We’ve heard a lot about the lack of hustle for one particular Met, a very well compensated infielder. But there are plenty of Mets who do hustle, and we’ll zero in on three of the current Mets who display the qualities of a hustling ball player.
Hustle of course, is not a quality that can be measured by a metric. Although you can’t quantify hustle, most fans know it when they see it. The definition used in this article is that a hustling player is one who does whatever it takes, within the rules, to help his team win. It includes, but is not limited to, such components as running hard to first base even on likely outs, making hard but clean slides into second to break up double plays, taking the extra base, diving for balls on defense, and willingness to take a HBP when necessary.
Center fielder Juan Lagares exhibits these qualities. Lagares may not have advanced with his hitting to the satisfaction of fans, but few of those fans would deny that he hustles in all aspects of the game. He had a signature play back in April in Philadelphia. Lagares beat out an infield single, a hustling play by itself, but there is more to come. After advancing to second when the succeeding batter walked, Lagares sprinted toward third when the next batter hit a sharp grounder to first. When the ball ricocheted toward the second baseman, Lagares kept on running and slid into home with the winning run in a 7-6 Mets win. It’s not every day you see a player score from second on a ball that does not leave the infield.
Just last week, in a win against the Giants, Lagares raced full speed though the outfield, crashing into the left centerfield fence to turn an extra base hit into an out. Lagares made an impression on the Giants, and a physical impression on the padding on the wall itself.
Next in our listing of hustling Mets is Jeff McNeil. His signature play occurred against the Reds on April 30. With two outs, McNeil dragged a bunt to the right side of the infield, which was handled by the first baseman. The ball was tossed to the pitcher covering first. McNeil raced down the line and dove into first base, a millisecond ahead of the pitcher touching the base. Normally it is not advised for a runner to dive into first, but in this case with the pitcher having a good chance to tag an upright runner, the dive was the right play. Lagares scored from third on the play, and that was the game winning RBI in a 4-3 Met victory.
McNeil does plenty of diving for balls on defense as well. He is not the kind of player who is going to be wearing a clean uniform at the conclusion of a game he is in.
Brandon Nimmo is another hustling Met, although he has had less chances to display his hustle due to an injury this year. When Nimmo draws a walk, he takes a page from the Pete Rose playbook and runs to first base. Nimmo is more than willing to take one for the team, as they say, he did set a team record last year for HBP. Nimmo was also the the 2018 Heart and Hustle Award winner for the Mets.
There are plenty of other Mets, notably rookie slugger Pete Alonso, who play a hustling style. So don’t judge the Mets on the actions of a few (or maybe just one player,) this is a hustling squad.