The Mets have not had a ton of luck with their fourth outfielder here recently, a trend likely to continue with the signing of a declining Tommy Pham for his age-35 season. Here’s how other recent fourth outfielders, based on who made the Opening Day roster and who started the first game, have done for the club:

2022 – Travis Jankowski, 63 PA, 44 OPS+
2021 – Kevin Pillar, 347 PA, 87 OPS+
2020 – Jake Marisnick, 34 PA, 158 OPS+
2019 – Keon Broxton, 53 PA, 2 OPS+ (yes, that’s not a misprint)
2018 – Juan Lagares, 64 PA, 116 OPS+

By design, Jankowski wasn’t going to see a ton of PA, as he was going to be mostly a speed and defense player. And then he got hurt. Pillar got hurt, too, as did Marisnick. Broxton was just lousy. It’s tough to say who the fourth outfielder was in 2018, as Michael Conforto opened the season on the then-called DL. Brandon Nimmo got the start on Opening Day but it’s likely if Conforto was healthy that Lagares, who had 1,770 PA and a Gold Glove Award under his belt, would have been ahead of Nimmo and his 295 MLB PA in the pecking order. Lagares suffered a toe injury in mid-May and missed the rest of the season.

Who knew the planned fourth outfielder for the Mets was akin to being the drummer in Spinal Tap?

14 comments on “Wednesday catch-all thread (2/1/23)

  • Boomboom
    • Metsense

      A few years ago, Brian wrote an article about the importance of a fourth outfielder. I would appreciate if he provides the link to the article. It was an informative read. Thanks
      It wouldn’t be surprising that Pham and Ruf will make the list in 2023.

  • JimO

    Just saw that Khalil Lee story. I guess we would consider him our 5th OF?

  • Footballhead

    I never liked Khali Lee, he is the type of player I would avoid having at all cost. I just don’t like players; whether minor leaguers, or veterans; who strike out a ton…..unless you are homer crazy.

    I know you are suppose to be “innocent until proven guilty”, but the domestic violence charges should be the death knell of him.

    I would rather have Ruf.

  • David Klein

    Not big on Pham but his statcast numbers in chase rate, hard hit rate and exit velo look good and he put up 115 wRC+ vs lefties not bad though down from previous years. Oh and good column on Howie and his battle with cancer back in 2021

  • Paulc

    If an outfielder is injured and Pham gets a lot of PA without producing, then the Mets can always try to play Guillorme at 2B and put McNeil in a corner OF spot.

    • Brian Joura

      That should be the first option, not playing Pham.

      Last 3 years:
      Guillorme – 103 OPS+
      Pham — 93 OPS+

      I don’t think either player will be that good in 2023

  • Nym6986

    Neither Ruf or Pham elicits any excitement but let’s remember that they are veterans with a proven track record and if they could hit .250 with some power, it will be sufficient. Some better alternatives to Pham like Duval probably passed on NY because they wanted more playing time then they could get with our starting OF.

  • Metsense

    Thanks, Brian.
    Last year , Nimmo (151), Cahha (123), Marte (116), McNeil (47) and Naquin (41) played the most games in the outfield. This year Pham will place Naquin. Pham had a .653 OPS vs RHP. Therefore this year, McNeil (.869 OPS vs RHP) should remain the fourth outfielder. When Canha or Marte needs a rest then have Guillorme (.738 OPS) at second base vs RHP. Pham should only be the 5th outfielder and spend most of his PA as the DH vs LHP.

    • T.J.

      This seems reasonable.

      The Pham signing is a pretty big lightning rod, and it strikes me that we are overly concerned based on past history that is likely not applicable in 2023.

      Checking the Fangraphs 2023 projects, Pham is targeted on WAR ranging from 0.5-1.3, which is impacted by projected playing time. wRC+ appears to average around 100. For a non-starter depth piece, which is more of an insurance policy, that is ok. The insurance is more so against uncertainty with prospect development and limited organizational alternatives regarding AAA OF pieces that bat RH. The market value for 0.5 WAR or 100 wRC+ is in the neighborhood of $4-$6 million. I can live with that spend from the wealthiest owner to reduce the chance of automatic outs for a period of time, or worse, feeling forced to make another mid-season deal like last year’s Ruf acquisition.

  • JamesTOB

    In an unrelated note, I hope Joey Lucchesi makes the team and does very well. We gave up Endy Rodriguez, now the Pirates’ top-rated prospect to get him, and the Pirates’ farm system is rated well ahead of the Mets.

  • JamesTOB

    Given the age of most of the starters, I think the Mets should go with a six man rotation. The extra rest would help all of them stay fresh through the end of the season and post-season. It would also help Senga who only pitched once a week in Japan. What do y’all think?

    • Brian Joura

      I want to maximize the number of starts made by Scherzer and Verlander. How much evidence is there that a 6-man rotation will keep them healthy?

      In a 5-man rotation, there’s the potential for those two to get 33 starts apiece
      In a 6-man rotation, there’s the potential for those two to get 27 starts apiece

      I’d need to be completely convinced that a 6-man rotation would guarantee better health in order to write off the potential for 12 more starts from guys pitching at an elite level.

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