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.