By all offensive measures, Travis d’Arnaud is failing to get it done. Never mind that he was a highly touted prospect for his hitting ability, let’s just look at him through the eyes of league averages as presented by Baseball-Reference.
|BA: .193||lgBA: .248|
|OBP: .281||lgOBP: .313|
|SLG: .298||lgSLG: .392|
|OPS: .579||lgOPS: .704|
Of all catchers in the NL who have at least 100 ABs (12 players), d’Arnaud ranks second to last to Yasmani Grandal of the Padres in both BA and OBP, and last in SLG. Let’s not forget his nine RBI so far this season, a number so low that it can’t even be written numerically according to this website’s standard practices. These stats come as no surprise to many of us who have watched him play over the last couple of months, and even going back into last season. But when you look at him compared to just about anyone else in the league, it’s tough to think he can continue this mediocre play, and get almost unadulterated playing time.
In case you think Anthony Recker is the solution, his .211/.250/.355 is not fairing much better over the course of 76 ABs. He has lots of power, but it’s too infrequent to make much of a difference. So then, what are the Mets to do with this situation? It seems that either they can continue on track and hope that d’Arnaud blossoms into the offensive catcher he was thought to become, or they can backtrack slightly, and give Recker roughly 50% playing time. That, however, might then negatively impact d’Arnaud’s player development, and send this situation spiraling downward even further.
Might it then be time for d’Arnaud to be sent down? Some may say this is too rash, considering he is just coming back from a concussion, and should be giving time to acclimate himself. Others think it’s high time for him to prove what he’s got, and since he hasn’t so far, then the majors might not be for him. Neither gives the Mets a lot of breathing room. So what options are left?
Juan Centeno has been hitting .295/.360/.352 out in Las Vegas, but put up only a .238/.304/.238 slash line in his brief call-up during d’Arnaud’s DL stint. Small sample size still applies to the diminutive backstop. There were some questions about his defense, specifically his throwing accuracy when he came up, and he offers little in the way of power. To be fair though, his line drive hitting style may fair well over a longer course in Citi Field.
The only other relatively available option would be to call up Kevin Plawecki from Double-A Binghamton. Plawecki has been hot of late, and has a .321/.351/.497 line for the season, to go along with 5 home runs and 31 RBIs. It’s not often that a position player is called up from Double-A straight to the majors, but this situation might warrant it.
It does create a roadblock of sorts though, for if d’Arnaud does get sent down, Centeno would see reduced playing time there. Unless of course, Recker was to be packaged with, let’s say Chris Young, and shipped off to a team in need of solid bench players. d’Arnaud could then go down to Triple-A, get his swing right, and Centeno could come up to backup Plawecki. Is it a perfect situation? Of course not, but options are limited.
There are some pluses to keeping Recker. He calls an aggressive game behind the plate and he seems to communicate well with the pitchers. But his all-or-nothing swing is something the Mets have plenty of right now. What they are in desperate need of is someone who can hit for average, and the combination of Recker/d’Arnaud is good enough for only 28th in all of baseball for BA and SLG, and 25th in OBP. Not to mention they have together driven in only 17 runs. It’s safe to say that a change, if not imminent, is at least getting closer by the day.
The Mets have plenty of questions in other areas of the game, but this one needs to be addressed soon. Recker is a nice backup, but the Mets don’t have a good starter, so the backup is carrying too much of the load. Meanwhile there are options, even if only temporary, waiting in the minors to help this ballclub out. Alderson hasn’t been shy about using the minors to bolster the New York team so far this year, but those have mainly come through the pitching staff. This could be the first big offensive call-up of the year. If it does come, let’s hope it won’t be too late to make a difference.