Luis Guillorme Should Be 2023 Mets Second Baseman
In 2023, Major League Baseball will eliminate the shift putting more of a premium on defense up the middle of the infield. As a result, the New York Mets should really be considering making Luis Guillorme their everyday second baseman in 2023.
Part of the reason for this need is Pete Alonso at first base. While Alonso had a promising defensive 2021 season, he completely regressed in 2022 with a -8 OAA. It was the worst he’s ever been, and the Mets can’t shift away his defensive issues anymore.
Now, Jeff McNeil was a good defensive second baseman last season. In fact, he was Gold Glove caliber with an 8 OAA. That wasn’t exactly a fluke with a 4 OAA the previous season. That said, Guillorme is just better.
Guillorme posted a 3 OAA at second last season in 301.1 fewer innings. With more chances and reps, he would have posted a higher total. Moreover, he’s lightning quick on the double play, makes the difficult seem routine, and he makes the impossible into an out.
WHAT A PLAY BY LUIS GUILLORME!
— SNY (@SNYtv) June 26, 2022
To be honest, getting Guillorme’s glove onto the field has never really been the issue or a debate. Credit is due and owing to Buck Showalter for recognizing that importance over previous Mets managers, and we saw Guillorme have a strong 2022 season as a semi-regular/back-up player.
The issue has always been the bat with him, and certainly, people are going to argue they do not want to displace McNeil. With respect to McNeil, the truth is he’s typically hit better as an outfielder. In 2022, he had a .852 OPS as a second baseman. That’s phenomenal but not as good as the .863 OPS he had as a left fielder or the .896 he had as a right fielder.
That is McNeil’s career trend. As a second baseman, he has a .804 OPS as a second baseman. He has a .853 OPS in left, and a .860 OPS in right. This is probably the result of McNeil having fresher legs when he plays the outfield against second, but he has always been a better hitter when he has been in the outfield.
So, the move makes sense for McNeil, but that does bring the Mets power outage from 2022 into concern and the continued need to address it. Certainly, Guillorme and his .340 SLG won’t help that. That is true, but again, that is only part of the offensive equation. Another point here is how eliminating the shift will directly impact a player like Guillorme.
Guillorme is a player who sprays the ball around the field. Of note, when he hit against the shift, he had a .271 wOBA, but when there was not shift, he had a much better .313 wOBA. That pulls Guillorme more towards being an average hitter like his 106 wRC+ from last season would indicate.
Remember, that is league average offense at the bottom of the lineup. Guillorme isn’t going to strike out much, and historically, he walks a fair amount. For an eighth or ninth hitter, that is quite good. He can put it in play with runners on base, and he can help table set for when the lineup turns over to Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor.
Speaking of Lindor, he and Guillorme would be an elite combination up the middle. At a time with no shifting, they will be two middle infielders who can thrive without shifting.
Overall, Guillorme can provide elite defense at second at a time where the rules put an imperative on up the middle defense. He can be a very good eighth or ninth place hitter. His presence in the lineup and on the field can and will make the Mets a better team. As a result, the Mets really need to think long and hard about making him the everyday second baseman next season.