It was not long ago that Travis d’Arnaud was regarded as one of the top prospects that the Mets possessed. As an organization, the Mets had not seen a productive catcher since the likes of Paul Lo Duca sat behind home for the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Before even reaching the big leagues, d’Arnaud drew offensive comparisons to Hall of Famer Mike Piazza. So far however, the only thing that has been consistent about his career has been his injuries.
Even through the minors, his injuries were a main concern. 2013 he made his debut however, and he is still a mainstay with the team. When 2015 rolled around, the Mets knew that they had to bring a backup in to make sure they had insurance for an injury however. After a couple of seasons from Anthony Recker, this backup came in the form of Kevin Plawecki. Plawecki, who quickly ascended through the minor league system after being a 2012 first round pick, played a formidable back up role to d’Arnaud. The 2015 season gave Plawecki his career high of 21 RBIs.
Since then, the two catchers have been seen as a tandem due to how often d’Arnaud misses action. Moving into the 2018 season, d’Arnaud is expected to be the Opening Day catcher. Plawecki is making Mickey Callaway think twice about that. Plawecki has had a stellar spring. His offensive numbers have sparkled, as he’s hitting .333 with a home run and 7 RBIs. Add this on to the fact that he has improved his defense and he has a serious case to be in the opening lineup, and not d’Arnaud. The play that he made when Harvey spiked a pitch to throw out a dashing baserunner at home plate was straight off of a highlight reel. Harvey pitched well in that outing as well, as he has slowly but steadily began to progress after rough outings to start the spring.
I am all for Plawecki getting more time behind the plate. Last season, Plawecki struggled to produce anything in the early onset. He was bounced up and down from Las Vegas, which must wear down an athlete after a while. When the season started to come to a close, Plawecki started to turn his game on. He ended with a .260 batting average, and an even more impressive OBP of .364. Both of these figures were higher than d’Arnaud’s.
Sure, d’Arnaud has spent more time in the major leagues. It is getting hard to be able to rely on a catcher that gets injured as often as d’Arnaud does though. I’d rather roll with Plawecki, who has shown solid offensive improvement, and has less of a track record of injuries than an oft injured d’Arnaud.
Now that Rene Rivera is gone, expect Plawecki to be receive more playing time. If his numbers stay consistent as they have been throughout the end of last season and this spring, then he may get more opportunities than d’Arnaud does. Maybe this competition will kick d’Arnaud into a better version of himself. Who knows. This team has been lacking production from the catching position for far too long now, and Plawecki may finally be able to pull through and do so.