Over the past two years there have been a number of moments that will stick with Mets’ fans forever. One of those moments was the first career hit for Jordany Valdespin, a pinch-hit go ahead 3-run home run off of Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon last year. He instantly became fan favorite with Mets fans; as he went on to have a number of unforgettable at-bats as a pinch hitter.
The year 2013 rolled around and during spring training Valdespin was viewed as a viable option to win a starting job, either in center or right field. His path to becoming the starter was put to an end after the emergence of both Collin Cowgill and Marlon Byrd as options to start in the outfield.
Valdespin was once again placed back in the pinch hitter, 4th outfield and utility infield roles. But as any fan would notice, Valdespin’s ego does not match that of a bench or role player. He has the flare for the dramatic, plays the game how he plays it and does not care what the opposition thinks. Valdespin has been compared to Jose Reyes in terms of his antics on the field, and the comparison is valid.
Where it seems to fall apart is, while Reyes played for the Mets, he backed up his play with his numbers. Valdespin has yet to do that during his tenor with the Mets. During the current season, Valdespin is sporting a .214/.290/.369 line. Yet fans will continue to call him to play because he is exciting and fun to watch. And yes while that is all true, what the Mets are concerned about is winning ballgames not putting on a show.
His antics are only warranted if he plays well and can help the team win games. Celebrating up the first base line after he hit a home run while down more than five runs isn’t what a manager would call “helping the team”.
The problem is if his antics don’t match up with his level of play, he will have a short career here in Flushing. If he can turn into a .270 hitter with 10-15 home runs and drive in around 60-70 runs and have that clutch gene he has shown, he will have a nice career and help the Mets greatly.
To this point, that hasn’t been seen. Valdespin has never had a huge, long stretch where he has had sustained success on the offensive level. Adding to that, Valdespin is a below-average defenseman at best in the outfield. The addition of Rick Ankiel as a defensive option reflects the lack of faith in Valdespin as a viable defender.
While fans continue to scream for him to be played every day, Valdespin has yet to give Terry Collins a reason to play him. If in the limited time he plays, he proves to Terry Collins that he has the talent to be an everyday player than Valdespin will find himself in the lineup. Until then, the growing fascination with Valdespin will have to stick to Twitter.