Opening day for the Mets’ 2020 season is drawing closer. It is scheduled for March 26 at Citi Field when the Mets will faceoff with the defending WS champs the Washington Nats. It is likely the Nats will start right-handed ace Max Scherzer. Let’s see what the Mets’ batting order might look like for the opener.
1…Center fielder Brandon Nimmo. When he is healthy, Nimmo is one of the best in the game at putting up lofty OBP numbers, such as his .404 in 2018. Last year was injury plagued for Nimmo, but he did finish strongly, and he has been a beast in ST. He can hit, draw walks, and he gets an ungodly number of HBPs. He’s a good baserunner, he gets his share of extra base hits, and he just might end up being among the best Met leadoff hitters of all time.
2…3b Jeff McNeil. McHitz (he likes that nickname better than “Squirrel”) could plausibly bat anywhere in the top four spots of the batting order, especially after the way he improved his power last year with a .531 SLG. He batted first a lot last year, but now Nimmo is back. If new Mets’ Manager Luis Rojas wants to go old school, Nimmo and McNeil would make a perfect hit-and-run combo at the top of the order. McNeil does not strike out much, and with Nimmo in motion he’d have a big hole to shoot at. McNeil has had eye-popping batting stats in ST so far.
3…1b Pete Alonso. Alonso had a monster 2019, winning the ROY and crushing 53 homers. He knocked in 120 runs last year, and with Nimmo and McNeil at full strength setting the table, he just might top that total this year.
4…RF Michael Conforto. Conforto hit 33 homers last year, and his production was negatively impacted by a collision with a suddenly hustling Robinson Cano. Conforto seems to have recovered, and he is a dangerous hitter. One could easily imagine Conforto batting third and Alonso fourth, however with this lineup that would mean three lefty batters in a row at the top of the order, and there’s no sense making things easy late in the game for Washington Manager Dave Martinez, with regard to his bullpen management.
5…C Wilson Ramos. Ramos has some pop to his bat with 14 homers hit last year. He’s a subpar defender and he would have trouble bearing Bartolo Colon in a foot race, but he does get his share of hits, having put up a .288 BA last season.
6…2b Robinson Cano. After an underwhelming 2019, Cano is entering his age 37 season. His ST stats are not encouraging, they’re worse than the optioned Tim Tebow’s slash line. Earlier this month he was asked where he thought he should bat, and he indicated third or fourth, either one was fine with him. If he does bat third or fourth, we’ll know that the 2020 Mets are not a meritocracy.
7…LF Dom Smith. Smith is blocked by Alonso at this natural position of first base, but he did play a fair amount of left field last year, and he seems to be getting more comfortable there. He did damage in his playing opportunities, putting up a SLG of .525 in 2019. As a lefty hitter, he gets the start against Scherzer.
8…SP Jacob deGrom. He’s a decent hitter for a pitcher and he’s pretty good with fundamentals like getting down sacrifice bunts.
9…SS Amed Rosario. The Mets have dabbled with having a position player bat in the normal pitchers spot in the past, especially after the Joe Maddon Cubs had some success with it. Rosario is a good candidate if the Mets want to go that way, he’s got the best speed on the team, and he will get better pitches to hit than he would with the pitcher following him. He’s struggled some at the plate this year in spring training, but if he starts to hit like he did in the latter part of 2019, he will be hitting higher in the batting order.
Notable absences from this batting order include Yoenis Cespedes and J.D Davis. It is likely Cespedes will not be ready to play in the field on opening day, after his string of injuries over the past two years including heel issues and fractured ankles. If he’s on the roster at all, he might be able to pinch hit. J. D. Davis will get plenty of time in left field as well as third base during the season, but with a shoulder injury slowing him in ST and a tough righty on the mound in Scherzer, he probably won’t start in the opener