The Post thinks Mickey Callaway looks like a lineup genius

In the Sunday edition of the New York Post, there was a sports article entitled “J.D. Davis made Mickey Callaway look like a lineup genius.” This was a reference to the fact that Davis had a big day batting cleanup in the Saturday home game against the Nats, knocking out three hits including two homers. At this point Davis has shown he can be productive hitting fourth, at least against lefty pitchers. However, there is another aspect to lineup management besides the batting order, and that would include the positioning of players. In that regard, Callaway has not looked very genius-like in the assignment of positions on the field, at least with respect to Davis and Jeff McNeil.

Both players are knocking the cover off the ball, especially McNeil with his .409/.519/.591 slash line. Davis is producing as well, slashing .280/.357/.600. However, in the field, both have looked shaky at times, and there is a simple solution that a lineup genius should be able to figure out.

Davis has seen most of his action at third base, although he is a flexible player who has had experience at the corner infield and corner outfield positions, while McNeil is more of a natural infielder who has seen a lot of action in left field in the early going. Neither is fielding as well as their hitting, and the spots they are occupying in the field has a lot to do with that.

In the first game of the recent Marlins series, McNeil was playing left field. In the fifth Martin Prado lifted a foul fly into the left field corner, and McNeil got his glove on the ball but failed to catch it. It was not an error, but it was a catchable ball for a lot of left fielders. Prado, given second life, responded with a base hit.

In the sixth inning of the same game, with a runner on first, third baseman Davis fielded an easy chopper and then made a rather casual throw to second to get the runner there, but there was not even an attempt by Robinson Cano to complete the double play. Even more egregious was the following play, when base runner Rosell Herrera tried to advance to third on a single to right center. Mets CF Juan Lagares fired an on the money one hop throw to third, and Herrera appeared to be a dead duck. However Davis failed to come up with the catch. The error was surprisingly charged to Lagares, apparently because of the one hop nature of the the throw, although it was eminently catchable. Herrera eventually scored.

In the home opener, J.D. Davis pinch hit and struck out. He did stay in the game and he was placed at third base. The previous third baseman, McNeil, also stayed in the game but was moved to left field. McNeil fielded a shallow fly in left with a runner on third. A good throw could have caught the runner, but McNeil, not used to these outfield throws, made one that was off-line allowing the runner to score.

Then, in the Sunday game against the Nats, left fielder McNeil misplayed a fly ball into a double that allowed two runs to score in a game in which a Mets comeback fell just short. It was not an easy catch, but it was one that would have been caught by a lot of outfielders.

In the five and a half years that McNeil was in the Mets minor league system, he only played some nine games in the outfield, by far most of his playing time was at second or third bases. Both McNeil and Davis deserve plenty of playing time, but it seems the most bang for the buck would come with McNeil at third and Davis in left.

7 comments for “The Post thinks Mickey Callaway looks like a lineup genius

  1. gjbold
    April 9, 2019 at 9:22 am

    there is nothing wrong with either Davis or McNeils play in the field,,I saw both plays described above…Maybe Davis could have short hopped the play,but if thats all we have to complain about ,and obviously it is,no team moves guys around based on a couple of plays,unless you want more problems in the field….

    gj bold

  2. TexasGusCC
    April 9, 2019 at 9:30 am

    John, sensible arguments if the Mets weren’t expecting Frazier and Lowrie to join the team. However, with Frazier coming back and McNeil the better player, he will be forced into more left field at bats, so he needs to get used to it. If only Frazier could hit as well as he talks, there might be interest from another team.

    Too, while Davis does in fact grade out poorly as a defender at third base, he has played only about 100 innings at each corner outfield spot in the minors so he isn’t too well versed out there either. And although his strong arm plays better out there, what do you do when the other guys come back from injury?

    Would have been nicer to see Frazier as the rover, since he used to play plenty of outfield, but…

    • April 9, 2019 at 11:18 am

      Davis has more experience playing the OF than McNeil has so play McNeil at third and Davis in LF.

    • John Fox
      April 9, 2019 at 11:42 am

      Gus, I think Davis has played first base more than anywhere else with the Astros and in the minors, but 1B is not in the cards with Alonso and Smith

    • Bob P
      April 9, 2019 at 11:54 am

      I agree Gus. With Frazier, and at some point Lowrie coming back McNeil will be spending most of his time in the outfield. If that is going to be his spot, might as well get him more and more reps out there.

  3. Bloom
    April 9, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    Frazier is going to play 4 innings at SS tonight in st lucie.

  4. MattyMets
    April 9, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    My concerns about Frazier and Lowrie returning are two-fold. 1) How will BVW handle the roster crunch and 2) How will Callaway handle the rotation of starting caliber players.

    When the infield is healthy, McNeil gets pushed to the outfield, Davis and/or Smith gets pushed to AAA and Frazier gets pushed to the bench. Smith deserves to stay but getting him regular at bats won’t be easy.

    Watching tonight’s game only reinforces why I wanted the Mets to get Marwin Gonzalez instead of Jed Lowrie. There’s always a spot for a guy who can play almost every position.

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