Mets Third Base Dilemma
Simply put, third base was the biggest hole the New York Mets had this offseason, and they did nothing to address it. Now, they’re scrambling.
The incumbent, J.D. Davis, is the worst defensive player in baseball. Not hyperbole, his DRS is literally the worst since joining the Mets.
With the Mets not improving, they’re starting to sell he’s improved there. They even point to Francisco Lindor working with him. There are two problems to this.
First, it’s useless talking point we hear every Spring akin to “best shape of their life.” Second, Davis is still quite bad in the videos promoting his defense.
— David Lennon (@DPLennon) February 28, 2021
Really, he can’t play the position, and the Mets need to stop trying to make it work. The problem is if not Davis, then who?
Yes, the answer is literally anyone else on the team would be better, but that’s also not a good answer. One early talking point is the idea of a Davis platoon with the left-handed hitting Jonathan Villar.
Villar, too, is a bad defender. Over the last two years, he has a -12 DRS in the middle of the infield. The counter-argument is third may be an easier position to play and a better fit for him.
However, that point ignores the disaster Jose Reyes was at third. Players in defensive decline just don’t automatically stem the tide and thrive at third. That’s an important consideration for a player in Villar who hasn’t played there since 2016. In that year, he played 346.2 innings there and had a -5 DRS.
So, looking at it, we return to Jeff McNeil, a player who has actually been the Opening Day starter there the last two seasons. He also has a career 5 DRS and 3 OAA there in his career.
Yes, he had a tough stretch there last year, and he had a tough Spring Training game. Even with that, he’s still been FAR SUPERIOR than the players who are under consideration for third. If you couple that with the ability to put Luis Guillorme and his Gold Glove caliber defense at second, it’s hard to argue there’s a better option.
The only problem is the Mets seem to be reluctant to both put McNeil at third and to play Guillorme everyday. It’s a bizarre thought process with zero sound reasoning given the construction of this roster.
Whatever the case, this is how the Mets built their team. It’s imperative they put their best players on the field in the best position to succeed and help the pitching staff who induces a lot of grounders.
Short of the Mets making that trade for a third baseman, they’re stuck trying to figure out a dilemma they failed to address this offseason. Rather than push sunk costs, lost cases, and poor thought processes, they need to do what helps them win in 2021.