The Mets both have three third basemen to choose amongst for 2024. Or two. Or one.
“I like that we’ve got three nice choices,” Buck Showalter mentioned.
However what else might he say? He doesn’t wish to bad-mouth his gamers and/or decrease their worth for David Stearns’ new administration to do what it’ll do.
So I will probably be much less diplomatic.
Mark Vientos, beginning at third, performed effectively on each side of the ball Sunday, together with going 3-for-4 with an RBI in a 8-4 victory over the Reds. Nonetheless, I’m pretty assured he’s not even a chunk of the reply. The sport is shifting towards better athleticism and the Mets can’t maintain foregoing protection on the place. They’ve, for instance, had a destructive Outs Above Common in every of the final three seasons at third.
It was minus-9 this season (twenty seventh within the majors) with Brett Baty having began their most video games there (84), although he sat out his fourth straight Sunday whereas nursing a groin harm. He was personally minus-4. You by no means wish to dismiss a younger participant from enhancing. Wade Boggs, for instance, had the repute of a butcher within the minors. However by fanatical work ethic turned himself into a significant league Gold Glove third baseman.
Baty labored final offseason with Troy Tulowitzki to attempt to improve his protection. The outcomes have but to manifest. He does exhibit the fluidity of a superb third baseman. So how a lot would he need to hit to justify taking part in third? His 66 OPS-plus this yr was ninth worst amongst those that have batted as typically (348 plate appearances) — and the worst for anybody taking part in third commonly.
Bear in mind, hitting is meant to be his carrying device. Would Baty hit extra if moved to a much less demanding place equivalent to left area or first base? Would he hit extra in a much less demanding locale — would the Stearns administration, with out emotional ties to the present expertise base, really feel Baty’s greatest use is in a commerce?
The identical could possibly be requested about Ronny Mauricio. Would he be greatest within the outfield or in a commerce? Or can he resolve third? With Francisco Lindor on the roster, Mauricio is rarely going to play shortstop commonly for the Mets. He received the Dominican Winter League MVP getting about one-third of his begins at third and the Mets ought to see as a lot of him there as attainable the final two weeks.
It’s that point of yr when outcomes may be deceiving. However that is the one laboratory left this season and the Mets ought to collect as a lot data as attainable. The very best free-agent third baseman goes to be Toronto’s Matt Chapman, who after a blistering begin has hit .203 and struck out in 30.4 p.c of his plate appearances since Could 10 (he did have a walk-off hit Sunday). Subsequent greatest is Jeimer Candelario, who has performed as a lot first as third since being obtained on the commerce deadline by the Cubs. Each, particularly Chapman, goes to require the form of costly, long-term dedication that the Mets have indicated they are going to keep away from this offseason.
Thus, an inner resolution could be greatest and Showalter has overseen a profitable transition of a shortstop to 3rd a decade in the past when J.J. Hardy was his Oriole shortstop and Manny Machado was moved to 3rd. Clearly, Machado was extra well-regarded coming into the league. However Showalter additionally clearly likes Mauricio’s arm and aptitude. The query goes to be about swing choices/self-discipline and talent to hit effectively as a righty for the change hitter, who struck out twice from that aspect with runners in scoring place Sunday. He had two hits lefty and is batting .313.
The Mets should resolve this problem. The early many years of this franchise have been famend for being unable to adequately fill third base for a sustained interval, marked notably by trades in consecutive Decembers from 1969-71 for Joe Foy, Bob Aspromonte and Jim Fregosi; the Foy (Amos Otis) and Fregosi (Nolan Ryan) offers rating as traditionally terrible.
Since David Wright’s again failed him a decade in the past, the Mets have returned to principally a black gap on the sizzling nook. Solely Todd Frazier (2018-19) has led the Mets in video games began at third in consecutive seasons since 2015. The Mets have had eight gamers man third this yr. Solely the Tigers and Reds have extra, and Cincinnati (with amongst others) rookies Elly De La Cruz, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Noelvi Marte, Spencer Steer biking by have proven younger gamers can deal with the place.
For the Mets, Mauricio (18 innings at third) and Mark Canha (5) are the one 2023 third basemen who should not have a destructive Wins Above Alternative (Fangraphs) and so they have been at 0.0 — a becoming quantity for Mets third basemen once more.
That clearly wants to vary. Do the Mets have already got the solutions on the roster — or not?