Who’s getting the most playing time for the Mets?

We’re 12 games into the Grapefruit League season for the 2018 Mets and a two-game winning streak leaves the squad at 5-7. Few care about Spring Training standings and the number’s not significantly different for Spring Training stats as a whole. But while others take great glee in shouting from the rooftops how numbers in St. Lucie don’t mean anything, my preference is to dig deeper to see if anything can be learned in spite of the naysayers.

One thing I like to do is see who’s getting the most playing time. The thought here is that these guys have … something that the manager wants to see or figure out. And it’s likely that’s even more important this year, with a first-time skipper in the dugout. So, let’s take a look at the four guys who’ve received the most ABs for the Mets after a dozen games.

Wilmer Flores – 23 ABs, .217/.308/.261
In 2015 he became a lefty masher and during the 2017 season he started to hit against righties, too. But because of his defensive woes, he really doesn’t have a position. It would make sense for him to play a lot, so he could get some reps at the various positions he’s likely to play at some point during the regular season. But so far, Flores has mostly split time between 3B and DH. And there hasn’t been a ton of mashing going on so far, either.

Brandon Nimmo – 21 ABs, .333/.423/.762
The company line has always been that Sandy Alderson believes in power and OBP. But the latter one of those, at least here in his Mets tenure, has always been more lip service than reality. Nimmo did a fantastic job in a small sample last year of getting on base. The good news is that performance kept the club from dealing him in the offseason. The bad news is that it didn’t keep the club from signing power guy Jay Bruce. With injury concerns surrounding Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto, Nimmo could still see 300 PA in 2018. But with all of those guys under contract the next three years, it’s still an uphill battle for playing time for Nimmo. At least he’s getting on base and hitting for power when given a chance here in the Spring.

Zach Borenstein – 19 ABs, .211/.286/.421
A career minor leaguer, Borenstein was signed to provide OF depth at Triple-A. With Conforto just starting to face live pitching and Bruce slowed by plantar fasciitis early in camp, there were more PA available for outfielders here in the early going. Two guys who are tied with the fifth-most ABs are OFers, too. Shoot, even Tim Tebow has 11 ABs now. Undoubtedly, the whole organization was interested in seeing Borenstein get some PT, so they’d have a better understanding what they had. With a K rate over 30%, it appears they have capably filled the spot left with the loss of Travis Taijeron.

Adrian Gonzalez – 18 ABs, .167/.211/.222
Old, injured and lousy is no way to go through life. And while Gonzalez can’t do anything about the first thing, he can use Spring Training to show that he’s no longer injured or lousy. At this point we can say he looks healthy. He’s received nothing but positive press so far, which has only been helped by the bad PR received by Dominic Smith, when the youngster chose to arrive late for the first Grapefruit League game. Gonzalez hit a booming double in Tuesday’s game so maybe he’s shaking the rust off his bat. With older players, the fear is that rust is the only thing holding the bat together. Regardless, his veteran status allows him to be lousy and have his supporters say, “Spring Training stats are meaningless!” But the exact same numbers from Smith would be proof positive that he needed to go back to the minors. Oh well. He made a very nice defensive play against the Tigers and even before games started, MetsBlog’s Matthew Cerrone was raving about his defensive work in St. Lucie. Hopefully there are more doubles and homers left in the bat. Looks like he’s going to get every chance to show that there are.

11 comments for “Who’s getting the most playing time for the Mets?

  1. Eraff
    March 7, 2018 at 11:13 am

    I’m hoping that Jay B gets some reps at 1b…I beleive there’s a good chance that AG is gonna fail, and Smith may not be ready. That will open 1b to a JayFlo rotation, with Nimmo and Juan playing on Days that Jay plays 1st….. any 1b sitings for Jay B?

    • March 7, 2018 at 11:27 am

      No, I think they said he was only going to play there in a “pinch.”

    • Name
      March 7, 2018 at 11:42 am

      In terms of valuation, Bruce in the OF – mild overpay. If Bruce ends up playing mostly 1b – massively overpaid.

      Might have made some enemies in the agent world, but with the free-falling 1b market, i would have reached out to Duda and signed him to that 3.5 mil crazy bargain deal and said “screw you A-Gon we’re going with a sure thing”

      • TJ
        March 7, 2018 at 1:09 pm

        Excellent point regarding the Dude. A straight platoon of Flores and Duda, with Smith getting more seasoning, could have produced strong WAR out of the 1B slot.

  2. Aging Bull
    March 7, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    Is there any validity to the concept of trying Nimmo at 1B? Or is that a ridiculous idea? It would seem like a waste to take him out of the OF, but his athleticism might make him a better candidate at 1B than Bruce.

    • March 7, 2018 at 6:37 pm

      Hey Bull – good to see you in these parts again!

      I don’t think it’s ridiculous. The team should be looking for ways to get Nimmo on the field. But I don’t think it will happen, either.

      • Aging Bull
        March 13, 2018 at 11:43 am

        Hey Brian. I’ve been a loyal reader but just haven’t been posting. Mets360 remains the best in class blog imho.

  3. Mike Walczak
    March 7, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    I like Nimmo’ s game. Bruce to first, Nimmo full time CF and leadoff hitter.

  4. Geoffrey T
    March 8, 2018 at 5:29 am

    I’m not sure where you get the theory about playing time. There’s no set formula, the players who get the playing time may be getting it for different reasons, and the playing time priorities shift as the pre-season moves on. Generally, the veterans take it easy early on. So the team uses this time to look at new guys becasue they don’t know them yet, and at the kids partly because they know these guys are likely to be sent down earlier. By mid-spring, veterans start ramping up in order to get ready for the season. And in the final week, those borderline guys get a lot of time so the team can decide which ones to keep and which to cut.
    My takes:
    Re: Borenstein, he played a,lot early simply because he is new. But there are no plans for him. He’s demonstrated exactly why he’s a career minor leaguer, both in the field and at the plate and his playing time has diminished in recent days for that reason.. He is just filler now.
    AGon is getting a lot of playing time because he’s looked terrible at the plate and shown a very slow bat. Its improved, but very, very slowly. He’s going to have to keep batting (and improving). Flores getting more playing time because of Agon’s short-comings – Flo may have to be the starting 1B until AGon gets things going.

    • March 8, 2018 at 8:09 am

      You seem to want to argue with me while agreeing with me over the same points.

      • Mike Walczak
        March 8, 2018 at 11:13 pm

        Ok, lets have the Agon watch. How long before Agon gets dropped ?

        A. By June 1st
        B. By the all star break
        C. By August
        D. He makes it through the whole season.

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