Kevin Pillar Made Mistake Declining His Option

In a surprise, Kevin Pillar is a free agent. While it was reasonable to presume the New York Mets would decline his option, it was a complete shock Pillar declined his.

Pillar will be 33 on Opening Day next season. He’s coming off a year where he had a career worst 0.5 WAR (for a full season). That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Pillar has been at an 88 OPS+ in the last two full seasons. This is a slight dip from his career best in 2015 when he was still below league average. In fact, Pillar has never been above league average in any full season.

That was acceptable when defense was his calling card. It’s really not that case anymore. Aside from 2016, when he was an astounding 11 OAA, he’s been between a 1 to -2 OAA in the outfield.

That’s not to suggest he’s bad. He’s not. Rather, he’s an average fielder who is a below average bat. That makes him a rotation, platoon, or bench player. He’s not a starter.

Judging from Baseball Savant, Pillar has issues. He’s not driving the ball, and his contact rate is in decline. Same goes for his eye. His speed remains good, but that’s also been slipping.

That’s the biggest issue with Pillar. He appears to be a player in decline. He had a safety net with the Mets with a fair $2.9 million option. With that one year, he had an opportunity to re-establish value.

Pillar passed.

While betting on himself is admirable, it might be misguided. It’s highly unlikely he finds a starting job. After all, he was offered a part-time role with the Mets after a decent 2020.

This leaves him again seeking out a bench role. Maybe he finds it without needing to resort to a non-roster invite. Maybe he even finds a team who can provide a decent role, albeit likely not one with as much playing time as the Mets could’ve offered.

Overall, Pillar either bet on himself or got out of a place he no longer wanted to play. He gambled he’d get a better role, salary, and/or chance to win. At this moment, it’s difficult to see that happening, which is why Pillar should’ve stayed with the Mets.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Overcome Diamondbacks And Bob Brenly Ignorance

The New York Mets went to the desert, and it was the Arizona Diamondbacks who came up dry. While the Diamondbacks did push the Mets, the Mets took this series:

1. The fact Bob Brenly is still employed after what he said about Marcus Stroman is an embarrassment to the Diamondbacks and Major League Baseball. Seriously, why hasn’t Rob Manfred stepped in here?

2. Brenly should forever keep Tom Seaver‘s name out of his mouth. He should not be sullying the name of a great man and best right handed pitcher in the post World War II era.

3. Luis Rojas going to the well with Trevor May was really bizarre. May has been struggling, and he was very fatigued.

4. Holding back Seth Lugo from a save opportunity when you’ve already used Edwin Diaz and Miguel Castro because you want to ease him back from his injury is all well and good. However, you just can’t follow that up by trying to throw him two innings in his first appearance back. That’s a contradictory and dumb position.

5. Diaz is just a different pitcher than he has ever been. He’s able to go back-to-back days now with no issue. He’s shaking off blown saves. He’s having consecutive good years. There is not enough superlatives you can throw his way right now. He really deserves credit for how much he’s improved.

6. On that note, Jeurys Familia resurrecting his career has been perhaps the biggest key to this bullpen being this good.

7. It looks like that stint at first base was great for James McCann. He’s continued hitting well, and as we’re seeing, he seems to thrive on the platoon role. Fortunately for the Mets, Tomas Nido has taken his game to a new level to make this a tenable plan.

8. Between McCann hitting again and Francisco Lindor having figured things out, perhaps we can stop passing judgments on two months. Clearly, these two needed to settle into a new city with a new coaching staff. And yes, it helps them and everyone that the team replaced Chili Davis.

9. For those who haven’t noticed, Lindor is a truly great player. Look at what he’s doing. He’s top five in the majors in OAA, and over the past month, he has a .758 OPS. Remember, that includes a period when he was in a deep slump. By September, we’re all going to laugh at the panic some people showed over his start.

10. This team is clicking with the return of Pete Alonso. His presence in the lineup seems to have taken pressure off of everyone, and frankly, it helps that he returned to the lineup in peak Alonso form.

11. There is no one tougher than Kevin Pillar. Not only did he return from that fastball to the face and surgery to replace multiple facial fractures, but he’s picked right up where he left off.

12. The Mets have had a number of injuries, but if the hamstring lingers, none might be more impactful than Jonathan Villar. Villar has been able to hold down third base with all the injuries, and while his numbers and propensity to get picked off leave something to be desired, he does find a way to have an impact on games. The Mets are going to miss him.

13. The J.D. Davis injury is getting increasingly worrisome. It seems like he just has set back after set back. You really just have to wonder if the Mets are really missing a significant injury here.

14. The fact the Mets have a 4.5 game lead over the Atlanta Braves, the largest in baseball, is impressive. The fact the Mets have that lead allows them to hold their cards and wait for Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo to return at their own pace. Of course, the pitching being so dominant allows that as well.

15. At some point, Jacob deGrom gets a no-hitter, right? Sure, Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux didn’t, but you have to believe deGrom eventually gets one.

16. Because baseball is stupid, you have to guess Joey Lucchesi or David Peterson gets one before deGrom even though neither pitcher really belongs in the starting rotation right now. Injuries have really helped keep them here.

17. The Mets really need to decide if they want Peterson to be Mike Pelfrey, or if they want to try to give someone else a shot while he goes to Syracuse to develop like he needs.

18. For those saying the Mets need Pelfrey, the team can certainly figure it out. After all, they have Lugo, Robert Gsellman, and Sean Reid-Foley who can give you multiple innings consistently out of the bullpen. They also have Jerad Eickhoff, Corey Oswalt, and Thomas Szapucki to plug into the rotation. Really, there are options, and they need to do something.

19. Speaking of Gsellman, those 3.2 innings were phenomenal, and it speaks to his being back to being the pitcher the Mets thought he was when he was first called up in 2016.

20. May was right. That game winning hit by Josh Reddick was foul. Really, this just highlights the absurdity of the replay system where there aren’t cameras down the lines to ensure we get calls like that absolutely correct. Then again, this is baseball under Manfred, so why should we expect any different?

 

GAME RECAPS

Jacob deGrom Nearly Perfect

Mets Blow It Against Diamondbacks

David Peterson Should Be Demoted to Syracuse

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Sweep Braves?

With the weather, the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves only played one game of the weekend series. With the Mets winning, they swept all the games they did play:

1. You just can’t beat the Mets at Citi Field. So far, they’re 15-5, and that’s even with a Triple-A roster.

2. The Braves are an incredibly flawed team, and there’s only so much Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña can do.

3. The Mets are starting to get healthy with Taijuan Walker back. They also have Seth Lugo and Pete Alonso ready to be activated any day now.

4. Lugo presents an interesting dilemma for the Mets as they robbed Peter to pay Paul by opening up roster spots. Lugo coming off the 60 day IL means someone has to come off the 40 man roster.

5. In past years, the Mets really didn’t have enough players for an everyday lineup, and now, we’re worrying about the backups to the backups. Things really are different.

6. Walker picked right up where he left off, which is to say, he was very good.

7. Mets were cautious with both Walker and Jacob deGrom in their returns from the IL. Again, it’s nice to see things are different around here.

8. One of the biggest changes we see are rain outs. Steve Cohen is making the calls sooner preventing fans from having to unnecessarily make the trek.

9. A side point here is we’ve seen Mets players get injured and seasons get turned sideways with players playing in poor conditions as the Wilpons push to get another gate.

10. James McCann needs to be commended. He got pushed to first due to his own play, Tomas Nido‘s play, and injuries. He responded to the challenge by playing great.

11. Seeing McCann at first, and seeing his bat come alive again, you do wonder if he can play third. After all, it is a shift Todd Zeile (permanently) and Gary Carter (as a sub) have successfully made.

12. Seeing how McCann has played of late, there’s nothing wrong with the McCann/Nido platoon. In fact, it’s a good plan to get the most out of them and the starters.

13. Its a very small sample size, but Billy McKinney looks really good. He could well be someone who more than adequately fills in that 4th/5th OF role.

14. It’ll be something people overlook when they talk about how disappointing Dominic Smith has been, and he has, but he’s been playing hurt at a time when the Mets needed him.

15. Maybe it’s due to overwork, regression to the mean, or something else, but Miguel Castro is starting to look like the enigma he was with the Baltimore Orioles again.

16. Jason Bay got a much longer leash than Francisco Lindor has when it’s come to the booing.

17. On Lindor, this team is winning with pitching and defense, and he’s on the forefront of that. It’s something to remember when the Mets are healthy and debating putting in the full can’t field lineup.

18. By every objective measure, Jonathan Villar has been a below average player, but man, he finds a way to make an impact on a game.

19. The fact Kevin Pillar is going to be one of the first players back is a minor miracle given the injury he suffered and a testament to how tough he is.

20. The May games are over, and the Mets are in first place. They have the largest division lead while they’re getting healthy. Let’s hope this is enough to stave off the usual June swoon.

Mets Lost Faith In Jeff McNeil Again

If we hearken back to the 2018 season, the New York Mets were languishing, and Todd Frazier landed on the IL for the first time in his career. Jose Reyes was just flat out terrible, Wilmer Flores was at first, and David Wright, well, he wasn’t an option. Down in Double-A Binghamton, Jeff McNeil was flat out raking. He just kept hitting and hitting and hitting.

The answer seemed obvious to everyone. Everyone, that is, except Sandy Alderson and the New York Mets. When pressed on calling up McNeil to play third base, the answer was McNeil was a second baseman only. Of course, the irony there was McNeil was the Binghamton Rumble Ponies Opening Day third baseman.

Back then, it was difficult to ascertain how much of personnel decisions were driven by Jeff Wilpon, whomever Wilpon decided to listen on any given day, or Alderson. Whatever the case, McNeil would eventually get the call-up, prove himself, and he would go on to have an All-Star season in 2019.

Since 2019, things have gone quite uneven for McNeil as it has for the rest of us. In the end, what we do know with McNeil is he is an exceptionally gifted contact hitter, and he is a fiery player who you could trust defensively at four different positions.

According to Baseball Savant, McNeil has a career 3 OAA at second, 3 OAA at third, and -1 OAA in left field. DRS has a much better picture with McNeil having a 5 DRS at second, 6 DRS at third, and a 3 DRS in left field. All told, McNeil is not a Gold Glove, but he is a very solid defender at multiple positions.

As noted, McNeil could hit. Entering this season, McNeil had a 139 wRC+. Since his debut, he has been the 13th best hitter in the majors, and he trailed only Brandon Nimmo among Mets players. All told, McNeil has established himself as a very good, versatile, and valuable Major League player. Despite that, we are seemingly back at square one with McNeil.

With the acquisition of Francisco Lindor, and his preference to hit near the top of the lineup, McNeil was dropped from the top two spots, where he thrived, to sixth and seventh in the lineup. Perhaps it was the drop in the lineup, the new baseball, the delay to the season, the typical influence Chili Davis has on his teams, the pandemic, or just the normal ebbs and flows of the season, but McNeil has struggled.

The thing is, he didn’t quite struggle right away. In fact, to start the season, McNeil was tattooing the ball. Unfortunately, he was not getting any luck. Balls he normally hit for singles and doubles weren’t falling in anymore. The Mets reaction to that was to sit him after the Mets first two games of the season.

That has become an emerging pattern for McNeil. So far, the Mets have played 17 games, and McNeil has only started in 14 of them. The only projected starter who has started in fewer games is J.D. Davis, but that was only because Davis landed on the IL after getting hit by a pitch early in the season.

Davis is somewhat illustrative of the problem here. Davis has again been a nightmare defensively. He’s already a -2 DRS and a -1 OAA at third. He made errors directly impacting his team and leading Taijuan Walker and David Peterson to have shorter starts. The end result was just one game off, where he still appeared as a pinch hitter, and he was put right back in the lineup.

For some reason, Davis is able to work through his problems despite them not being fixable. For McNeil, this is very clearly a blip, but he keeps getting relegated to the bench. Instead of getting to see more pitches and get into a rhythms, the Mets are doing to the opposite. In fact, they’re just setting him up to continue to struggle.

Perhaps, this is just Alderson resting back on previous biases towards players from his first stint with the Mets. Taking a broader look, Dominic Smith has had some similar struggles getting into the lineup. In fact, the Mets have begun using him as a platoon bat. That’s despite him being one of the Mets best hitters against left-handed pitching.

To some extent, McNeil is also being used as a platoon player. For example, he was also not in the lineup against Patrick Corbin. More likely, McNeil is just being punished for struggling. For some reason, he is not going to be permitted to struggle and figure things out at the plate while others can go out there being butchers in the field costing the Mets games.

Make no mistake, how the Mets are handling McNeil is a very big problem. They are taking one of their best players, and they are crossing him up further. They are not putting him in a position to succeed in terms of where he hits in the lineup and in terms of getting to play enough to get into a rhythm and figure things out. Whatever the reason for the McNeil benchings, they have to stop, and they have to stop now.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Finally Lose Opening Series

After the opening series against the Washington Nationals was canceled due to COVID19, the New York Mets finally played their first series of the season. They should’ve taken the series, but didn’t;

1. That was your typical Jacob deGrom start. He’s dominant. The Mets don’t score. The bullpen blows it.

2. Much was made of deGrom coming out after six. People overlook deGrom being part of and agreeing with the decision. He had a long layoff, and it’s going to be tricky getting everyone through the season.

3. James McCann was a mixed bag. He called a great game, and he was great framing it. However, he did let some balls get behind him, and he did a Wilson Ramos impersonation on Luis Guillorme‘s throw.

4. With J.D. Davis being down, Guillorme and Jonathan Villar may get a chance to prove they should play everyday. So far, they’re making a good case.

5. Pete Alonso looks like a man on a mission. He’s completely locked in at the plate, and his defense has never looked better. He could be on the verge of an MVP type season.

6. It was actually surprising to see his ball didn’t go out on Tuesday night. Last year and the year before those balls might’ve been 20 rows deep. Instead, that ball died at the wall. That may be a real sign the ball isn’t traveling like it did in prior years.

7. The Mets were down because the bullpen hasn’t been great so far.

8. Trevor May has struggled in both games, but it was good to see him come into the second game, fight it, and get out of the inning unscathed. That and his taking ownership of his poor performance is an indication he is going to be just fine in New York.

9. The Aaron Loup signing was curious, especially given the three batter rule. We saw just how that can help a team implode. After he plunked Bryce Harper, he was facing J.T. Realmuto. It should come as no surprise that inning got out of control.

10. There were some good signs out of Jeurys Familia and Miguel Castro. Overall, with Edwin Diaz not getting into a game, the Mets best reliever in the series was Joey Lucchesi, who is also their fifth starter.

11. There could be some questions as to how Luis Rojas managed these games, but it is first important to remember he is not the one who fills out the lineup card. Some of his decisions are also very defensible like leaving in Kevin Pillar in the fourth inning of a game where the Mets had deGrom on the mound and had a 2-0 lead.

12. The fact the Mets would not bat Brandon Nimmo atop the lineup is beyond crazy. Even with a left-handed pitcher on the mound, it’s crazy. In fact, Nimmo has been the Mets best hitter against left-handed pitchers the last two years. The second best? Dominic Smith.

13. Dominic Smith isn’t a platoon player, and he shouldn’t be treated as such. He showed that on his first at-bat of the season.

14. Jeff McNeil has hit the ball with real authority so far this season. It was probably a good idea to get him a mental break ahead of coming to New York.

15. On that note, we are likely going to see a number of players miss some unexpected games here and there as they get vaccinated and deal with the side effects. Well, everyone except Davis.

16. Marcus Stroman was great on the mound, and he not only looks like an All-Star with that new forkball, but he could be a very real contender for the Cy Young this season.

17. Francisco Lindor has been everything as advertised so far this season. His defense has been great. He is giving good at-bats. He was a real leader talking to David Peterson after a rough outing. The Mets are very lucky to have him around for the next decade.

18. The long layoff was probably a factor, but Peterson showed he probably needs more time in Triple-A, which is fine. It would’ve been better to put Jordan Yamamoto in the rotation to start the season. That goes double when the Mets could have skipped the fifth starter, which they are.

19. Michael Conforto struggled with runners on base during this series, so naturally people are going overboard in their reaction. Fact is, Conforto is still a .271/.393/.512 hitter with runners in scoring position in his career. He’s going to be fine, and the Mets should still be pushing to sign him to an extension to make him a Met for life.

20. The Mets were put at a disadvantage not playing the Nationals series, and the Atlanta Braves got to fact that decimated Nationals team. Mets showed some rust, but this is still a very good team. They’re now in the flow of things, and we should look for them to have a good first homestand of the season.d

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.

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.

Making Sense Of Mets Signing Kevin Pillar

When you look at the New York Mets 40 man roster, Albert Almora was probably the only player you trusted playing center field. Unfortunately, even with his success working with Chili Davis in the past, he really didn’t have a sufficiently good enough bat to stick in the lineup. That made Almora good depth, especially with his having a minor league option.

It appears Almora is going to use that option this year with the Mets signing Kevin Pillar.

Pillar, 32, used to be one of the best defensive center fielders in the game even if he didn’t have the Gold Gloves to show for it. In fact, from 2015 – 2017, Pillar only trailed Kevin Kiermaier in terms of DRS among center fielders. He had accumulated the sixth highest WAR among all Major Leaguers during this stretch.

After that, Pillar’s defense took a nosedive. From 2018 – 2020, Pillar has a -14 DRS. Essentially, he transitioned from Gold Glove caliber to a player who needs to move to a corner outfield position. To be fair, OAA has painted a slightly different picture with Pillar posting a -1 OAA over that stretch.

Regardless of whether you trust DRS or OAA, it should be clear Pillar’s days of being a defensive replacement are all but over. He no longer has the glove to be that late inning defensive replacement, and truth be told, Brandon Nimmo has posted not too different defensive numbers. In fact, over the last three years, Nimmo has a -11 DRS and -2 OAA albeit in fewer innings.

Looking at it that way, you could question what role Pillar would play. To that end, the answer very clearly could be as a platoon bat. In fact, over the past three years, Pillar has a 105 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. Over the past two years, that number is a 119 wRC+.

Of course, the problem is that’s not necessarily an upgrade for the Mets. Over the past three years, Michael Conforto has a 112 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. Nimmo has a 126, and Dominic Smith has a 128. That makes all three of the projected Mets Opening Day outfield as better hitters against left-handed pitching.

That said, Pillar is still a better option that players like Almora, Guillermo Heredia, and Mallex Smith. You can trust Pillar a lot more defensively than Jose Martinez. Really, when you break it down, Pillar provides good depth at all three outfield positions, and he gives the Mets some late inning pinch hitting and double switch opportunities.

Pillar is also a solid hedge against injuries. On that front, teams are going from 60 games to 162. There is likely going to be more attrition than we see over the course of a typical season. We will likely see some more injuries, and we almost assuredly going to see players need to take off more days than they usually would.

Undoubtedly, Pillar has improved the Mets depth. He’s a player you can trust in the starting lineup for extended stretches, and he pushes Almora to the minors. He is a late inning defensive replacement for a team starting a first baseman in left field, and he is a good pinch hitting option against left-handed pitching. All told, while not awe inspiring, this is a move which makes sense and makes the Mets better.

 

 

Todd Frazier Worth A Minor League Deal

When you look to build a roster, your bench should be reflective of what you are missing from your everyday players. For the New York Mets as constructed, they are missing a good defender at third, and they have a heavy left-handed hitting lineup. Ideally, a bench player for the Mets should be a strong defender at third, and it should be someone who can hit left-handed pitchers.

Like it or not, that describes Todd Frazier.

Since originally signing with the Mets, Frazier has been a 2 OAA for the Mets at third base and a 3 DRS overall. While this isn’t the plus defender he once was, Frazier remains a strong defender at the position, which puts him light years ahead of their incumbent third baseman J.D. Davis.

As a hitter, Frazier has not been the same player since he posted a 117 OPS+ in 2015. Over parts of the last three seasons with the Mets, Frazier had a below average 98 OPS+ with a 97 OPS+ overall. Looking behind those numbers on Baseball Savant, Frazier is a player with declining exit velocities and barrels.

All told, we see with Frazier he is a soon to be 35 year old baseball player. Before he signed with the Mets, he was a relative iron man. Since 2018, he has been nicked up here and there. With that also comes a player with years of experience who has been a leader in the clubhouse. In fact, when the Mets re-acquired him at the trade deadline last year, the Mets players were happy he was returning:

However, he does provide more value than just a good glove and a good guy in the clubhouse. While he has faltered against right-handed pitching, he continues to thrive against left-handed pitching. Since 2018, Frazier has a 95 wRC+ against right-handed pitching and a 105 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. That would make him a strong platoon option and late defensive replacement.

In his career, he he has been strong coming off the bench hitting .286/.389/.494 in 77 career games entering the game as substitute. With the Mets, we have also seen him have the penchant for a clutch late inning homer:

Looking at what Frazier has provided the Mets and his positive presence in the clubhouse, he is someone who merits consideration. Seeing what he could provide the team in 2021, he does deserve a closer look from this front office.

That said, he is still 35 and still in decline. Because of that, he really doesn’t merit anything beyond a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. If he performs well then, he should get a role on the Opening Day roster. If not, he can certainly go down to Syracuse as depth. That is, if he is willing to do so.

Overall, whether fans like it or not, Frazier could make a positive contribution to the Mets in 2021. However, that would only be in a very limited role, one which he has been unaccustomed for much of his career. All told, if he’s willing to accept a minor league deal to return and to stay closer to home like he wants, it is something that could be mutually beneficial to both sides.

Albert Amora Very Good Move For Mets

With the Mets signing of Albert Almora, it is important to understand what the signing is and is not. The signing wasn’t to find the Mets everyday center fielder. Rather, this was purely a signing for depth and defensive replacement purposes.

Almora, 26, is a defensive replacement for all three outfield positions. Since 2017, he has a 6 DRS and a 11 OAA. Most of those stats were accumulated during an outstanding defensive 2018. Past that season, he has been a slightly above average defensive centerfielder. For the Mets perspective, that makes him a significant upgrade defensively.

Offensively, Almora really isn’t a good player. Since 2014, he has declined precipitously at the plate. After posting a 104 wRC+ that season, he dropped all the way down to a 36 in 2020. That 36 wasn’t even fully attributable to the shortened and disjointed season. In fact, when the ball was juiced in 2019, Almora only mustered a 64 wRC+.

However, that doesn’t mean Almora is completely over-matched at the plate. In his career, he has been able to handle left-handed pitching. In his career, he has just an 85 wRC+ against right-handed pitching as opposed to a 95 against left-handed pitching. Perhaps, he can be more than that. In fact, we know he once was.

On Baseball Savant, we see Almora has been able to hit both fastballs and breaking pitches fairly well at different points in his career. However, he has not been able to do both in the same season. In fact, in 2020, he did neither. Still, that doesn’t mean he can never do it. That is something to keep in mind for a player entering his prime.

In many ways, that makes Almora akin to what Juan Lagares once was for the Mets. He’s a defensive replacement who can be a viable platoon partner when he is hitting well. Of course, the fair question is what can Almora possibly offer if he’s not hitting because as we know, if he’s not hitting, he’s not really a good enough hitter to justify taking up a roster spot.

On that front, Almora has an option remaining. That means, if he’s bad, the Mets  can demote him to Triple-A Syracuse. Keeping that in mind, that makes him outfield depth this organization did not have over the course of the past two seasons. Mostly, because of that, this makes signing Almora a relatively risk free move.

If Almora recaptures something, he could emerge as an important part of this Mets team. If not, he’s a good depth piece. Over the last two years, we saw Brodie Van Wagenen trade valuable prospects to try to plug this role. This offseason, the Mets did this by signing him to a free agent deal. It was a good deal at that as well. That is why, in the end, this was a very good move for the Mets. They acquired depth and fulfilled a need without having to part with much.

Kiké Hernandez Good Fit For Mets

As the New York Mets continue to build their roster, one area they need to address is depth a versatility. Case in point, Guillermo Heredia, a player with a career 84 wRC+ and -7 DRS in center is slated to be the team’s fourth outfielder.

There’s also J.D. Davis who can’t play a defensive position. That really leaves Luis Guillorme as the only real capable MLB utility player on the roster, and he’s just an infielder.

Looking at the free agent list, one name which really stands out is Enrique Hernandez. He’s a very versatile player who is a right-handed bat which can compliment a very heavy left-hand hitting Mets roster.

Hernandez has been a good to adequate defender across the diamond. In 2020, he played every position but third recording a 0 OAA at each position. In fact, he’s never been worse than a -3 OAA at any position in his career.

What really stands out is his good he’s been at second and center. At second, he has a career 2 OAA and an 18 DRS. In center, he has a career 4 OAA and 4 DRS. That also happens to be two big areas of need.

With center, Hernandez can be a late inning defensive replacement there. He can also be that at second for Jeff McNeil thereby allowing McNeil to move to third. Of course, this assumes the Mets don’t add new starters at these positions.

Even if they do, Hernandez can still serve as a defensive replacement. Moreover, with no DH in the NL, Hernandez is a strong option to double switch into games. Really, he plays seven defensive positions, and he’s quite good in the outfield and second.

On that note, Hernandez isn’t the strongest hitter. He has a career 99 wRC+. That’s been dragged down by consecutive sub 90 wRC+ seasons.

Still, Hernandez has traditionally hit left-handed pitchers well. Since 2015, he’s posted a 122 wRC+ against them. That’s one of the reasons Dave Roberts controversially started him against David Price in Game 5 of the 2018 World Series.

Whatever the impetus was for that decision, it’s apparent Hernandez can hit left-handed pitching, and he’s a good defender. With his versatility, he can platoon in center with Brandon Nimmo or with McNeil at second.

Hernandez is a player you can trust starting for small stretches in case of injury. He’s also accustomed to producing with irregular playing time. He can give you very good defense and hit left-handed pitching.

Overall, Hernandez just complements this Mets roster. He provides a balance to a team which is left-handed hitting friendly, and he’s a good defensive player across the diamond. As a result, the Mets should strongly consider him.