Mets Have A Mark Canha Problem
The New York Mets have a number of offensive problems to start the season with nearly everyone struggling at one point. Singling out any single player is a big unfair, but like with what the Mets did with Eduardo Escobar, at some point, the team needs to know when to make a switch.
Right now, the Mets are getting into that position with Mark Canha.
Canha is a useful player on a Major League roster. He gives excellent at-bats, and he makes contact. He does find a way to get on base with a career 21.2% walk rate. He is a solid defender in left field, and he is a good base runner with some speed.
However, when you break it all down, we are seeing a 34 year old with diminishing skills. In some ways, he is the epitome of a Mets offense with has trouble generating power and scoring runs.
Per Baseball Savant, Canha is among the worst in generating hard contact at the plate, which is why his xBA, xSLG, and xwOBA are so low. He’s generating just 5.3% barrels per plate appearance. Keep in mind, that is not at all the worst on the Mets.
Last year, Canha got away with this same approach a bit for two reasons. First and foremost was his .309 BABIP. That was uncharacteristically high for him. He’s at .289 for his career, and with him at .262 this season, we are seeing a batter with a 96 wRC+ to begin the season.
Canha currently has a .690 OPS. Historically, he has a .741 over the first month of the season. Last season, he had a .792 OPS over the first month of the season. So far, he has not been the same hitter he was last season, which has been problematic.
Another reason Canha was so effective last season was the HBP. He’s been a pincushion his entire career, and he led the majors with 28 HBP last year. That was after leading the league with 27 the previous season. So far this year, he is “only” at two, which puts him on pace for roughly 12.
Now, the Mets could get away with this if Canha was an elite defender. He’s not. He was a -1 OAA last year. This season, he is at a 0 OAA while converting roughly the same percentage of plays he did last season.
Fact is, Jeff McNeil plays a better left field than Canha does right now. Looking at the roster, Luis Guillorme may hit for even less power than Canha, but he is a better defensive player (even if his -2 OAA at second is uncharacteristically low to start the year). The Mets also have the option of looking towards Ronny Mauricio at some point during the season.
Again, Canha has value. He can be the platoon option for Daniel Vogelbach. He can spell Pete Alonso at first. He can still play left field. The problem is he’s not hitting enough to remain as a regular in the lineup, and he doesn’t field well enough to carry a weaker bat.
By all accounts, the Mets can give him more time. Typically, May is really when he gets going in a season. He should get a couple of weeks at least, but at some point, if Canha still isn’t producing, he is going to have to sit for another player.