As the Mets are winding down the season, it’s time for the former teacher to hand out their report cards. Let’s see how my grades stack up with yours…
The Mets as a team are entitled to a vibrant cheer for the entertaining and fun season they have given us. Individually, some have stepped up while others have fallen back. Grading or rating anything is, of course, a subjective task. But, here goes. See what you think…
Note: This is the second of three installments. Today, we focus on the Mets infield and outfield.
The Mets Infield
Robinson Cano – Second Base C+
Everyone is right, and I am wrong about Robinson Cano. Or, so it seems. His teammates are absolutely in love with him as a team leader. What I see is a player who pulls a hamstring and winds up on the IL in the middle of the season. Then, realizing he is missing all the fun when the Mets are in the hunt, he pulls off this miraculous recovery, rejoins the team with a lift of play that makes me wonder where he was in May. Cano is the Mets second baseman, no matter what. What the team gets out of him is a big fat question mark, though, moving forward.
Pete Alonso – First Base A+
Pete Alonso is a dream come true for the Mets and their fans. Move over David Wright, Alonso is the face of the Mets for the next decade. The accolades are too many, so I won’t bore you with the details. Improvement? Yes, there are many. Control of the strike zone is a must for Alonso’s batting average to rise. And, of course, there is work to be done at fielding his position. Overall – wow!
Amed Rosario – Shortstop A-
Of all the Mets position players, no one has improved more than Amed Rosario. Under the tutelage of Robinson Cano, the pair were almost inseparable since day one of Spring Training. You almost wouldn’t notice, but Rosario is on the leaderboard in the National League for total base hits. Moreover, Rosario is playing as though he belongs, a big step up from previous years. As one of those labeled and dreaded “Top Prospects,” Rosario has shed the training wheels. His ceiling has yet to be reached.
Todd Frazier – Third Base C-
The Mets didn’t have a third baseman this year, and I almost left it blank. Todd Frazier, with his injuries and streakiness as a hitter, leaves much to be desired if the Mets have an inkling to sign him for another year. A better bet is to take the money allocated for Syndergaard, Wheeler, and Frazier to go all-out to sign Anthony Rendon, who is having a breakout season with the National as a free agent to be. A hole that needs to be filled adequately, Van Wagenen has his work cut out during the offseason.
The exclusion of Jed Lowrie I’m sure you’ve noted. Lowrie would seem to be the ideal candidate to man third base as a regular in the Mets lineup. But it’s taken Lowrie a fully year, including at least two setbacks, to make it back into the Mets lineup. Thus, he must be relegated to a question mark for next season.
Jeff McNeil – Super Utility Man – A
Much like DJ LeMahieu, his counterpart in the Bronx, Jeff McNeil is a player with no regular position who will play every day – somewhere. If Van Wagenen falters in his quest for a third baseman, McNeil will likely start the season there. He’ll also spell Cano at second base and be on hand to play in the outfield as needed. A pure contact hitter, McNeil finished what he started last season, dispelling all questions about the Sophomore Jinx. While the Mets don’t want to interfere with his success, the word is spreading throughout the league about McNeil’s liking for the first pitch. He’ll need to overcome that tendency. Otherwise, he’s seen his last first-pitch strike in the big leagues.
Wilson Ramos – Catcher B
We’ll call this one a split-decision. Wilson Ramos gets an A for his offense and a C for his catching prowess. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and if two veteran pitchers on the staff say they prefer a different catcher, there must be something to back it up. You get what you pay for, though, and Van Wagenen (I hope) knew what he was getting when he signed Ramos. Callaway has no complaints, though, and he did not hesitate to write Ramos into his lineup with visions of run production dancing in his head. The Mets do not have a next-in-line catcher, and it’s a good idea that Van Wagenen starts penciling in some names to pursue for the 2021 season.
Mets Outfield – Report Card
Michael Conforto – Right Field A-
Michael Conforto has had his best year as a pro in 2019. He set a personal goal to hit 30 or more home runs and kept it quiet. He was injury-free and a constant in Mickey Callaway‘s lineup. Moreover, he seemed to relax in knowing what he can do versus what he can’t do on a baseball field. Reserved, Conforto stayed in the background giving way to Pete Alonso’s rise to stardom. A sure-handed but unglamorous right-fielder, Conforto makes all the plays he needs to make. A return to the NL All-Star team is soon in the mix.
Brandon Nimmo – Center Field Incomplete
Brandon Nimmo spent most of the season recovering from injuries. But when he came back, he was dynamite with something well over a .500 on-base percentage. Nimmo plays the game like the kid he is. He holds the distinction of having the fastest trip around the bases after hitting a home run in the majors this year at sixteen seconds. Conforto is more of a natural center-fielder, and the Mets might switch Nimmo with him during Spring Training. As long as Nimmo stays healthy, a big if, given his small stature, he’s plus-plus for the team.
J.D. Davis – Left Field B+
Surprise, surprise. Who would have known? Brodie Van Wagenen shines on this one, rescuing J. D. Davis from the talent-laden Astros. With a batting average over .300 in a little more than 400 plate appearances, Davis sprinkled in a reasonable amount of power (19 home runs and counting). Couple that with a .860 OPS, which is well above the league average of .745, and the Mets have the makings of an intelligent and hungry young man who has more than what we’ve seen. A rising star in the outfield, Davis is credited with eight assists and two double plays this season.
Mets – Reserve Outfielders
Juan Lagares B+
Juan Lagares gets a higher grade than is probably warranted. But his willingness to play along with the team and Mickey Callaway earns him respect. A whiz in center field, Lagares is often called on as a defensive replacement in later innings. At-bats are limited, and his job is to be ready at all times, even to the point of seeing his name on the lineup card on a rare day he is starting. An excellent clubhouse guy by all accounts, Lagares remains hindered by his inability to keep his batting average above the Mendoza-Line. A perennial topic in trade talks, this could be the year Lagares is packaged in a deal for bullpen help.
Dominic Smith Incomplete
Dominic Smith remains an unknown in the Mets plans. Sidelined by an injury, he has yet to make it back to the playing field. Smith took well to the Mets, moving him to the outfield as a way to keep his bat on the team (Pete Alonso). Smith is looking much more athletic these days and has worked hard to rid himself of baby fat, something no doubt in his favor and noticed by the team. Barring a trade during the offseason, Smith has unknown value to the Mets. For that reason, the team may wait to the trade deadline next July to see if Smith’s hitting prowess is real or not
Next Up – The Final Installment
The Bullpen & A Few Odds And Ends