35! So big improvement as year went on.

    First base was similar. Early on, Alonso had the lion’s share of starts there. Then Dom Sith, acknowledged as a slicker glove, took over there, playing in 23 games in September.

    Get the gist?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Before you start talking condescendingly, it would first help if you actually showed the ability to understand what was written.

      1. Oldbackstop says:

        Lol…..you repeat that like you have heard it since childhood.

        The team had changes at six positions from the beginning of year to the end. Now Cano is out. Citing seasonal defensive stats in anticipation of 2021 is just incredibly….

        ……you. it’s incredibly you. Carry on.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          You see the defense will improve because, well, Cano who was actually good last year is gone, an and well, I’m sure there’s something else.

          Like, Nimmo in CF and JD playing somewhere has to work because it can’t possibly keep failing. Oh, and we are going to have to put a 1B in LF. That’ll work too.

          1. Oldbackstop says:

            JD saved third base after McNeil faceplanted.

            Your article is against the DH but your comment just pointed out that we would have to start a first baseman, Dom, in left without it. I would guess we might be the NL team to MOST benefite from the DH, specifically due to Alonso/Dom

            No?

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