Just how important is Travis d’Arnaud to the New York Mets in 2014?

d'arnaud3While the New York Mets were making some splashes this offseason with the additions of Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon—and to some degree Chris Young—it’s going to be some of the holdovers from the 2013 squad that may hold the key to success in 2014.

One such player that could hold the key as to whether the Mets have a successful season is everyone’s favorite catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud.

In an injury-plagued rookie season, d’Arnaud failed to make a splash in 2013, posting a mediocre .202/.285/.262 slash line to go with just one home run and five RBI’s in 99 at-bats. Obviously, his transition to the big leagues was not seamless, as he had to overcome a foot injury early in the season. As soon as he was healthy and ready to go, he was thrust into the starting position almost immediately without much time to recuperate and get his swing down in Las Vegas.

At the time of his debut, the Mets still had John Buck on the roster and the Mets were still trotting out d’Arnaud for the majority of the games behind the plate. So, with Buck still on the roster, d’Arnaud had to look over his shoulder knowing that a seasoned vet was always at risk at taking back his job. That uncertainty was not exactly conducive for success. Eventually Buck was traded (which was long expected), but d’Arnaud never got into the groove of things and struggled mightily in his rookie season.

Certainly not is all lost, as d’Arnaud should be ready to come back in the 2014 season with some vigor. He could be vital to the Mets’ success in 2014. After all, this was a guy who was traded for R.A. Dickey and was the central piece of that deal with the Toronto Blue Jays—not Noah Syndergaard.

d’Arnaud has a good, developing rapport with the staff (Zack Wheeler, for one, had some very complimentary things to say about him) and how he builds on that could be of pivotal importance for the Mets.

How he fits in the lineup should be interesting as well.

So, where will d’Arnaud hit? He is probably best suited batting seventh in the lineup this upcoming season, as this will lessen the expectations and he could go about his business in a non-burdensome capacity. With David Wright, Granderson, Young and perhaps Ike Davis/Lucas Duda batting before him, d’Arnaud should feel more comfortable at the plate this season.

In any case, d’Arnaud’s progress is crucial if the Mets want to have a turnaround season. Obviously, his health is of critical importance, too, as his backups are largely untested, which Jim O’Malley explained in a fine piece earlier this week. Also of note was the Mets just signing Taylor Teagarden to a minor-league contract and inviting him to spring training.

While there may be still some growing pains to contend with when it comes to d’Arnaud this year, this could be a transformative season for the catching prospect. Here’s hoping it all comes together for d’Arnaud.

12 comments for “Just how important is Travis d’Arnaud to the New York Mets in 2014?

  1. Metsense
    January 8, 2014 at 8:35 am

    d’Arnaud must produce at least as well as an average NL catcher, (2013 NL AVG:17 HR, 307/379/686) to justify the Dickey trade. The more improvement above that, the better the Met record should be. Eventually he should slot in at the 5 or 6 slot in the batting order. He should start off in the 8th spot with Lagares 7th because he has better plate discipline than Lagares. I think it will all come together for him.

    • Marc
      January 8, 2014 at 11:15 am

      The avg catcher had 17 homers last season? The only catcher I found with more was Weiters (I didn’t check all)

      Personally I would trade D’Arnaud for someone more reliable healthwise. I know his injuries were accidents but, after 7 years in pro ball he’s had more excuses than successes of late.

      Baltimore has hinted they might move Hardy and Weiters in the right deal to secure payroll in the future. Hardy/Weiters for D’Arnaud/Wheeler/Ike or Duda plus one more pitching prospect.

      Not sure either team would do it but, if I’m the Mets I would

    • Bob
      January 8, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      What if he can greatly surpasses a .686 OPS (say a .725-.750) and calls a good game, wouldn’t he be a valuable catcher with far less than 17 HR (which I think is an inflated figure anyway – were there simply 255 HRs hit by all NL catchers?).

    • Metsense
      January 8, 2014 at 5:45 pm

      Of the fifteen NL catchers with 300+

      • Metsense
        January 8, 2014 at 5:58 pm

        Of the 15 NL catchers with 300+ plate appearences, the avg NL catcher hit 14 homeruns (209/15) not 17. Sorry for the faulty information.

        • Jerry Grote
          January 8, 2014 at 8:23 pm

          what do the top 15 catchers earn, on average? Isn’t that sort of germane, when considering the valuation of a trade that was essentially a salary dump?

  2. blastingzone
    January 8, 2014 at 8:45 am

    He may start the season batting 7th but if he gets off to a good start and C Young gets off
    to a bad one look for Travis to hit 5th and Young 7th! Travis will be the mets 5th hitter for
    a long, long, time!!

  3. January 8, 2014 at 8:48 am

    I’ve always been a Teagarden fan and I’m glad the Mets got him, even if he’s just insurance at Triple-A. A top notch defensive catcher with some pop, I’d much rather they pick him up than Buck. TC showed no control in writing Buck’s name in the lineup every day and he just doesn’t need to be tempted in that way.

    • Name
      January 8, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      Interesting you brought up the Buck point. We all thought Recker had it bad the first couple of months when TC refused to write his name in the lineup (he averaged 4 GS and 15 PA in those first two months) but eventually he got a lot more playing time after June.

      Well, Teagarden had it much worse as in the 4 months he was in the majors, he averaged 4.5 GS and 15 PA. Yes, he had Weiters ahead of him, but still that must be tough mentally to only play once a week and average a PA every other day.

  4. Patrick Albanesius
    January 8, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Of the 19 NL catchers that had 200 ABs or more in 2013, the average home runs were 11. And if d’Arnaud improves his plate discipline even a little over what we saw last year, he shouldn’t have trouble being in the .320 OBP range.

  5. Sean Flattery
    January 8, 2014 at 10:35 am

    He’s a huge X factor for this team and I’m very optimistic regarding him. I could totally see him batting second eventually too.

  6. January 8, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Every player that’s seen him play has been amazed at his hands, they are huge, powerful, yet
    very soft behind the plate. Accidents are accidents. Let’s see now that he’s healthy and
    gets a solid spring training what kind of player the Mets have.

    Signing Granderson was incredibly stupid. He is an old strike out king. He’s a bad version of the worst of Dave Kingman, less power, few doubles, worse ba, more Ks. What were they thinking?

    Singing Colon? A 40 year old pitcher? Los Vegas slots have better odds.

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