Mark Vientos Emerging As Mets Best DH Option
The New York Mets screwed up their DH position entering the season. Largely due to his contract, Robinson Cano was given the first crack, and he failed miserably. It led to his release, and notably, he’s now playing for the San Diego Padres Triple-A affiliate.
While the Mets were trying to get Cano going, Dominic Smith faltered. With the lack of at-bats, he never got going, and eventually, he was sent down to Triple-A.. He’s hitting now, but his doubters will use this to call him a Four-A player.
This has led to J.D. Davis “winning” the DH job, but not really. Since Smith was demoted, Davis has a 142 wRC+, but there are caveats there. That comes with a .423 BABIP, 1.11 GB/FB, softer than usual contact for him, and a 26.2% strikeout rate. This looks more like a hot streak than true talent level.
Per Baseball Savant, Davis’ Whiff% and K% is among the worst in baseball. He’s also been a poor base runner. Despite the exit velocities, he still only has two homers, and the Mets very noticeably did not start Davis at DH against the pitching rich Milwaukee Brewers. All told, it does seem the Mets are not sold with Davis as the permanent DH.
That could open the door for someone else, and noticeably, Mark Vientos is red-hot in Triple-A.
So far, Vientos has followed his professional career path. He was terrible over the first month of the season only to post a 1.050 OPS in May. He has followed that with a 1.264 OPS in June. This is no fluke. Vientos did the same exact thing in Double-A last season posting a 1.182 OPS and 1.008 OPS over the second and third months of the season last year.
Once Vientos turns it on, he’s locked in for the rest of the season. Right now, he is in one of his better stretches. He has a six game hitting streak with three multi-hit games. He has homered four times over his last three games, and he is hitting .285/.467/.846 over this stretch.
Mark Vientos has done it again!!!
Vientos has a home run in three consecutive games! This is his fourth home run in those three games!
— Syracuse Mets (@SyracuseMets) June 16, 2022
What you see with Vientos is as the season progresses, he proceeds to drive the ball more and get the ball in the air more. At the lower levels of the minors, he was a predominantly pull side hitter, but as time as progressed he has hit for power to all fields. He’s also developed much better pitch recognition skills, and he’s walking at his highest rate in full season affiliate minor league baseball.
That’s not to say there aren’t risks. Vientos still does strike out at a very high clip. So far this season, he’s at a career worst 31.6%, and there is justifiable concern that will worsen against Major League pitching. While he’s had a 1.103 OPS since May 1, he also has a 32.7% strike out rate. He has walked 9.9% of the time over this stretch.
Of course, Vientos does not have the same benefits as Major Leaguers do down in Triple-A. The Mets have more and better analytical data at their disposal with a coaching staff adept at disseminating the information. This has helped the Mets have the fourth best strikeout rate in the majors. That’s even with Davis having one of the worst.
Right now, the Mets are in an interesting spot. They don’t have any players they like to DH everyday. Their offense is taking a hit with Francisco Lindor‘s broken finger, and it is likely to take another hit with Starling Marte getting hit on the forearm. They seem to like Davis but not against good pitching. More than that, aside from Pete Alonso this is a team without another real power threat at the moment.
This could lead to the Mets looking to trade for a DH at the trade deadline, and Steve Cohen has said he will spend to do it. However, before it gets to that point, it would behoove the Mets to take a look at Vientos. He is flat out mashing in Syracuse, and if his minor league history is any indicator, he will mash the rest of the season.
Vientos is earning the call-up, is on the 40 man roster, and he fills a need for the Mets. It is time to give him a chance. If nothing else, the Mets will know just how much DH is a real trade deadline issue.