In some ways, Amed Rosario is one of the most important guys on the team. With no true backup shortstop on the roster, the Mets are counting on Rosario to stay healthy and be able to play in 150 games this year. And most feel if he’s able to duplicate his offensive output from the second half, the team’s lineup becomes even more dangerous. Rosario has started all 20 games this year, so he’s definitely given the club an everyday presence. But his offense is still up for debate.
While everyone talks about the strong second half that Rosario had last year, his post All-Star break OPS was .685 – just 17 points better than what he did in the first half of the season. Instead, Rosario had a six-week hot stretch where he performed significantly better than what he had done before or since. From August 10 to September 14, a span of 32 games and 142 PA, Rosario had a .333/.366/.526 line. Through games of August 9, he had a .620 OPS and from September 15 to the end of the season, he had a .538 OPS.
Rosario has 85 PA under his belt this season and checks in with a .263/.306/.388 line. It’s remarkably consistent with what he put up in 2018. He has a .125 ISO in both seasons, an 85 wRC+ both years and his wOBA is within a few points (.294 this year, compared to a .290 in ’18) of what he put up a season ago. The main difference so far is that we see Rosario with a higher K% and a higher BABIP than he put up a season ago. He’s not likely to produce a .357 BABIP over a full season. So, we have to hope he’ll cut down on strikeouts and add more power if we expect to see more production here in 2019.
CHECKING IN ON RAMOS – The Mets made a lot of transactions in the offseason and my opinion was that the best one of these was acquiring Wilson Ramos on a 2/$19 deal with a club option. They didn’t surrender too many assets to get another catcher or guarantee too many years and too many dollars to get the other top catcher on the market. And additionally, Ramos was going to be a big offensive upgrade while also bringing a guy who could help limit the running game. This seemed to check all of the boxes.
So far in 2019, Ramos has an OBP-heavy .723 OPS and is a guy who fans like to see come to the plate with runners in scoring position. But it’s not so rosy behind the plate. For a guy who was supposed to help control the running game, it’s hard not to notice that he’s thrown out just two of 15 players attempting to steal. That’s a 13% mark, compared to a career-average of 31%. He also leads the league with 4 PB and has allowed 8 WP in 133.1 innings behind the plate. And while it was never considered to be a strength, Ramos seems to be worse than advertised at framing. Last year he had a (-2.6) FRM mark and it’s already (-2.1) this season.
Lifetime, Travis d’Arnaud has a 22% caught stealing mark and he averages a WP every 26 innings and a PB every 145 innings. And he’s always been a good framer. So far in 2019, Ramos has been the offensive upgrade the Mets hoped to get at catcher. But he’s been worse than d’Arnaud defensively in all facets of the game and most fans consider d’Arnaud to be a lousy defensive backstop.
EARLY SEASON DEGROM INJURY – Most people lost their minds when it was announced that Jacob deGrom was going on the IL for a “barking” elbow. It got to be so much that Brodie Van Wagenen had to issue a statement to calm everyone’s nerves. While Van Wagenen delivered much more clarity to the subject than Mickey Callaway did, it was still a case of the media and fans jumping to the worst conclusion possible with limited evidence to support the case.
And we should keep in mind that deGrom went on the DL last year in early May with a hyperextended elbow. He missed a couple of starts and went just one inning upon his return. He still wound up with a career-high 217 IP and his season wasn’t half bad. Maybe deGrom has to be out longer than the anticipated 10 days. Or maybe he comes back and is incredible after the short time off. You know, like last year.
LEFTIES, LEFTIES, LEFTIES – The Mets cut ties with Jerry Blevins and brought in two lefties to replace him in Luis Avilan and Justin Wilson. Judging by their career rates, it looked like Avilan would be the guy you’d want to act as a LOOGY while Wilson would not melt if a RHB stepped into the box. And indeed, Avilan has been significantly better with the platoon advantage (.543 OPS against) than without (1.169) it. Yet we’ve see he’s faced over three times as many righties (32) as lefties, as Mickey Callaway has not come close to the Terry Collins usage pattern for his LOOGY.
Meanwhile, Wilson has been one of the most dependable members of the pen here in the early going. But it’s because he’s been murder on lefties, limiting them to a .350 OPS. RHB are having unusual success against Wilson, with a .925 OPS against. In his career, Wilson had a .635 OPS against righties, with last year’s .707 mark against them the worst in any season with more than 15 PA.
In an ideal world, the Mets would demote Avilan, call up their best reliever regardless of which hand he threw with and make Wilson their lefty specialist. But there’s no one worth calling up and they need the bullpen arms because their starters have yet to give them consistent depth. In the interim, here’s hoping Callaway has Avilan face as few RHB as possible.
THE ALWAYS IMPORTANT HITTING WITH RISP – The Mets’ offense has been better than expected so far, in part because of their performance with runners in scoring position. They rank third in the NL with 82 runs in this split. And the reason they’ve scored so many runs is because they’ve had so many opportunities. The Mets lead the league with 236 PA with RISP. It’s a far cry from teams in the recent past who found themselves hanging out with the Padres in terms of the fewest PA in those situations. They’re still middle of the pack production-wise (they’re 210 points of OPS behind the Phillies) but the extra opportunities have been wonderful to see.