What’s not to like about the Pride of Whitestone, Mike Baxter?
The man could never play another single game again in his life and he’ll still be a celebrated Met for his lunging catch (which would knock him out of commission for a few weeks) that preserved the Mets’ first no-hitter thrown by Johan Santana.
Aside from that terrific catch, Baxter is making a name for himself with his recent play on the field. Baxter, who was initially used as a pinch-hit extraordinaire, is now finally getting regular playing time-at least against righties-and is pouncing on the opportunity.
For a season that is going down the drain, Baxter has been a beacon of pride for a terribly slumping Mets’ squad. With the Mets’ 6-1 defeat to the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night, the Mets have now dropped five out of their last seven games and now find themselves seven games below .500 for the first time on the season.
While the Mets struggle, it’s no fault of Baxter, who is doing his best to keep this team energized.
Ever since coming off the DL, Baxter has given this team a boost and even set a Mets’ record when he recorded five walks in a game vs. the Padres on August 4. In his last five games Baxter is 7-16 and has raised his batting average to .312 in the process.
Baxter is the ultimate gamer and he has become an integral part of the Mets’ offense of late. Just like Scott Hairston is a terror on lefties, Baxter is starting to become a nightmare for opposing righties. Against righties Baxter sports a sterling .338/.443/.500 slash line. Facing off against lefties is Baxter’s kryptonite, though, since he hast to get a hit off a lefty and has drawn just three walks in 12 plate appearances.
At this point, though, I’d rather have Baxter face off against lefties than having Jason Bay take his at-bats.
I don’t know if that’s more a testament to how much contempt I have for Bay or my curiosity to see if Baxter can right himself against southpaws.
It’s hard to say if Baxter is really going to be a fixture in the Mets’ future plans or if he’ll be anything more than a fourth outfielder and left-handed, pinch-hit specialist. Baxter is not one for power (he has yet to go yard this year and only has one home run in his career) or speed, but he is solid contact hitter who could spray hits to all parts of the field.
Regardless, watching Baxter play is one of the few bright spots in which has been an otherwise gloomy post all-star break swoon.
It’s nice to see Baxter get a chance to carve out a niche for himself and not only be remembered for saving Santana’s no-hitter. Not that that’s a bad thing.
Follow me on Twitter @Stacdemon