The first Opening Day of the Mets360 era happened in 2010. The Mets had strong teams in 2006-08, only to suffer an incredible number of injuries in 2009, which contributed mightily to a 70-92 record. Fans were optimistic that a return to playoff contention was on the table for ’10, even with Carlos Beltran, Daniel Murphy and Jose Reyes opening the season on the shelf. Here was the team’s Opening Day lineup:

SS Alex Cora
2B Luis Castillo
3B David Wright
1B Mike Jacobs
LF Jason Bay
CF Gary Matthews Jr.
RF Jeff Francoeur
C Rod Barajas

The ‘10 team finished with four hitters above a 2.0 fWAR, led by Angel Pagan, who pinch-hit in that Opening Day game, with a 4.9 mark. Wright played in 157 games and posted a 3.4 fWAR on the second year of Citi Field. The other two were early-season promotion Ike Davis, with a 2.9 and Reyes with a 2.5 in 133 games.

On the flip side, Castillo had a 0.4 fWAR, Francoeur had a (-0.1) in 447 PA and Barajas, despite a strong start, had a (-0.4) in 74 games before being sold to the Dodgers for an unnamed amount. It couldn’t have been much. Despite having 60 fewer PA than Barajas, Cora finished with a (-0.5) fWAR. Beltran missed over half the season and Murphy didn’t play a game in the majors.

The 2010 team went 79-83 and while it was a nine-game improvement over the previous year, it wasn’t enough for manager Jerry Manuel and GM Omar Minaya to keep their jobs.

We took that trip down memory lane to show a contrast to the type of lineup the 2023 Mets could put out there, should the big free agent signing of Carlos Correa come to a positive conclusion. For those reading this in the future, the Mets inked Correa to a 12/$315 million deal, after his 13/$350 deal with the Giants fell apart after concerns over an old ankle injury. Turns out the Mets had similar concerns and the deal is currently in limbo, although the scuttlebutt is that the two sides will come to a compromise and complete the deal with some new terms.

We used to think that how a manager constructed his lineup was a big deal. But the difference between the best and worst lineup you can construct isn’t really that big. And if you bat a guy with a high OBP in the first spot, the difference is negligible. Still, it’s fun to play manager and propose a lineup. Here’s one the Mets can throw out, if Correa ends up on the team:

CF Brandon Nimmo
3B Correa
SS Francisco Lindor
1B Pete Alonso
2B Jeff McNeil
RF Starling Marte
DH Daniel Vogelbach/Eduardo Escobar
LF Mark Canha
C – Omar Narvaez/Francisco Alvarez

Last year, Buck Showalter batted Marte second most of the year. That could still be the way things shake out. But Marte’s main interest was a consistent place in the lineup, not that he had to hit second. This lineup separates the lefties, except for the 9-1 spots when a RHP starts. But the Mets can PH for the catcher – something that becomes even easier if they carry three backstops – and if there’s any lefty on the team not fazed by facing a LHP, it’s Nimmo. So, if you have to have back-to-back lefties, this is probably the best tandem.

If the Correa deal falls apart, Escobar moves back to 3B, with Marte moving back to the second spot and Escobar taking the sixth slot. And Alvarez becomes the righty DH.

Looking back at that 2010 lineup, it’s a bit surprising how bullish we were with Barajas, Castillo and Francoeur expected to amass so much playing time. Reyes came back quickly to upgrade things from Cora but Beltran missing so much time didn’t help, either. But it opened the door for Pagan, so it worked out okay. Perhaps if Beltran was able to come back sooner, the Francoeur experience wouldn’t have been as long and painful as it was. And Bay suffering the concussion in July was essentially the beginning of the end of his career as a productive MLB player.

You can’t predict how long players will be out or when concussions will occur. But on Opening Day 2010, fans should have been worried about three positions without hesitation and two more with injury concerns. And while some bought into the Francoeur hype (read the comments) there were enough of us who knew he wasn’t good despite his brief success for the team in 2009.

That’s a lot of worry.

Contrast that with the potential 2023 lineup. Yeah, you’d wish for more homers and you’re dubious about C and DH. My belief is that those two spots will be okay, especially if Alvarez plays. My concern is LF but McNeil can switch out there if need be. Regardless, that’s a deep lineup, one that will be productive with reasonable health.

And the pitching’s not bad, either.

6 comments on “Comparing the 2010 Opening Day lineup to the potential one for 2023

  • ChrisF

    Like the difference between night and day.

  • BoomBoom

    i get why Lindor is in the 3 hole but he isn’t really a proto-typical 3 hitter. I would either bat him 2nd or 5th. McNeil would be great in the 2 or 3 hole, so if we want to split up lefties at the top of the order let’s go either:


  • BoomBoom

    i get why Lindor is in the 3 hole but he isn’t really a proto-typical 3 hitter. I would either bat him 2nd or 5th. McNeil would be great in the 2 or 3 hole, so if we want to split up lefties at the top of the order let’s go either:

    CF. Nimmo
    SS. Lindor (Switch) or Correa
    2B. McNeil
    1B. Alonso
    3b. Lindor
    RF. Marte
    DH. Vogie/Escobar/Alvarez
    C. Narvaez/Alvarez/Nido
    LF. Canha

    I like Canha and his high OBP at the bottom to turnover the lineup. Can’t really pitch around him in that spot and he’s always a tough out.

    I like this lineup as an alternative

    CF. Nimmo
    Rf. Marte
    2B. McNeil
    1B. Alonso
    SS. Lindor
    3b. Correa
    DH. Vogie/Escobar/Alvarez
    C. Narvaez/Alvarez/Nido
    LF. Canha

    A lineup with Correa batting 6th is deep. I mean real deep. With Nimmo, Marte, Mcneil setting the table, there’s gonna be a lot of 1st inning runs.

  • JohnFromAlbany

    One thing about Beltran’s return that season. Mets were 5 games out of 1st, 48-41, on July 15 when the All-Star break ended and Beltran came back. Pagan was playing CF but Beltran, bad knee and all, insisted on playing CF moving Pagan to RF. Coming back from a knee injury, Beltran showed he was no longer able to play CF and the Mets went 2-9 on that mid-July West Coast trip, and hovered around .500. They lost 3 of 4 to the Braves the last week of August to stay under .500 the rest of the way.

    • Brian Joura

      Call me crazy but I think the Mets’ 2nd half collapse in 2010 had a whole lot more to do with an offense that saw its OPS drop by a whopping 61 points on a team level than the defensive play of their CF.

  • Metsense

    Switch Lindor and McNeil in Brian’s lineup. McNeil has the better OPS than Lindor so therefore Alsono will have more opportunities to bat with runners on base. Lindor, behind Alonso, would allow Lindor to run more because he wouldn’t take away Alonso’s bat if he is thrown out stealing. Correa in the second spot has similar power and a better OPS than Lindor. It will be a deep lineup which ever Showalter chooses.

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