Taking stock: The Mets’ 2014 bench

Mets BenchNote: This is the final entry in a short series comparing (at a high level) where the Mets roster stood last year at this time and where it stands heading into Spring Training 2014.

We’re quickly approaching the reporting date for pitchers and catchers and the start of baseball for 2014. The off-season may not have gone as well for the Mets as some would have liked. It also may have gone better than some would have expected. That’s baseball, for you. Although the off-season is not over and the Mets will continue to make small additions to the roster, the big moves are likely in the rear-view at this point. So where does the team stand as compared to this time last year?

In this final entry we discuss the team’s bench.

The bench is certainly not the most interesting component of the team, but it’s an important part nonetheless. The problem when discussing the Mets’ bench over the last few years is just how much the roster has fluctuated during the season. Collin Cowgill was the starting center fielder to start 2013 until he wasn’t, less than a month into the season. Lucas Duda opened the season as the starting left fielder, until he got hurt and came back as a backup/part-time/something first baseman. Some of you may have already, for the sake of your sanity, banished the fact that Rick Ankiel started 20 games at center field for this team in the middle of the season from your memories. It happened, though, and you must come to terms with it.

That being said, the 2013 Opening Day “bench” comprised Mike Baxter, Jordany Valdespin, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Anthony Recker, and Justin Turner. Turner, Baxter, and Valdespin are no longer with the team, lending credence to the aforementioned roster volatility.

The Mets haven’t had the luxury of having a consistent starting eight for quite a while. Therefore, Terry Collins has had to mix and match his players to try to get something to stick. As such, players that started the season on the bench (or in the minors) became starters. Those that were starters became bench players (or were sent to the minors). This was particularly true for the outfield, in which eleven (!) different players saw time in at least one of the three positions.

With that in mind, below is a table of Mets players who were at some point a bench player, or a platoon player, or prospects called up for a cup of coffee.

Juan Lagares 421 .242 .281 .352 80
Eric Young, Jr. 418 .251 .318 .329 85
Lucas Duda 384 .223 .352 .415 118
Omar Quintanilla 359 .222 .306 .283 70
Ruben Tejada 227 .202 .259 .260 49
Josh Satin 221 .279 .376 .405 123
Justin Turner 214 .280 .319 .385 100
Andrew Brown 165 .227 .288 .400 94
Mike Baxter 155 .189 .303 .250 60
Anthony Recker 151 .215 .280 .400 92
Jordany Valdespin 144 .188 .250 .316 60
Travis d’Arnaud 112 .202 .286 .263 58
Kirk Nieuwenhuis 108 .189 .278 .337 75
Wilmer Flores 101 .211 .248 .295 54
Rick Ankiel 71 .182 .239 .364 69
Collin Cowgill 63 .180 .206 .311 45
Matt den Dekker 63 .207 .270 .276 56
Zach Lutz 26 .300 .462 .400 149
Wilfredo Tovar 19 .200 .294 .200 45
Juan Centeno 10 .300 .300 .300 72

It really is a rather large list. To be fair, we can probably remove the likes of Lagares, Young, Duda, d’Arnaud, and Quintanilla because they were mostly starters during their time on the roster. You can probably say the same about Ankiel and Tejada, too. See how this gets murky? Regardless, the only true bench player on that list who provided above average production was Satin with his OPS+ of 123. Turner provided a league average OPS+, which is nice from a utility player. Nobody else with significant playing time was particularly impressive. In fact, most of them were downright terrible.

At this point it’s really too early to even speculate who could be fighting for bench spots on the team. Several of the names in the above table will certainly be in the mix, including Satin, Brown, Quintanilla, Flores, Young, and Recker. Mets fans can only hope that whatever form the bench takes will provide more production in 2014, and having a fairly solid starting lineup could help with that.

6 comments for “Taking stock: The Mets’ 2014 bench

  1. Joe Vasile
    February 9, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Really enjoyed this series, Rob. I think your Satin, Brown, Q, Flores, Young Jr. and Recker bench would be pretty decent as far as having 5 guys who fill in well enough in a pinch. One thing to remember, is that if these players were capable (with the exception of Satin, for more complex reasons) of providing consistently above average OPS+-es, they would be starting players, not bench guys. An average OPS+ of say, 90 (to pick a number at random) wouldn’t be terrible out of a bench. Of those five players, Satin and Flores have enough of a bat to be better than league average, and I have confidence that Brown, Recker and Young Jr. can repeat their performances in 2014 if given the chance.

    The only issue comes in with the first base situation. The loser of the Davis-Duda competition will likely take up a spot on the bench (hard to see either one going down to AAA to start the season), which means Brown is probably the odd-man out. Bench depth is a good problem to have.

    • February 10, 2014 at 4:47 am

      Thanks, Joe! Very good point regarding expected bench production. Having them all hover around 90 would probably be a win here. The other thing I think is important to remember is that, for some of these guys, they might have just simply been over exposed because of the amount of playing time they ultimately got.

  2. Rev.Al
    February 9, 2014 at 10:26 am

    I thought for awhile? Turner /Baxter /Valdespin /Cowgill, were keepers. So! I will take off my G.M. hat now!

  3. Metsense
    February 9, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    The research that Brian and Name did regarding the outfield emphasizes the importance of bench strength.
    Satin appears to be a lock as the corner infielder backup and platoon first baseman.
    Recker and Teagarden are both power hitting backup catchers so having the loser as AAA insurance is a luxury along with Centeno.
    Eric Young as a 4th outfielder is passable if his pinch running abilities are properly utilized during the season.
    Middle infield backup should be Tejada but he is the starter. The most games he has played in any season is 114. This is a red flag to me because there isn’t any major league ready backup shortstop. It is one reason that Drew should be signed. Drew is not a difference maker but he would solidify and improve the roster.
    The 5th outfielder spot should go to the loser of the Duda/Davis competition because the bench could use a left handed pinch hitting power bat. In case of injury, the 5th outfielder would be called up from AAA, (denDecker, Brown, Puello). This is not the best solution but Sandy refused to decide how to resolve first base this winter.It is what it is.
    This is not a playoff team caliber bench.

  4. February 9, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Don’t forget about minor league guys they picked up like Anthony Seratelli from KC and Matt Clark from Japan. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Seratelli on the 25-man roster if Davis or Duda (maybe both) aren’t in Queens.

    • February 10, 2014 at 4:50 am

      Excellent point, Mike. It seems this team won’t be short on bench options this year. It’s more about the quality of those options, how to mix and match them appropriately, and if Collins can maximize their contributions.

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