As snow falls on my backyard, spring is here. There are actual baseball games on the TV, cablecast live from points south and west. Think baseball is floundering? ESPN reported the Cardinals/Mets exhibition game two weeks ago garnered their highest ratings ever for a spring training tilt. The World Baseball Classic is in full swing, with teams representing Italy — with the Mets-flavored era-crossover of Matt Harvey teaming up with Mike Piazza to upset Team Cuba and Yoenis Cespedes – and the Czech Republic shocking those paying attention. The game is robust, rife with new rules, and one can hardly wait for 2023 to begin in earnest.

In Port St. Lucie, where the Mets tend to hang out, the buzz has been all about the Justin Verlander/Max Scherzer reunion, as it should be, but the number two storyline so far has been the batting prowess of the youngsters. Metsland is all a-twitter over the exploits of Ronny Mauricio, Mark Vientos and Brett Baty. Of course, the sample sizes are less than miniscule, and you always take spring stats with a grain of salt: who’s facing who, exactly? Mauricio can rake all he wants against the Braves’ AAA ace in March, but that’s a far cry from facing Max Fried in Truist Park at the end of September. That being said, spring training is all about “the look.” Do the kids “look” like they can handle MLB pitching yet? Are there flaws in their swings that need correcting? Is their fielding up to snuff? With a passel of the team’s regulars off representing their respective countries, the kids are getting a longer look than they normally would at this point in camp, and their abilities and shortcomings are brought into sharper focus as a result. In the Mets’ 12 Florida contests, Mauricio, Vientos & Baty have played 11, combining for 74 plate appearances, garnering 23 hits and five home runs. If these are to be portents, the future looks bright, indeed.

To shift the focus to one particular youngster, we need to revisit an historical issue for this franchise. For the first time in a really long while, third base is again a problem for the Mets. Yes, Howard Johnson and David Wright slew that particular dragon, putting a knife into the longest running LOLMets gag ever, but the dragon laid some eggs. After Wright retired, they brought in a shopworn Todd Frazier, not anyone’s idea of a long-term solution. Then, they tried J.D. Davis there and for a third baseman, he was a good hitter. Last year, they signed veteran Eduardo Escobar to solve the issue and he spent six months floundering before getting crazy hot in September to salvage his year. For his part, Baty came up from Syracuse and acquitted himself fairly well – in the power department, at least – before his season-ending thumb injury. Baty bats lefthanded, Escobar, right. Last year, the Mets’ struggled vs. lefthanded pitching, but the switch-hitting Escobar fared far better as a righthanded hitter, with an OPS of .827 vs, lefties, as opposed to a .681 mark vs. righties. As of this writing, Baty is sporting a spring OPS of 1.071, while Escobar is struggling, with a non-WBC OPS of .347.

From over here, the third base situation absolutely screams for a platoon, with Escobar facing the southpaws. I’ve focused on Baty, here – Vientos and Mauricio can also both play third – because he is the most accomplished fielder of the trio. Vientos has gotten his ST reps at first base and Mauricio is a shortstop by trade, but will likely be moved from there as he has virtually no shot to supplant Francisco Lindor any time in the near future.

All things being equal, Baty belongs on the Opening Day roster as Escobar’s platoon partner.

9 comments on “Making the case for Brett Baty

  • Denis Engel

    Absolutely agree. Baty’s swing plays in the MLB and “seasoning” him at Syracuse may hinder his growth as a player.
    The real question in my view is Ronny Mauricio. He’s blocked at SS and potentially at 3rd if/when Baty takes the job from Escobar. The team hasn’t positioned Mauricio in the OF, at least not yet. Maybe the plan is Baty in LF when Canha’s contract is up and then slide Mauricio to 3B. Another possibility is to keep Mauricio at SS, a premium defensive position, and use him as trade bait for a high end pitcher when Scherzer leaves/retires. Either way, it’s a great problem to have.

  • Jimmy P

    Baty situation is tricky and fans always tend to want to move faster than organizations.

    Can he, right now, capably field the position?

    And if not — if we hope and believe he’ll get better, but isn’t there right now — how do you pay pitchers $43 million for a season and not put a competent defense behind them? It’s not how baseball is played.

    I can’t assess how good he is right now, but the consensus is that he’s worse than Escobar, who is below-average.

    If we truly want him to be the 3B of the future, if we believe that he can be that, doesn’t it make sense for him to play a lot of 3B in AAA? Maybe Escobar is very good? Or, I’d suggest, the leash should be short. Escobar can’t go out there and be awful for four months like last season.

    I do believe that Baty already has a Major League bat.

    I don’t think this is an easy situation for the Mets to solve. A lot of their success last year — their consistency — came from playing good defense day in, day out. I don’t throw that away lightly. And I’d bet my house that Buck feels that way even more than I do.

    • Woodrow

      Defense most underrated factor in baseball.

  • Brian Joura

    I’m okay with any direction the Mets choose to go here.

    The last we saw of Escobar, he was pounding the ball, perhaps finally free from whatever family distraction that plagued him earlier in the season. I wouldn’t be happy if the Mets had signed Escobar in the offseason to block Baty but he’s already here and seems to be a positive influence in the clubhouse. Unlike an elderly infielder who was in camp a year ago, it’s far from clear to me that the bat no longer plays. In fact, I’d suggest the opposite with Escobar.

    But, man, Baty looks good – better than I expected. If somehow they were both able to play a full season at 3B, I’d pick Baty as the favorite to put up a better defensive season. Not that he’d be great, just better than Escobar, who’s a year older and defense is a young man’s game.

    I could see the Mets running some 3-D chess platoon at 3B, LF and DH, one not necessarily driven by platoon splits, especially since Mark Canha hits righties better than he does lefties. But just because I can see it, doesn’t mean the Mets would do it. Everything has to start with the Mets wanting to break camp with Baty. It’s my opinion that they came into camp with no thoughts of including Baty on the Opening Day roster. Perhaps he’s done enough to change their minds.

    But I wouldn’t wager on it.

    Edit: The three-position platoon would have Escobar playing at 2B, Baty at 3B and McNeil in LF.

  • Metsense

    Baty is a Major League hitter. He should start verse RHP 75% of the time. Escobar would have the remaining 25% and also 100% verse LHP. I platoon would take the pressure for Baty as he is adjusting two major league life . Baty isn’t defensively awful at 3B. He seems to have a good attitude and a good work ethic. His promotion would make the Mets a better team.
    The Mets should be grooming Mauricio as an outfielder and second baseman. He looks like he is maturing as a hitter.

  • NYM6986

    I like Baty but let’s not forget he’s made a handful of errors already and one highlight throw from behind third to throw a runner out. He barely played at AAA last year. Let’s take some of the pressure off him and let him play 30-40 games in Syracuse and continue to work on his fielding. He’s the future at 3B and while we know he will hit, we also need to know he will pick it at third.

    • Metsense

      This is the argument that Baty needs more time in AAA to get his defense straightened away. But what if it doesn’t get straightened away? Then what? Are the Mets going to leave him in AAA or changes his position to left field? I think not and he isn’t awful in the field. His promotion would make the Mets are better team than they are now.

  • Mike W

    In 2022, the Mets made 16 errors at third base. In approximately 700 last year, Baty made 17 errors. That is about a half of a big league season. Do we want a third baseman who may make 30 to 35 errors and would probably lead the league in errors?

    It’s a conundrum, because Baty has the making of being a very good hitter. Baty needs to work his tail off to improve his defense and he and Mauricio need to learn how to play the outfield. If Dom Smith can play the outfield, so can Baty and Mauricio.

  • deegrove84


    1. Keep all the kids in the minors. Escobar stays at third, Ruf, Pham and Vogelbach manage DH and David screams into the void.

    2. Just Vientos. This only works if you are going to give half of the DH time to Vientos regardless of the LHSP vs RHSP breakdown. Vientos can hit both (is better against lefties) but will not likely succeed in the short end of a platoon. If Vientos is in AAA you can have him play first base because any position is more than he plays now. If Vientos is on the Mets then Darin Ruf is not.

    3. Just Baty. This only works if Baty is the primary third baseman and Escobar transitions into DH and super sub. This can easily work as both Escobar and Baty have flaws defensively and Baty’s offensive ceiling is much higher. This would mean that Vientos would remain in AAA and that the Mets (who never get out of their own way) would leave Vientos as the 3B butcher.

    4. Just Mauricio. Ronny was moved to third in the DSL and seems able to field the position (certainly better than he can shortstop). Like Baty, he’d need to get a full time job to make this worth his time.

    5. Vientos and a 3B. Whether it’s Baty or Mauricio, the only way you can have one of them with Vientos in the majors right now is if Escobar is traded. You’d get pennies on the dollar.

    With all of these scenarios, whichever of Baty or Mauricio you don’t intend to be a third baseman needs to be immediately shifted into the outfield.

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