How many of you remember 1982? If you were a Mets fan, it was a season to forget, especially August, when they lost virtually every day. Regardless, 1982 is sort of significant today because of the season put up by Dave Kingman and how it relates to a player on the 2023 Mets. I’m going to post two stat lines and want to see if you can tell me which is Kingman’s in 1982 and which is Francisco Lindor’s here in 2023:
Player A – .204/.285/.432, 99 OPS+
Player B – .223/.294/.427, 98 OPS+
It’s hard to imagine what the response would have been if you told anyone who was a fan back in ’82 that one day in the distant future, the Mets would have someone like Kingman playing shortstop for the club. My guess is that we would have been happy, especially if you told us that he played Gold Glove-type defense at that key position. We didn’t think often of OBP back then and OPS+ didn’t exist. Instead, we would have been imagining the 37 HR and 99 RBIs Kingman had coming from a SS, rather than Ron Gardenhire’s 3 HR and 33 RBIs that the ’82 Mets had at the position.
But are we happy with Lindor’s season right now?
He’s been terrific in the field. At the plate he’s a member of the Mets’ not-very-exclusive Club 90, which is made up of six players who have an OPS+ in the 90s. Here they are, in descending order:
An OPS+ in the 90s is pretty solid for bench players Escobar and Pham. It’s not exactly what we want to see from four guys holding down starting spots. It’s even tougher for Lindor, whose sub-.300 OBP is found batting either second or third in every game.
Kingman batted fourth in 140 of his 143 starts in 1982 and batted third the other three times. That low-OBP, (relatively) high SLG should probably bat no higher than fifth in an ideal lineup. We saw Buck Showalter move Starling Marte, who is below the Galvis Line, with a sub-80 OPS+, down in the batting order to a spot more suitable for his skills. Will he do the same with Lindor?
Earlier in the season, we could say that it wasn’t happening, both because of the respect Showalter has for Lindor and for the fact that there wasn’t anyone who could realistically take his spot. But now, with the way that Francisco Alvarez is hitting, you could move him up and bat him anywhere from second to fifth and move Lindor down.
Now the question is: Do you want four Club 90 guys batting consecutively, or mixed in with sub Galvis Line Marte? It’s not an easy question to answer. We can hope for these guys to rebound closer to last year’s production. If we take a trip in the way-back machine to the faraway land of 2022, our Club 90 guys had the following OPS+ marks for the Mets:
138 – Vogelbach
124 – Lindor
121 – Canha
105 – Escobar
Life would be a lot easier for the Mets if the first three names on the above list would start performing like that again here in 2023. Perhaps Canha’s 4-RBI game last night propels him in that direction. It would be nice if Lindor joined him, too. Then we can forget that a comparison to Kingman was ever a thing.
Kingman was Player A and Lindor Player B.