To start the 2012 season the Mets have seen some positives and some negatives. David Wright has came out of the gate swinging a hot bat, then he broke his pinky, missed three game and when he came back he picked right back up where he left off. Jon Niese and Mike Pelfrey are throwing quality starts every time they go out there, and Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco are looking like a very solid 8th and 9th inning combo. The negatives are the Mets middle of the order. Between Ike Davis, Jason Bay, and Lucas Duda, they’ve only driven in a combined 17 RBI. Matt Kemp already has 22 by himself.
One player who may be surprising people with his hot start is Josh Thole. He’s hitting .371 with a .476 OBP. And though that OBP is help slighting by the fact that he sometimes hits 8th in the order, Thole has been hitting in the number 7th spot for most of the game this year. Also, three of his 13 hits are doubles, so he isn’t just slapping the ball and finding holes. When you look at his catching stats the number that stands out is three passed balls. Of course he does have to catch the knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, which was one of the major reasons he had 16 last year.
Right now Thole is hot, but I believe he has potential to be this kind of hitter. He’s a guy who can make contact, and hit the ball through the holes. A batting average around .310 isn’t something unreasonable for Thole.
I feel like a lot of people don’t like Thole because he isn’t very flashy at the plate. He’s not going to get up there and crush the ball. But the Mets really don’t need that. They have enough guys in the line-up who can drive the over the fences.
Thole will never be this highlight reel of a player. Since he’s come up I’ve consistently compared him to Jason Kendell, and that’s just the player he’s turning into. The problem is he is playing in New York under this huge media spot light. If he can’t hit .300 and he doesn’t hit any home runs, people will be wondering why he is on the team.
After his performance last year of hitting .268, many people wanted him out of Queens. But maybe the Mets have just been spoiled by good hitting catchers in recent years. Going from Todd Hundley, Mike Piazza, and Paul LoDuca, that’s some big offensive numbers to follow up.
Thole will never be this type of power hitter, so he needs to focus on being a gap hitter and getting on base. If he can keep it up with his extra-base hits, I think more fans will be stratified with his performance.
Thole is off the a hot start, and his .371 batting average will come down. But the important thing is he is showing people the potential of what kind of hitter he can be. He showed us a bit in 2009 when he first came up, and now he’s trying to remind us all again. Overall, Thole has help the Mets get to a record of 8-6, which isn’t too bad considering Davis and Duda are doing pretty much nothing. Wright will come down a bit from his hot start, and hopefully by then Davis and Duda will find their swings. Now I’m not saying Thole will hit .371 for the year, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he stays near the top of the list for batting average for the next few months.