.557. .557 was the OPS of Carlos Zambrano in his first of three silver slugger seasons. Travis d’Arnaud had an OPS of .544, a number many call “atrocious.” At one point, d’Arnaud was the prized prospect in the Philadelphia and Toronto farm systems- and even ours. He was traded for two Cy Young award winners: Roy Halladay and our beloved R.A. Dickey. The only one that Mets fans care about is the trade involving the latter. This was a blockbuster deal that changed the entire system in terms of catching. At one point, New York had Josh Thole, Mike Nickeas, and Blake Forsythe leading the pack of catchers. Now d’Arnaud is the front-runner with recently drafted Kevin Plawecki close to the majors. d’Arnaud has not exactly lived up to the hype offensively and has completely failed as a hitter thus far in the majors, resulting in a demotion to hitters-haven Las Vegas. The Mets are sort of at a crossroads at this point in time: the major league team is in a free-fall and Kevin Plawecki is shredding in Binghamton. The Mets must now choose between the hyped prospect (d’Arnaud) and their homegrown golden boy (Plawecki). Here are some of the positives and negatives of each candidate.
Even though this kid has been completely putrid on offense, the defense has passed the eye test- as Mets have endured an endless amount of pass balls behind Thole. That being said, he has committed three errors. In addition to allowing far fewer pass balls, he also has one of the best framing abilities in the league. But once again that comes at a price, because he has become too focused on framing and has enabled 79% of base stealers to be successful.
His defense may be an above-average asset but his offense has been absolutely atrocious. His slugging percentage (.273) is absolutely unacceptable, especially from someone who had a career minor league percentage of .476. However, he did have a reasonable eye at the plate, with only 25 strikeouts in 145 PA and 16 walks in the same span. This shows that he does have something in the tank and can work a decent walk.
The main reason for his ability to stay on this roster has been his overall talent and hype. In the minor leagues he was able to hit at least 20 doubles from 2009 to 2012. With a .286 average and a .824 OPS, clearly the talent is present and it may be a matter of extra seasoning in the minor leagues to get him going. After all, he suffered a severe ankle injury last season, but was back in the majors after only 19 AAA games. If all goes well, he could be back by the All-Star break as a new player. Unfortunately, the possibility of him never figuring anything out and clogging AAA is very strong.
So far, the biggest knock on Plawecki has been his lack of above-average defensive abilities. While he may never win a gold glove, Plawecki has actually been a pretty good catcher. With a career .992 fielding percentage, he matches up pretty well. Yadier Molina had a .989 fielding percentage in the minors and a .994 in the majors. I’m not trying to say he will blossom into a force behind the plate, but he can blossom into at least average. He also has caught 32% of base stealers at the age of 23 while d’Arnaud caught 30%. Many Mets fans including myself have not seen Plawecki catch in person, but according to the numbers he is pretty good.
Now on to everyone’s favorite part, the offense and Plawecki has impressed. After getting off to an average start in 2012 in Brooklyn with a .729 OPS, he proceeded to break out and post a .305/.390/.448 slash line. This included an incredible 38 doubles and an impeccable 42/53 BB/SO ratio in today’s game. One thing that Plawecki has not done is the lack of homerun power. This has since been taken care of, already this season he has six homeruns. That projected over a 150 game season is about 19-20 homers. The Mets could be seeing a .290/.380/.450 hitter blossoming.
Catcher is a premium position and it is becoming more and more risky to play- making it harder and harder to find a great player for the position. Brian Mccann might even be the last quality catcher to hit the open market- and the only reason the Braves allowed this was because of Christian Bethancourt and Evan Gattis. The Mets had better find their man soon because it is becoming harder and harder to locate one instead of striking out.