The danger with calling up Mark Vientos was that Buck Showalter was not going to play him. That is just Showalter’s instincts when it comes to young players. While veterans need not have to produce to keep a roster spot, young players have to go above and beyond to earn playing time.
When Brett Baty was first called up, he was immediately put into a platoon at third base with Eduardo Escobar. What was bizarre about that was Baty was called up to the majors specifically because of Escobar’s struggles. Baty has since played his way out of the platoon.
For two years running, the Mets said when Francisco Álvarez was called up to the majors, he was going to be the primary catcher. However, when Álvarez was called up after the Omar Narváez injury, Showalter first made Álvarez the back-up to Tomás Nido.
Eventually, Nido’s struggles and eye issues forced him to the IL, and now Álvarez is the primary catcher. However, even with Álvarez being the Mets best hitter for over a month now, he still bats ninth.
That brings us back to Vientos.
Vientos was called up because Daniel Vogelbach was not hitting for power, and he was slumping. Tommy Pham was not getting it done either from the DH spot. Mostly, the Mets needed more power in their lineup. Given the power display Vientos was exhibiting in Triple-A coupled with him dramatically cutting down on the strikeouts, the Mets were almost forced to call him up.
When he was first called up, it looked genius. Vientos would homer off of Ryan Thompson to tie the game and spark what would be the Mets best win of the season. Notably, Vientos was just one of four players over the past three seasons to homer off of Thompson’s slider:
Good thing they didn’t call up Mark Vientos sooner.
— Mike Mayer (@mikemayer22) May 18, 2023
Even with the homer, the Mets would not get him back into the lineup. He sat against the right-handed Taj Bradley. However, he would get into the lineup again against the right-handed Cal Quantrill. In that game, Vientos came up with the big base hit off Emmanuel Clase in the 10th to pull the Mets within a run.
For Vientos, that was two games played with two big hits producing an RBI. Despite that, he would not appear in the lineup until two games later. Being fair here, one of the games he missed the first half of a doubleheader. Still, after two big hits, Showalter’s inclination was to sit Vientos for two straight games.
Vientos struggled against Shane Bieber, who was excellent over eight innings. Then again, the Mets lineup only produced two runs on seven hits for the day.
Vientos would start at DH in the first game of the series against the Chicago Cubs with Drew Smyly taking the mound. After going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts, Showalter pinch hit Vogelbach for Vientos when the right-handed Jeremiah Estrada relieved Smyly.
When Showalter pinch hit for Vientos, there were runners on first and second with one out. Vogelbach flied out with Francisco Lindor and Alonso moving up. You’ll note when Starling Marte, the Mets worst hitter this season, came to the plate, Showalter did not use Jeff McNeil to pinch hit for him. Instead, he left Marte in to ground out killing the Mets chances of getting back into that game.
With Marcus Stroman taking the hill, Vientos was again on the bench in favor of Vogelbach. Vogelbach was 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Again, Vogelbach had the type of performance which led to Vientos getting called up.
Taking all into account, here is where we are. Vientos was impactful the first two games but has not been since. He is struggling with sporadic playing time going 2-for-13 at the plate with a homer and two RBI (65 wRC+).
Vientos is not producing enough at the moment. He has also been taken out the rhythm he was in Triple-A with the sporadic playing time he has had. Put the blame where you want it, but the end result is Vientos not playing frequently and not producing the way he did even when he was first called-up.
Francisco Álvarez entered the 2023 season as the catcher of the future. Before Memorial Day, Álvarez has established himself as the catcher of the present.
He’s been great defensively, which has been a very pleasant surprise. His bat is coming around, and over the past month, he’s been the second best hitting catcher in the game.
Keep in mind, he’s just scratching the surface. He’s 21, and he has a potential superstar career ahead of him. When players like these “arrive,” organizations just hand them the keys.
To some degree, this does raise some questions as to how the New York Mets handle their catching situation. At the moment, they’re all over-blown.
We don’t know if Gary Sánchez will ever hit in the majors again. We also haven’t really seen anything to suggest he can catch at the Major League level.
Sánchez is a back-up catcher, DH, and/or power bat off the bench. In reality he’s the later two and more of a complication for Mark Vientos.
Tomás Nido is a defensive back-up. He’s not starting for anyone or pushing the future of your franchise back to Double-A. He’s needed and important but nowhere near indispensable.
The “complication” is really Omar Narváez. However, much of this is overblown.
First and foremost, Narváez was moved to the 60 day IL. He’s not yet begun a rehab assignment. Although, that should be happening within the next few weeks.
Narváez signed the deal with the Mets knowing Álvarez existed. He signed a deal with a player option for 2024.
Essentially, Narváez signed in hoping he could keep Álvarez in the minors. In the event he couldn’t, he has a built-in escape clause. Put another way, he knew the current situation could well happen, and he was prepared.
That does not mean he will be happy or accept it. That’s his prerogative, and no one can blame him for being upset for losing his job due to injury.
That said, Álvarez is flat out better than him at the moment. Álvarez is going to get a lot better too.
However, Álvarez has never caught more than 81 games in a season. He’s currently 39% of the way towards his career high in games caught.
As a result, we should expect a rookie wall. There will be fatigue. There may be a need to ease up on the amount of games he catches per week.
Obviously, the Mets will want to DH him those days. Again, that’s a complication for Vientos. It will be one for Daniel Vogelbach and Sánchez as well.
It’s also an opportunity to get Narváez into more games. It can keep him happy, and it can allow the Mets to get the most from him and Álvarez.
Of course, for that to be the situation, Narváez has to return from his IL stint. He needs to be productive and force the issue. Put another way, the Mets can kick the can down the road for now.
While that happens, Billy Eppler needs to be active. It’s obvious he needs to have a plan for what to do with the DHs because Álvarez is here to stay and needs a place to play.
The New York Mets are making the right move calling up Gary Sánchez. We know Sánchez has the ability to have a game changing type of bat, and he has the type of power the Mets are trying to add to the roster.
Sánchez had an opt out date fast approaching. It could be a mix of small sample sizes, good luck, and some adjustments, but Sánchez has been raking in Triple-A Syracuse. The Mets should get a look at Sánchez at the Major League level before letting another team benefit from the risk and work the Mets took on signing Sánchez to a minor league deal.
While a smart decision, it comes with serious risk given who is in charge of the Mets.
Buck Showalter has already given Mets fans reason to be leery on his handling with young players. Mark Vientos hit a big home run, and he sat the next day in favor of Tommy Pham and Daniel Vogelbach, two players whose failures necessitated Vientos’ promotion to the majors.
Based on Showalter’s comments, it seems he may be leaning towards a third base platoon between Vientos and Brett Baty. Baty just escaped one with Eduardo Escobar, but because Showalter is reticent to use his young players over his veterans, it appears two players who should be together in the starting lineup are now going to battle for one spot.
That brings us back to Francisco Álvarez.
When Omar Narváez went down with injury, Álvarez was called up to the majors. Prior to this moment, the Mets always said once Álvarez is called up, he is going to be the primary catcher. Instead, Showalter declared Tomás Nido would start over Álvarez.
It literally took Nido developing an eye issue causing his ineffectiveness for Álvarez to get the starting job he should have had. That was the organizational plan, but on his own volition, Showalter abandoned it.
Looking at Álvarez now, he is an excellent defensive catcher. He just hit a huge homer. Over the past 21 games, he has hit four homers, an .807 OPS, and a 128 wRC+. That would make him one of the Mets best hitters over this stretch, so naturally, he can’t bat anything other than ninth in this lineup.
Now, Álvarez sitting in the series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays was overblown. He’s a catcher. Day games after night games always means your catcher sits. Showalter didn’t need the nicked up excuse. Álvarez is a catcher. Catchers are always nicked up.
From what we’ve seen, the Mets can’t take Álvarez out of the everyday lineup. If the Mets want to play Sánchez, fine, He can DH. He can catch the second end of the doubleheader or the day game after the night game. That’s the job of the backup catcher which Sánchez should undoubtedly be.
Make no mistake, Álvarez is better than Sánchez. Whereas Sánchez struggles defensively, Álvarez is very good behind the plate. Whereas Sánchez never fulfilled his offensive potential, Álvarez is giving us very real glimpses into what he can be.
In the end, the Mets were smart to call up Sánchez. If utilized properly, he can be a real weapon for the Mets. However, if he usurps Álvarez this will be a disaster, and it will the latest in Showalter trying to put a stop to the Mets youth movement. The Mets simply cannot let that happen.
The New York Mets finally broke glass for emergency and called up Mark Vientos from Triple-A Syracuse. The move was needed after the Mets went 56 innings without a homer, and the team dropped to three games under .500.
VIentos is not going to fix all that ails that Mets. After all, he can’t help José Quintana heal faster. He can’t get Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander to rewind the clock a year. He can’t get David Peterson to rediscover his ability to pitch.
All Vientos can do is go out there and hit. Even on a team with Pete Alonso, Vientos could possibly be the Mets best power bat at the moment. So far this year, he has a 169 wRC+ and 1.104 OPS with Triple-A Syracuse. He has also posted historically higher exit velocities than Alonso did in the minors.
Of course, none of that is here or there. Mostly, it just highlights how the Mets have two very similar power bats in the lineup in Alonso and Vientos. Of course, the Mets can only take advantage of that by actually playing Vientos.
Mark Vientos with his 13th HR of the season.
107.2 mph off the bat and traveled 411 feet.
— Mathew Brownstein (@MBrownstein89) May 17, 2023
So far this season, we have seen Buck Showalter reticent to play his younger players and/or give them more responsibility. When Brett Baty was called up, he started in a platoon. When Francisco Álvarez was called up, he was named the back-up catcher, and even after winning the job from Tomás Nido, he still can’t get above hitting ninth in the lineup.
With Vientos, the Mets already have Daniel Vogelbach as the DH. Showalter does not like playing rookies over veterans, and it is going to be difficult to do that with Vogelbach with him being productive with a 119 wRC+.
That said, Vogelbach has been slumping, and he has not come close to posting the power numbers expected from a DH. More to the point, Vogelbach is not capable of providing the damage at the plate Vientos potentially can.
Certainly, there will be the impetus to make Vientos a platoon option with Vogelbach usurping the role Tommy Pham was supposed to have. Notably, Vientos struggled in that platoon role last season, and you have to believe Showalter remembers those struggles.
To his credit, Vientos has been better for those struggles. He has significantly cut down on his strike out rate. With his making more contact, he is destroying baseballs in Triple-A. He promises to add a dynamic to the Mets offense they sorely need.
However, that only works if he actually plays. That does not mean a platoon at third with Baty. It does not mean a platoon at DH with Vogelbach. It means in the lineup everyday. That is the expectation, but we will see if that is the plan Showalter has.
The New York Mets signed Gary Sánchez to a minor league deal, and they will assign the C/DH to Triple-A Syracuse. Now, the standard rule is there is no such thing as a minor league deal. Those are lottery tickets.
We’ve seen from Baseball Savant, Sánchez annihilates the baseball when he makes contact. He’s actually better behind the plate than advertised. That doesn’t mean he’s good, just better as he has shown the ability to frame well and throw out base runners. He still can’t block the ball.
When you have a Mets team struggling offensively, Sánchez could be a power bat they need. He could share the DH spot with Daniel Vogelbach. He could be a late inning pinch hitter. He could be a third catcher giving the Mets some late inning flexibility.
These are all very good reasons to sign Sánchez. The best part is he could prove to be none of these things leading the Mets to keep him in Syracuse or release him at one point.
The question is whether the Mets can be trusted with Sánchez. Maybe it is reading too much into things, but this appears to be a direct threat to the playing time of Francisco Álvarez‘s playing time.
Things did not start well for Álvarez after the Omar Narváez injury. However, that was partially the result of Buck Showalter‘s insistence on making Álvarez the back-up to Tomás Nido. The red-hot hitting Álvarez went cold at the plate initially.
With Nido’s struggles, the Mets have been all but forced to play Álvarez, and he has responded quite well. He has been elite in terms of pitch framing, and he’s blocking balls well. Over his past 13 games, he is hitting .286/.342/.429. Those are not the numbers we expect in the long run, but it’s productive, and more importantly, it’s a start.
The very last thing the Mets should be doing is taking away Álvarez’s playing time. Certainly, the Mets cannot look to Sánchez to play over Álvarez in the long or short term. Simply put, Álvarez is right now the better defensive and offensive player.
Still, this is a Mets team with a weird affinity towards former players of Showalter with the Baltimore Orioles, and we see Billy Eppler keeping an eye out for his former players with the Yankees and Los Angeles Angels. That’s fine for depth and minor league signings. It is a whole other thing when we see it play out at the Major League level.
On the surface, Sánchez is a GREAT minor league signing. There is talent there, and if you can unlock it, watch out! That said, we should remain skeptical as to the Mets true motives as it has a very direct impact on what they do with Álvarez.
No matter how much Buck Showalter wants to defer to the veterans on his team, he needs to stop going back to his failed instincts and trust what he is seeing. Francisco Álvarez has arrived.
This is something that has been slowly building even with Showalter and the Mets wanting to push this off to a later date. After all, if Álvarez establishes himself as a starting catcher, what is the team going to do with Tomás Nido, a very valuable back-up defensive catcher.
More than that, there is Omar Narváez. The Mets signed him to be the starting catcher. Certainly, he looked every bit of that to start the season. In spots, you never want to see a player lose a job due to injury. More than that, the Mets invested in Narváez to start.
All of that is well and good. However, at the end of the day, the Mets main responsibility is to put the best players on the field in order to win games. At the moment, it is getting increasingly difficult to deny Álvarez isn’t the Mets best catcher even when everyone is healthy.
We saw it against the Atlanta Braves. The Mets were trailing 3-2 in the sixth on the verge of getting swept by the Braves. That’s when Álvarez hit a go-ahead two RBI double to give the Mets the lead.
Álvarez for the LEAD! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/DEVORWIayR
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 1, 2023
Looking at the Mets, this is a lineup devoid of some real bats. Álvarez is one of the few bats with game changing power and potential. He not only can do what the other Mets catchers can’t do, but he also can do what the majority of this Mets lineup can’t.
To be fair, catching isn’t about the bat. More than the other positions, it is the one where you have to sacrifice offense for the sake of defense. The catcher’s work behind the plate is far more important than his 3-4 at-bats per game.
Well, right now, Álvarez is tied for fourth overall in catcher framing runs. Per Baseball Savant, Álvarez has the fifth best called strike rate in the majors. In terms of catching and framing pitches he’s not only the Mets best catcher, he’s one of the best in the game.
Looking over the stats from Baseball Savant, Álvarez has been solid blocking balls in the dirt being slightly above average. He has been a negative in terms of the running game with slower pop times.
When you break it all down, you see Álvarez is ready. There is no need for him to be in Triple-A or backing anyone up. He is the Mets best catcher, and he needs to be treated as such right now. The organization can deal with the ramifications of that in-season.
That’s what you do when you have a prospect like Álvarez. When it is his time, you step aside and watch him become everything you thought he could be. He is doing that right now. The Mets just can’t let their manager or front office ignore this and lose sight of what’s really important – winning games with your best players on the field.
The New York Mets finished April with a 15-12 record three games behind the Atlanta Braves for first place in the National League East. Even for the Mets, there was a lot to digest:
1. David Cone made it clear Max Scherzer wasn’t cheating, and Scherzer is owed an apology from Major League Baseball. The Mets do as well for the extra toll it took on their rotation.
2. Jacob deGrom‘s continued injuries are sad, and we should all want the best for him. However, no one should be using that as justification for the Mets letting him go to Texas when Justin Verlander has yet to throw a pitch for the Mets.
3. David Peterson pitched himself out of the rotation, and it’s not clear where the Mets go from here with him. He’s in Triple-A where he belongs for the time being. In the long term, the Mets need to figure out if he’s salvageable as a starter, needs to be their Trevor Williams, or perhaps their next Seth Lugo.
4. David Robertson has more than taken over for Edwin Díaz. The issue is the rest of the bullpen continues to fluctuate between injured, ineffective, and lights out. Really, game-to-game, the Mets have no consistency down there other than Robertson.
5. The youth movement has begun with Brett Baty, and we see Francisco Álvarez has been forcing the issue (surprisingly with his defense). At some point, the Mets are going to have to just give the DH job to Mark Vientos because he has been annihilating the baseball.
6. Buck Showalter seems content to stick with his veterans, and if that continues in the long run, it is going to be a problem. Given how young players were the key to his success in Baltimore, it is flat out crazy to see how he hasn’t involved from the instincts which doomed him with the New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Texas Rangers.
7. Pete Alonso has been nearly everything you could ask from him to start this season. In fact, he’s even back to playing good defense at first base.
8. Brandon Nimmo has responded to signing that massive contract by arguably being the best player in baseball to start the season. This will be the first season he is an All-Star, and we should seem him get some MVP consideration should he stay healthy.
9. It’s been an uneasy start for Francisco Lindor, but he has been phenomenal defensively. Just remember with him, May is typically the month he breaks out in a season, so we should be in for a treat.
10. The way Daniel Vogelbach has started the season he is going to give the Mets reason to follow Daniel Murphy, who is off to a hot start with the Long Island Ducks. Better yet, we may see Vientos here sooner rather than later. Really, at some point, Vogelbach has to hit for some power.
11. Whatever the Mets thinking was on Tommy Pham, it was wrong. Moreover, it was wrong to build outfield depth with players 34 and older (aside from Nimmo). That goes double when you consider the Mets have zero Major League ready outfield depth in Syracuse.
12. Jeff McNeil surprisingly got off to a very slow start. However, he has been really strong the past two weeks, and he appears poised to have another very good season for the Mets.
13. McNeil needs to be more of a table setter. The Mets going with Starling Marte batting second just isn’t working. He’s making weak contact, and he’s just not getting on base enough. McNeil isn’t a five hitter. Again, Showalter needs to stop with the deference to veterans and start looking to win games.
14. Give Eduardo Escobar all the credit in the world. He lost his job, and he responded by being an amazing teammate and mentor. While his production may not be what the Mets wanted it to be when they signed him, the signing has paid off tenfold with his leadership and clubhouse presence.
15. Increasingly, Mark Canha looks done, at least as an everyday player. There needs to be a rotation with him and Luis Guillorme playing until the Mets figure out what they want to do with Ronny Mauricio. On Mauricio, so long as Showalter is loathe to play the young players, you simply cannot call him up.
16. There is an ace somewhere inside Kodai Senga. We saw it in Japan, and we have seen glimpses of it here. However, if he is going to continue to walk the ballpark, he is going to be a borderline MLB starter. That is a huge problem for the Mets with much of their success being tied into how good or bad he performs.
17. Every year, Drew Smith seems to be performing worse than what his actual numbers are. Part of that is his walk rate is too high.
18. Tomás Nido‘s defensive metrics are surprisingly poor. Part of that may be the difficulties in catching Senga. If not, the Mets are in trouble when their defensive specialist behind the plate isn’t performing.
19. The biggest takeaway from April is the Mets appear to be a postseason team with part of that being because it is an expanded postseason format. Keep in mind, while their record now may not be awe inspiring, they are still on a 90 win pace.
20. It needs to be repeated over and over again. The Mets need to go with their younger and more productive players. If Showalter is going to stand in the way of that, the Mets need to find someone who won’t. It’s just that simple.
Back in 2016, after we saw Michael Conforto hit a home run in the World Series against a left-handed pitcher, Terry Collins still did not believe Conforto could hit left-handed pitching. As a result, he stuck Conforto into a platoon.
Now, Conforto was 23 years old, and despite the heroics of Yoenis Céspedes, he was probably the best outfielder on the roster. More than that, Conforto was the present and the future of the Mets. Despite that, Collins said Conforto was in a platoon because, “We’re in a situation where we’re trying to win games. This is not a time to develop players.”
It was nonsense at the time he said it, and it remains nonsense now. The goal as a manager is to win games, and it is to get the most out of your players. You win more games in the long run by developing and learning how to get more out of your players.
Fast forward to 2023, and we are seeing Buck Showalter is really no different than Collins.
At the moment, it at least seems like Brett Baty is in a third base platoon with Eduardo Escobar. Now, Escobar did hit left-handed pitching well, but then again, Baty is up here because of Escobar’s failings. Moreover, Escobar could be inserted into the lineup at the DH spot because Daniel Vogelbach cannot hit left-handed pitching at all.
However, it is Baty sitting with Showalter eschewing player development. On that topic, Showalter talked around the fact he has instituted a platoon:
Buck Showalter says that he doesn't see third base as a strict platoon with Brett Baty and Eduardo Escobar right now:
"Want to use both their skills, make sure that I don't close the door on anybody. We're gonna need both of them." pic.twitter.com/kutxXjRWLt
— SNY (@SNYtv) April 26, 2023
Showalter can say whatever he wants, but until Baty plays against left-handed pitching regularly, he’s lying. Again, he’s sacrificing a chance to develop Baty for the sake of playing Escobar and Tommy Pham. That wont’ work for the long term, and we are not talking about future years. it can impact the Mets in August, September, and October.
This isn’t too different than what he is doing with Francisco Álvarez. All offseason and spring, the Mets said when he gets called up to the majors, he is the everyday catcher. Omar Narváez was injured early in the season leading the Mets to call up Álvarez sooner than anticipated.
Well, instead of sticking to the player development plan, Tomás Nido was elevated to starter. He has been that despite not performing offensively or defensively. In fact, in his limited duties, Álvarez has been outperforming Nido.
Sure, it makes sense to keep Nido with Kodai Senga. Asking Álvarez to catch him may be too much, too soon. That said, there is no reason why Álvarez is not regularly catching the other four Mets starters.
Perhaps, it is because Showalter subscribes to the Collins school of thought where you don’t develop young players. Getting players to improve is somehow antithetical to winning in their minds. It’s notable Collins never won anything, and despite all the Manager of the Year Awards, neither has Showalter.
Perhaps, the key to winning is to play your best players. Perhaps, the key to winning is to take your most talented players and get the most out of them. It seems to work for other teams. Perhaps, it could work for the Mets.
The New York Mets top prospects all began the season with Triple-A Syracuse with the expectation that sooner or later they were going to take over major roles on this Mets team. Put another way, if the Mets veterans did not play well, the organization would have the excuse they needed to push that veteran aside for a potential future All-Star.
That already began with Brett Baty taking over for Eduardo Escobar. Escobar struggled to start the season at the plate and in the field. The Mets felt like they had little other choice than to finally give the job to Baty.
Now, Baty has not set the world on fire. In six games, he is only 5-for-21 at the plate with no extra base hits. However, he has posted a surprisingly strong 2 OAA at second.
As a result, so long as he keeps fielding, and the Mets keep winning games, he can work through his struggles at the plate. After all, Escobar was struggling at the plate an in the field.
Right now, Baty is joined on the roster by Francisco Álvarez. Alvarez is only up because Omar Narváez was injured. Buck Showalter made Álvarez the back-up to Tomás Nido, but as previously detailed, Álvarez has begun pressing the issue by actually outperforming Nido as a pitch framer. There’s also his immense power.
Speaking of immense power, Mark Vientos has been destroying baseballs down in Triple-A. So far this season, he has a .706 SLG and 191 wRC+. Perhaps even more important than the power numbers is his cutting down his strike out rate by nearly five points. As impressive as this all is, it’s all the more so when you consider he is historically a very slow starter.
While Vientos is uncharacteristically hot early, Daniel Vogelbach has not hit for any power to start the season. Through the first 17 games, he has a .375 OPS with just three extra base hits. To be fair, he has been getting on base with a .412 OBP, which is still valuable even if he can’t run.
Still, a Mets team largely devoid of power outside Pete Alonso needs more power in the lineup, and that would preferably come from their DH. Keep in mind, Vogelbach also comes with the problem of being a platoon bat requiring the Mets to carry extra players to pick up his slack. Between the power, ability to actually fill in defensively at the corner infield spots, and his ability to play everyday, Vientos offers far more for the Mets.
Finally, there’s Ronny Mauricio. Like Vientos, he is off to a hot start at the plate with 1.083 OPS. That is coming off the heels of being the LIDOM MVP and a great spring training. It does seem the Mets are preparing for his getting called up this year by moving him to second base this past week.
With respect to that, this is one of the reasons Jeff McNeil is so valuable to the team. While a very good defensive second baseman, he is also a good fielding left fielder. To wit, it seems like McNeil is destined to play left field for the Mets while Mauricio takes over second.
It would seem Mauricio would most likely get the call-up in the event of an injury. On that point, we have already had some Starling Marte scares this season. Aside from Brandon Nimmo, the Mets outfielders are all over the age of 34.
You could argue he could force his way in there over a Mark Canha, who still isn’t hitting for power despite an offseason regiment designed to do so. However, the Mets value his leadership and ability to get on base. Moreover, Mauricio really can’t push aside a veteran like Canha while his walk rate continues to be poor. This year, it’s up to 4.7% which is still problematic.
That said, Mauricio is still hitting and trying to force his way to the majors. We saw Baty has already done that this season. Vientos is on the verge of doing that as well. In the end, the Mets could have a major overhaul this season by going to their younger and better performing players.
There is no doubt Francisco Álvarez has struggled this season. Entering the series finale against the San Francisco Giants, Álvarez was 2-for-23 at the plate with no extra base hits, no walks, and seven strikeouts. Those are just ugly numbers.
Part of the reason is Buck Showalter and whoever else in the New York Mets organization froze him out. Despite spring training promises Álvarez was going to catch regularly whenever he was called up, Álvarez took a clear back seat to Tomás Nido.
To some degree, you could understand the rationale. Nido is the far superior defensive catcher. He is a superior defensive catcher as compared to nearly anyone. The idea was his work behind the plate offsets his offensive struggles, and that was all the more important with all of the Mets pitching injuries.
With Nido, he better be great behind the plate to carry that career 57 wRC+. Historically, he has been that. The problem is he has not been remotely good at framing to the start of the season posting 45.8% strike rate and 0 catcher runs (Baseball Savant).
This carries the usual small sample size concerns and caveats. However, when you make a short term decision like playing Nido over the long term decision of playing and developing Álvarez, you have to have all of the stats completely in your favor to justify the decision.
The Mets don’t have that at the moment. In fact, from a framing perspective, the still very raw Álvarez has been outplaying Nido.
Like Nido, Álvarez has posted 0 catcher runs, but he has done it with a 50.0% strike rate. His pop times and exchange rates are slower than Nido, and we have seen teams have a willingness to run on Álvarez a little more. That said, at least in terms of purely catching the pitch, Álvarez seems to be the better performer.
He also has much more potential in his bat. We saw it when he took Tyler Rogers deep in the series finale against the Giants. Keep in mind, Rogers is a reliever with a 0.5 HR/9 rate You have to really earn it against Rogers, and that goes double in that ballpark.
Francisco Álvarez became the first right-handed hitter (and only second since start of 2022 season) to take Tyler Rogers deep since Manny Machado on 8/9/2022.
— Mike Mayer (@mikemayer22) April 24, 2023
In that moment, we saw the reason why Álvarez has been compared to Mike Piazza. His power is immense, and his offensive potential is off the charts. He just hasn’t gotten it going in the majors in his brief career.
Again, part of the blame lies on Showalter (or whoever is directing him not play Álvarez). It is a decision hurting the team in the short term, and it can hurt the Mets in the long term. They need to let him learn how to be a better catcher, and they need to let him get into a groove at the plate.
Álvarez is the Mets catcher of the future. If they paid any attention, and if they cared about player development, he could be the catcher of the present. After that homer and looking at all of the numbers, it is beyond time to make the switch.