The most indispensable Met in 2020

No names. Pick which player you would want if you could only get one:

Player A:  Age 26,  248 PA,  .329/.381/.471/.852,  .359 BABIP,  7/8 SB
Player B:  Age 23,  249 PA,  .314/.341/.423/.764,  .362 BABIP,  8/13 SB

My choice is the second player just based on what we see above. There seems to be more growth potential and upside. It appears both are good players. Now, let’s add the names. Player A was Jeff McNeil in 2018 when he broke into the majors.  Player B was Amed Rosario’s last 249 PA last year.  My previous comparison was Rosario to Xander Bogaerts, showing that Rosario is on the same trajectory so far in his career. Now however, I’d like to point out just how valuable Rosario will be to the Mets this season and why banking on him seems like a good idea.

Every player grows and often glimpses of improvement can be seen, or even breakout, and the last two months of Rosario’s 2019 are showing breakout.  Here the target was a similar amount of plate appearances in order to show how close Rosario was to McNeil’s production, yet three years younger.  We all felt McNeil could have been a quality player based on that performance sample, so why can’t Rosario be the same?  Sure, there’s some prospect fatigue as Rosario has been around for three years and he has struggled on both sides of the ball.  But, good things may be coming and the Mets need it from him.  Truth is, there isn’t really anyone else to play SS full time.

In every position on the roster there’s a semblance of a Plan B.  Every position on the field has a backup or combination of backups, that can hold the position and give production close to the starter’s.  Every position except SS.  Let’s examine the backup possibilities:  Andres Gimenez hit .250 in AA last year; he’s not even MLB ready. Jed Lowrie?  Can he find a bigger brace?  And Brodie Van Wagenen doesn’t know how he got hurt, what is wrong with him or if he’s better – and that’s after not knowing what was wrong last year either.  That’s the GM, and he has no answers.  So can’t expect much from Lowrie.  Luis Guillorme is a nice fill-in, but that is because he’s sure handed. However, Guillorme has little speed, no power, and since he’s a second baseman, his range can be questioned.  That brings us back to Amed Rosario.

As it appears, Rosario will be batting ninth this season and is in great position to be a second leadoff hitter and set up the top of the order. That he will have one less plate appearance per game isn’t a problem because his power hasn’t shown itself yet and so the Mets won’t be losing production by putting him that low.  However, hopefully he has been putting time in the weight training room to strengthen his body and drive the ball better.

On the field, Rosario appeared to be much steadier as the season progressed out of the horrendous first month when he made seven errors in just six games.  After that, he only averaged two errors a month and didn’t have any more clusters of errors.  He still has issues going to his right, but in 2019 he also stood three feet closer to home plate on defense and was the third closest to the plate in his position (Ben Clemens, FanGraphs, March 3, 2020). That aggressive fielding will buy him time to make plays but limit his lateral range.

While we all hope Rosario can be the player everyone feels he can be, it’s important to just have him stay healthy because the other options are a big downgrade. It seems Van Wagenen has plenty of confidence in Rosario to not bring in a decent backup, or he feels Lowrie will magically heal.  Sorry, couldn’t resist one more joke.

21 comments for “The most indispensable Met in 2020

  1. holmer
    July 3, 2020 at 10:40 am

    I agree with everything except Guillorme is a very good shortstop and his range is more than adequate. At the ML level we only know him as a 2nd baseman but he learned all the INF positions in the minors to make him more versatile. That being said, his offensive production can’t replace Rosario’s.

    • TexasGusCC
      July 3, 2020 at 1:33 pm

      Good point holmer about Guillorme’s versatility.

  2. Dennis Spellman
    July 3, 2020 at 11:04 am

    The only problem I have with this is that Lowrie hasn’t been a shortstop in many years & at his age & injury situation I don’t think you could rely on him as a shortstop. If healthy he could sub at third base, first base, second base & occasionally at shortstop. His days as a full time player are over. You all are constantly coming down on Robinson Cano & he is still about ten times better as a fielder & as a hitter, I think it’s time to acknowledge that fact.

    • TexasGusCC
      July 3, 2020 at 1:39 pm

      Dennis, completely agree on Lowrie but not sure who you are comparing Cano to when you say he’s ten times better a fielder and hitter. This is SS applicable only.

      But, if you want to say that Cano is ten time better than his replacement would be, well his replacement would technically be McNeil, but figuratively Davis because an injury to Cano would mean Davis would now be included in the everyday lineup at third base and no way Cano is ten times better than either of those guys. Hard to even argue he’s better than those guys at this time in his career.

  3. Chris F
    July 3, 2020 at 11:41 am

    Until Rosario proves it’s more than a full season, I’ll take McNeil all day every day. He has the most advanced hit tool on the team. One ex-GM I heard say he has the eye of Pete Rose. I’m not a believer in the small sample size indicator. Rosario has a ton of potential. Before he’s “that guy” for me, he needs to do it for 700 ABs.

    • TexasGusCC
      July 3, 2020 at 1:26 pm

      I’ll respond to your comment Chris since you responded first and you made the point. I pointed out that I was scouting the stat line, not the names of players. Certainly, McNeil will have attributes Rosario doesn’t have and vice versa. This was just to point out that if we were happy to see one player’s results, a younger player with similar results should be even a greater hope. Not looking to compare the two players. My premise is that if Rosario goes down, it’s a bigger loss than any other player missing time.

      Brian, as I said above, I didn’t want to compare the players, just to point out that the stat lines were similar at a younger age.

      • July 3, 2020 at 1:44 pm

        An 88-point OPS difference is not a similar total.

        It’s pretty much the difference between Wilson Ramos and Yasmani Grandal. The Mets offered Grandal a 4/$60 contract that he declined while they offered Ramos a 2/$19 deal that he accepted.

        • TexasGusCC
          July 3, 2020 at 2:40 pm

          Again, indispensable, not better. I’m not arguing McNeil is a better player right now, but we could argue upside if you want… I wasn’t going there but simply used the comparison to show Rosario’s improvement to something McNeil showed at an older age.

  4. July 3, 2020 at 11:51 am

    I’ll second Chris’ opinion in his first sentence.

    But I’ll go one step further. We’re looking at McNeil having an 88-point advantage in OPS and for me the three-year age difference and better SB numbers don’t make up for that at all.

  5. Dennis Spellman
    July 3, 2020 at 5:29 pm

    At this stage of his career he is not better than McNeil but I was saying that he is better than Lowrie & by a large margin. You will see Cano bounce back this year as long as he can stay away from injuries. I also think as a hitter & a fielder he is better than Davis, Davis has shown one year of production & Cano at his career norm even considering age is still & will be more productive than Davis. Just my humble opinion.

  6. Name
    July 3, 2020 at 8:35 pm

    Sorry Gus i don’t get your initial player comparison.

    BA: A>B
    OBP A>B
    SLG: A>B
    OPS: A>B
    babip wash
    SB%: A>B

    What would lead anyone to preferring B over A when A has B covered in every single category?

    • TexasGusCC
      July 3, 2020 at 9:56 pm

      The closeness of the stats and a three year youth advantage. You wouldn’t want a 23 year old with those stats over a 26 year old with similar stats going forward, without knowing who they were? That was the whole point; the 23 year old will keep improving while the 26 year old is entering his peak years. Seems everyone is looking at the names and missing the premise. That this kid is definitely improving and hopefully will be that star we all hope for, and also the one player that the team can not be without.

      • Name
        July 3, 2020 at 11:11 pm

        Sorry, you’ve lost me if you think any of those stats are remotely close. Baseball is a game of inches which is also true for stats. A 5-10% gap is significant.

        Also, the title of the article considers the time frame to be 2020 and if that’s the case you would 100% pick the guy who outperformed the other in every single facet if you were solely looking at the numbers.
        Now, if you instead posed the question as who you would want for the next 5 years then you’ve got a credible case.

        • July 4, 2020 at 12:18 am

          To be fair to Gus – I put the year in the title.

          But, if you want to look several years down the road, there’s going to be Gimenez and Mauricio challenging for the SS position. Whatever edge Rosario holds right now is that there’s no one else really on the roster to play the position. In 2022 or 2023 that’s no longer the case.

        • TexasGusCC
          July 4, 2020 at 1:40 am

          Name, the title is actually perfect. Brian fixed it for me. Rosario is more indispensable than McNeil to this team this year. If they lose McNeil, they can get by without a big drop off. If they lose Rosario, the drop off is greater to his backup than McNeil’s.

          Those stats were from two years ago, and I’m using them to show progress and opportunity for growth. However, I’m not arguing who is better, I’m arguing who is more indispensable.

          Too, by saying that you think Rosario may – just may – be more valuable in five years, you are actually agreeing with me!

  7. Eraff
    July 4, 2020 at 6:26 am

    The idea that you’d choose “Player 2” just on the Stat Line????…. obviously, the only stat that’s better is the Age of the player.

  8. Billy S
    July 4, 2020 at 11:25 am

    2019 Stats;
    Player A: Age 27, 567 PA, .318/.384/.531/.916, .337 BABIP, 5/11 SB
    Player B: Age 24, 655 PA, .287/.323/.432/.755, .338 BABIP, 19/29 SB

    Not sure why you used 2018 stats but lets see how your thoughts actually translated….by using 2019 stats! Player A still exceeds player B, considerably.

    Plus player A turned out to be an All Star and had a war of 4.9 vs player B at 2.4

    Sorry but the team is in worse shape if they lose player A vs player B any day of the week in 2020. Player A could move over to SS and fake it and still be more valuable.

    • July 4, 2020 at 11:37 am

      Interesting thought about McNeil at SS.

      Last year, the worst defensive performance by a SS with at least 300 innings at the position was the (-14) DRS of Xander Bogaerts. Rosario was the fourth-worst at (-10). Could McNeil play the position and put up a (-20) in Rosario’s amount of innings? Not sure which way I’d want to wager on that one. I believe in McNeil but when he first went to the outfield last year – a position he played in college – he looked awful. He got a lot better as the season progressed. Just not sure how quick the adjustment for him would be at a position he hadn’t played at least since high school, if not earlier than that.

      • Billy S
        July 4, 2020 at 11:56 am

        I don’t think McNeil would be an All Star at SS but look what he did when they threw him in the outfield last year! Maybe didn’t look good at first but he was the best defensive player (by DRS) the Mets had at several positions including some incredible plays! The diving catch into the netting in right was outstanding from a guy who was playing “out of position”.

        The dude is a gamer who knows how to play. He just gets the game and knows what needs to be done at any position they put him at. That is the unteachable stuff that makes him far more indispensable!

  9. Metsense
    July 4, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    The most indispensable Met is Jacob deGrom. Imagine Walter Lockett and Corey Oswald pitching instead of deGrom every fifth day.
    Even among position player Ramos is the most indispensable than Rosario.
    Rosario .755 OPS > Guillorme .684 OPS
    Ramos .768 OPS > Nido .547 OPS
    I hope that Rosario still improves but at this point of his career he is just an average shortstop.

    • TJ
      July 5, 2020 at 8:26 am

      Agreed

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