— SNY (@SNYtv) March 8, 2021
When you see plays like this and all the plays Guillorme can make, there should be no doubt about playing him everyday. Not only is Guillorme a real asset with his defense, he’s also a difference maker.
At least defensively, Guillorme and Lindor would combine to be one of, if not the best middle infields in all of baseball. That would be of vital importance to a Mets pitching staff who generates a large number of ground balls.
On that front, it’s important to note Pete Alonso is a bad first baseman. His -7 DRS since his MLB debut is the second worst. His -9 OAA is one of the worst too. Having Guillorme at second would help offset that.
He’d do that much better than Jeff McNeil. McNeil is good at second with a 1 DRS. He’s just not on Guillorme’s par. That’s not a slight to McNeil in the least, but rather, an acknowledgment of just how good Guillorme is defensively.
Keep in mind, Guillorme is not just a glove. He can hit too.
No, Guillorme is not a 30 home run hitter. He’s not even half that. Still, in big moments, he can hit one out:
Guillorme has seen his wRC+ increase in each one of his MLB seasons. Part of the reason is he’s been steadily increasing. He projects to be a near league average. That’s more than alright for an eighth place hitter with his glove.
That goes double when the Mets are already sacrificing defense at first, third, left, and center. A player in just for defense makes more than enough sense for a team shoe-horning in bats and has a ground ball staff.
All told, Guillorme is an excellent defender who can hit. He’s going to offset Alonso’s defense on the right side while creating a dynamic double play duo with Lindor.
All told, Guillorme is exactly what the Mets need at second, and he’s a better all strong player than he gets credit. As such, he should be put in the Opening Day lineup and on each of the ensuing games.
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.
If you had the opportunity to watch the Spring Training matchup between the New York Mets and Washington Nationals, we’ll have to assume you were in Port St. Lucie. That assumption was made because not much of the game was actually televised.
Obviously, that’s an exaggeration. Alliteration was made here because ESPN made a very concerted effort to conduct a number of interviews rather than focus on the game action.
That was a theme throughout the game. The announcers mostly did interviews. For the Mets, perhaps the most notable was Sandy Alderson, who was audibly frustrated while Jeurys Familia was struggling.
That was the obvious intention of the broadcast. They were talking baseball, and they were giving both teams an opportunity to introduce themselves to the viewers.
For their part, managers Luis Rojas and Dave Martinez were insightful. In terms of Rojas, his talking about how Francisco Lindor is not only a leader but also a teacher gave us a unique and fascinating look at the Mets new superstar.
There was also sentimental discussion about the legends who passed including Hank Aaron and Tom Seaver. Touching moments included Eduardo Perez talking about Joe Morgan, and Tim Kurkjian talking about Shannon Forde.
Again, not much discussion about the game. It did happen, but not really. If this was a regular season game, it would’ve been really annoying. However, even with issues ESPN has with their telecasts, this wasn’t a regular season game.
This was a Spring Training game. Much like they did last year, ESPN used it as an opportunity to help showcase personalities to help grow the game. It was EXTREMELY effective last year with it being the first step in Dominic Smith becoming not just a fan favorite, but also his becoming a more prominent player.
If you want to pick nits, the only people tuning into these games are the diehards who want to see the players. Still, there are others who throw it on just to watch something, and a telecast like this introduced them to some of the best players in the game.
For many, this broadcast didn’t work, and that’s fine. What matters is ESPN tried something to try to grow the game, and attempts like that is a good thing. We need more of that, and Spring Training is the perfect time to try that.
Overall, this worked last year, but it didn’t really work this year. Let’s see how it works in 2022 and beyond. More importantly, let’s see if this can help grow the game because at the end of the day, that’s what they’re trying to do.
When a really good NBA prospect is drafted, the question is which sneaker company is going to sign him. Invariably, it is Nike, and we see the shoe company put out new designs for those players. Inevitably, that leads to a rush of purchases for those exclusive sneakers, and it does lead to that players’ profile being raised even higher.
For other sports, this doesn’t work quite as well. While NBA players wear sneakers, which people, especially children, can wear everyday, you can’t wear cleats or skates on an everyday basis. So, to that end, other sports need to find a way to better market players and their equipment. If you look towards Marcus Stroman and Francisco Lindor, the answer to that might just be baseball mitts.
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) March 3, 2021
— New York Mets (@Mets) March 1, 2021
It used to be baseball mitts were basically two to three colors. There was the tan, the brown, and the black. Now, we are starting to see many more colors on the field as players begin to express their personality more. It is not just through the bat flips and celebrations. It is increasingly by what they wear when they take the field.
When it comes to fans, they love this, and when it comes to kids, they want to be just like their favorite players. That’s why they want to wear their favorite players jerseys and shirseys. If there was a special mitt out there, they may well go out there and try to get their parents to buy that too.
Yes, many players have their signature in baseball mitts. If you go to Dicks right now, you can go get your Mike Trout baseball mitt. It is just like the mitts they had 30 years ago where the only real defining characteristic was the signature. If you are Rawlings or another company, you could go out and change that.
Every year, you could have a release of the new fashion designed mitts for their top MLB players. They can make specially designed mitts for each player, and they could send that out to the market. For children, who need a new glove every few years (if not more), this could lead them to try to get a new one each year. The same could be said for older players who need to replace them more for wear or tear reasons.
This could very well be a unique opportunity for baseball companies to market MLB players. They could have a release during Spring Training or at some point during the offseason. Will it reach the height of the sneaker releases, no, but it doesn’t have to reach those levels. Rather, all they need to do is just raise the visibility of the product and the players.
If they can successfully pull this off, MLB players could see their popularity increase, and baseball equipment companies could very well see their product lines sell more. After all, what little Mets fan wouldn’t be running to the stores begging their parents to buy them the new Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Lindor, or Stroman mitt as Little League seasons are about a month or so away?
— New York Mets (@Mets) March 2, 2021
Specifically, Rojas said McNeil is a 20-30 homer guy. That may come as a big surprise to Mets fans who have seen McNeil take an Ichiro Suzuki approach by being aggressive at the plate and spraying the ball all across the field to rack up base hits.
However, Rojas has known a different McNeil at the plate. Back in 2018 when Rojas was the manager of the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, he saw McNeil develop as a power hitter.
In 57 games for the Rumble Ponies, McNeil hit .327/.402/.626 with 16 doubles, three triples, 14 homers, and 43 RBI. Extrapolated over a 162 season, that’s 45 doubles, nine triples, 40 homers, and 122 RBI.
That’s the type of hitter McNeil was when people first took notice of him and began clamoring for the Mets to call him up to the majors.
As we know, McNeil has had a different approach in the majors. Instead of looking to drive the ball, he looked to make contact. It was quite successful, and so far, it’s continued to be successful. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t be a power hitter or at least someone who hits for more power.
Right now, it’s difficult to ascertain why McNeil made the switch from a middle of the order type of bat to a table setter. What we do know is there are certain limitations to his swing at everything approach. Essentially, he needs a high BABIP (which he has maintained), and he needs to continue finding holes in an era of advanced data and shifting.
Unlike most hitters who have that approach, McNeil can change. He can be like Francisco Lindor who averaged 42 doubles and 34 homers between 2017 – 2019. Of course, to do that, McNeil has to once again shift his approach.
Maybe that will depend on where he hits in the lineup. It may also depend on the deadened ball. Mostly, it depends on what McNeil wants to do at the plate.
If he wants to continue his current approach, great. It’s led to him being an All-Star. If not, that’s great too as he’s shown he can hit for power.
Overall, McNeil has shown the ability to adapt and thrive. He hit for power to get to the majors, and once there, he hit to get on baseball. Judging from his bat control, he can shift back to hitting for power.
We know he can. The only question is whether he will. Whatever the case, McNeil should thrive this year and in the ensuing years.
As fans, we are always so critical of the manger about the lineup. Of course, we know managers don’t really set the lineup anymore, and more to the point, there are just so many moving pieces when setting a lineup. While overlooked, there really is a human element at play, which fans are never quite aware.
When it comes to the Mets, there are so many different options on how to set this lineup. For starters, there are four elite lead-off hitters. There are seven middle of the lineup caliber bats. Luis Rojas and the Mets front office have to balance egos as well as how to get the most out of all of their hitters. Taking all of that into account, the 2021 Mets lineup should be:, 3B
- Jeff McNeil, 3B
- Brandon Nimmo, CF
- Francisco Lindor, SS
- Michael Conforto, RF
- Pete Alonso, 1B
- Dominic Smith, LF
- James McCann, C
- Luis Guillorme, 2B
The caveat here is this is obviously not going to be the lineup. After all, early indications from Spring Training are Nimmo will hit lead-off, and the Mets are going to give J.D. Davis the bulk of the playing time at third despite his being incapable of playing the position.
The reason to bat McNeil lead-off is two-fold. First and foremost, McNeil is at his best batting lead-off. As previously detailed, McNeil is an aggressive hitter at the plate, and he is terrific hitting fastballs. Notably, pitchers throw a fastball to start the game over 99% of the time. That gives McNeil an advantage, and it allows him to get an ideal pitch to swing and put in play. Worst case, pitchers adapt, throw something else, and then fall out of rhythm.
That gives Nimmo the opportunity to be a second lead-off hitter. After the pitcher had to deal with McNeil jumping all over him, Nimmo can then work the deep counts he always does. As an aside, a healthy Nimmo is the Mets best hitter, and at least statistically, a team’s best hitter should bat second in the lineup.
What’s interesting is while your best hitter should bat second, your second best hitter should bat fourth. Some of this is counter-intuitive because we’ve done baseball a certain way for more than a century. Keeping that in mind, the Mets second best hitter is arguably Conforto.
wRC+ since 2017
Smith 116 https://t.co/KIyBzWH9it
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) February 21, 2021
Conforto has the longer and better track record. Like Nimmo and Lindor, he’s also shown the ability to hit without the juiced ball. That’s not an indictment of the younger hitters who have only played with the juiced ball. It’s just a fact.
That means Conforto should bat cleanup. Who should bat third is an interesting debate. Given his stature as a superstar and his being a switch hitter, Lindor slots in well here.
Batting Lindor third, also allows the Mets to begin the L-R alternating through the bottom of the lineup. That gives the Mets the most lethal 5-6 hitters in all of baseball and gives them the deepest lineup in all of baseball.
That leads us to Guillorme eighth. Fact is, he’s Gold Glove caliber at second. With the ground ball heavy pitching staff the Mets have, he definitively needs to be in the lineup over Davis. It should also be noted Guillorme has been improving significantly offensively while Davis is a ground ball machine.
Of course, certain players may feel better or more comfortable in different spots. The Mets may also want to change it up when there is a left-handed pitcher on the mound. That said, at least on paper, this is the optimal Mets lineup.
During his press conference before the New York Mets first Spring Training game, Sandy Alderson addressed extensions. On that note, he specifically mentioned Michael Conforto, Francisco Lindor, and Noah Syndergaard as players the team will have discussions.
Going further, Alderson addressed how the offseason impacted building the team. He said James McCann helped allow the Mets to have the capital to bring on Carlos Carrasco and Lindor. He also admitted what impact George Springer could’ve had on the Mets:
Sandy Alderson suggested the Mets had interest in George Springer at five years, but not six. If the Mets had signed Springer, Alderson said, it probably would have precluded them from trying to extend Michael Conforto.
"At some point, even Steve Cohen runs out of money."
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) March 1, 2021
In that, Alderson admitted it was Conforto or Springer. In some ways, that’s just common sense as Springer was commanding a huge salary, and before his deal was over, he was going to have to move to right field.
That had a direct impact on the Mets ability to keep one of Conforto or Brandon Nimmo. With Conforto hitting free agency first, it was much more likely to be Conforto gone.
Well, Springer has signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. That clears the path for the Mets to keep their core on long term extensions. With Alderson essentially admitting it was Conforto or Springer, that means a Conforto extension must now get done.
It was the Mets who framed it as a Conforto/Springer choice. They now made their choice, and they must now follow through by giving Conforto an extension. After that, they can name him captain and watch on as he makes his attempts to become the Mets best ever position player.
When the New York Mets acquired Francisco Lindor, fans knew they were getting a future Hall of Famer. Well, it appears he is more than just that.
First and foremost, Lindor is just fun. He’s always smiling and seems to love playing more than anyone. Keep in mind, when you play with Brandon Nimmo that is really saying something.
He’s bringing an energy to the Mets much in the same way we once saw with Yoenis Cespedes and his Spring Training antics. For Lindor, that’s been dying his hair blue and donning the Eddie Murphy Mets jacket not only to go to work but later at picture day:
— New York Mets (@Mets) February 25, 2021
— New York Mets (@Mets) February 27, 2021
If we think this is fun, wait until he takes the field. When we see that, we’ll see what makes him a great player with an infectious personality. We should also see the Mets winning games.
In terms of that, Lindor is doing all he can to help the Mets be a winner in 2021. He’s already taken on a leadership role. We saw that in action as he worked to help J.D. Davis improve at third:
— David Lennon (@DPLennon) February 28, 2021
If Lindor can truly get Davis to even be competent at third, he will be pulling off a miracle. If miracle worker is part of his skill set, we probably shouldn’t be surprised.
Really, we shouldn’t be surprised by anything with Lindor. He’s fun. He’s a leader. He’s willing to help his teammates improve and raise their games.
All told, so far Lindor is everything promised, and he has already been far more. Just think, it’s already better than we all imagined, and he still hasn’t had the chance to wow us in the field.
As we look at the 2021 Mets, offensively speaking this team is an embarrassment of riches. This team is full of players who can be great hitting lead-off and can make the argument they should be hitting in the middle of the lineup. As you parse through it all, the debate begins over who exactly is the best hitter on this team.
It may come to surprise you the answer is actually Brandon Nimmo.
No, that is not going to be a popular answer, especially among a fanbase who has a contingent who bizarrely believes Nimmo is a fourth outfielder. To that point, if we look since 2017, here are the Mets top hitters according to wRC+:
- Jeff McNeil 139
- Brandon Nimmo 136
- Pete Alonso 136
- Michael Conforto 132
- Francisco Lindor 119
- Dominic Smith 116
- J.D. Davis 115
- Luis Guillorme 93
- James McCann 91
Now, looking at that list, McNeil is ahead of Nimmo, and Nimmo is in a dead heat with Alonso. Really, taking the top four into account the 132 – 139 range isn’t really much of a separation to adjudge who is best among that group. However, there is more to the story when you are looking at Nimmo.
Nimmo’s biggest issue in terms of these rankings is he mostly missed out on the super juiced ball of 2019. While everyone was putting up video game numbers, Nimmo first dealt with a sore hand after a HBP early in the season. Soon thereafter, he was found to have a bulging disc which cost him the vast majority of that season.
While injuries of that nature are certainly concerning, Nimmo has done nothing but shown he has overcame that injury. Nimmo was reactivated when rosters were expanded in September. From September 1 through the 2020 season, Nimmo hit .275/.412/.506, and he posted a 151 wRC+. That wasn’t exactly a fluke.
In Nimmo’s breakout 2018 season, Nimmo had a 148 wRC+. It’s of interest to note, Nimmo had the same mark in 2020. That’s elite offensive production, and in his last two healthy seasons, he’s posted that same number. Keep in mind, that’s better than any other player on the Mets has posted over the course of a full 162 game season.
Yes, last season, we did see some Mets players post a better wRC+. Specifically, Smith had a 164, and Conforto had a 157. In terms of both, we have seen enough in their careers to indicate they are capable of producing incredible offensive seasons like that. We know the same for McNeil and Alonso. We haven’t seen it in New York, but we know Lindor is a very good offensive player albeit it one a step behind the rest.
Still, no one on the Mets roster has produced the numbers Nimmo has when Nimmo has been healthy. When healthy, Nimmo has produced at a level commensurate with players like Juan Soto (152), Christian Yelich (147), and Freddie Freeman (146). Since 2017, that’s the level of offensive player Nimmo has been.
Certainly, people refuse to believe it and want to write it off because Nimmo walks too much as if that is a bad thing. They also dismiss his approach citing he’s taking hittable pitches while ignoring his .456 SLG and .850 OPS. Nimmo is a player who makes a pitcher work, he gets on base, and he hits for power. That should be seen as the ideal profile for a hitter.
Also, keep in mind, it’s not just about batting average or homers. It’s about the ability to get on base. Few in all of baseball are better than Nimmo in that department and certainly no one on the Mets.
Overall, when Nimmo is healthy, he is the best offensive player in this lineup. Sure, he could very well be surpassed by players like Alonso or Conforto. That is very well possible given the caliber of player they are. However, keep in mind even with all the great things they do, they still haven’t done what Nimmo when healthy over the course of a 162 game season.
Back in 1988, the New York Mets owned the town, and one of the funniest movies of all-time, Coming to America, hit theaters. In the movie, we saw Eddie Murphy wear what has become an iconic Mets jacket as the the Prince of Zamunda tried to fit-in in Queens:
Well, it is now over 30 years later, and we are getting a sequel to that movie, Coming 2 America, and once again, the New York Mets appear poised to take over New York behind Steve Cohen. In trailers for the movie, we once again see Murphy wearing the coat. Not only that, but we got to see new Mets superstar Francisco Lindor wear it to Spring Training:
— New York Mets (@Mets) February 25, 2021
Between the movie and the Mets about to take-off, there should be any number of Mets fans ready to go out and buy that jacket. Except, right now, they can’t. It’s not for sale on Fanatics or MLB Shop. If memory serves, this was a Starter jacket, but it is not available for sale by that company.
The failure to have this jacket available for sale seems like a missed opportunity. Speaking for myself and presumably every Mets fan, we would love to buy that jacket. It is a reminder of the best era in Mets history, and right now, it could very well be a harbinger for the next great era of Mets baseball. If we are going to need jackets for cold October baseball, is there a better jacket than that to wear?