Full-time players will surpass 500 PA in a season. A typical backup catcher will amass somewhere in the neighborhood of 175 PA. So, what does that make the guys who get in the vicinity of 300 PA in a season? Well, it could be a starter who gets hurt or benched. It could be a rookie who didn’t start the year with the team. It could be a guy either acquired by a trade or traded away. There are several different ways someone winds up with a PA total in the 300s.

The 2022 Mets had one player in this category – Tomas Nido. Expected to be the backup catcher, Nido got more playing time due to the starter being both injured and lousy when healthy. Nido was solid defensively but the less said about his offense, .600 OPS, the better.

The 2023 Mets have five players with a PA total in the 300s, although one will move out of that group soon, likely the next game he plays. But let’s look at all five and see how they’ve done. Are they like Nido a year ago or better or worse?

Player A: .218/.293/.444
Player B: .212/.282/.314
Player C: .245/.343/.381
Player D: .248/.301/.324
Player E: .234/.340/.405

None of these players have really distinguished themselves. There’s Player A’s SLG and the OBP for Players C&E. Those players were at least giving the team something. But Players B&D were just killing the team and they received far too many chances. Player D barely exceeded what Nido did last year and Player B was slightly worse.

It’s easy to be critical and wonder how on earth anyone could be so dumb as to give Players B&D a combined 689 PA. But we know that all players have peaks and valleys during the year and you need to give guys a chance to work thru things. Part of the manager’s job – assuming the manager has the final say on these things – is to have a feel for when that time is up.

Player B is Brett Baty and Player D is Starling Marte. They offer two different cases to examine.

Baty is the rookie who got off to a quick start and who played the same position that a guy on the final year of his contact, and one who got off to a poor start, too. It’s easy to see why he got the initial chance. And Baty hit very well his first two weeks in the majors this year, too.

The question is: How much rope did that quick start earn him? And replacing him didn’t get easier when they traded Eduardo Escobar, Luis Guillorme got hurt and follow rookie Mark Vientos wasn’t showing anything, either. So, the Mets gave him many more chances than he deserved before finally pulling the plug and sending him back to the minors. Baty came back when rosters expanded but he hasn’t been magically cured and now he’s nursing an injury.

Now everyone is wondering if with the way they handled this year, if the Mets killed Baty’s confidence. I used to be a big proponent of this type of thinking. Now, it’s my opinion, if that a player can’t handle a setback at the MLB level, that something was going to get him eventually. ChrisF has a somewhat different opinion but one that isn’t too far from my current take. Chris wants a player to experience difficulty in the minors and overcome that before getting promoted.

Baty has a whole offseason to reflect on what happened and to work with coaches to help correct any flaws and attack any weaknesses. It’s my opinion that with the proper work in the offseason that Baty can come back and be the player we all expected he would be at the beginning of the year, despite his colossal failures this season. Ultimately, my opinion is that it isn’t a death sentence to have your first taste of major disappointment happen at the MLB level.

Marte is a veteran, one with a history of success in the majors. But his failure was nearly as big as Baty’s. Conventional wisdom is that Marte’s poor year is a result of offseason surgeries. And there’s no doubt that those played into things. Still, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that Marte could still steal bases and look ok in the outfield if his injuries were the primary reason for his struggles.

My opinion is that Marte’s swing decisions were atrocious.

Perhaps you could argue that because he knew he wasn’t healthy that Marte had to guess more on pitches beforehand. But if you were guessing on pitches, you would expect more strikeouts looking and more power when you guess right. Neither of those happened. Instead, it just seemed like Marte made up his mind to swing, regardless of the type of pitch or the location. If he was guessing to compensate, he was a really, really lousy guesser. Someone should have given him guidance on how to guess.

From my office chair, the decision to give Baty so much playing time was more understandable than the decision with Marte. Perhaps both amounted to nothing more than wishful thinking. Yet the Mets painted themselves into a corner with Baty while they shot themselves in the foot with Marte. Neither is ideal; the latter is worse.

It will be curious to see which direction David Stearns takes the club with both 3B and RF. A team willing to spend money would import someone new for both positions. A team looking to contend in 2025 would give both players first crack at their old jobs.

Now let’s identify the other players with 300-something PA:

Player A is Francisco Alvarez, who has 396 PA. He had a swoon in the latter part of the season but seems to be fighting out of it now. His PA look good, even if the results haven’t been there. Should be the unquestioned starter next year.

Player C is Mark Canha, who was traded. Canha was losing playing time to Tommy Pham, who should have taken that time away from Marte, instead. Canha has done great with the Brewers, with an .875 OPS in 160 PA. Canha has a club option and if the Brewers decline it, you would have to believe that the Mets would at least be curious about a one-year reunion.

Player E is Daniel Vogelbach, who has the highest OPS of the five players. Yet he’s the one who has received the most vitriol from the fan base. Makes zero sense to anyone who tries to view things objectively. Vogelbach earned that derision the first two-plus months of the season, even if Marte was worse and seemingly got a free pass.

In his last 56 games – his terrible stretch to start the season was 47 games – Vogelbach has an .824 OPS. In a weird way, Vogelbach’s production here since mid-June is why managers give extended shots to guys underperforming. You never know when the worm is going to turn. But Baty didn’t do it, Marte didn’t do it – Vogelbach is the one who turned things around.

But people long ago made up their mind on Vogelbach and nothing he does could change those minds. He could date Taylor Swift, find a cure for cancer and homer in every game the rest of the year and those people would still complain about what he didn’t do.

And people will now fill the comments section, talking exclusively about Vogelbach. Let me save you the time. Everything you say about why he’s bad is true. He is a platoon player, he has no defensive versatility and he can’t run to save his life.

But instead of focusing on what he can’t do, let’s look at what he does. In this season where he was terrible for nearly half of his PA, Vogelbach has a .745 OPS. What if he isn’t terrible for two-plus months of the year? What if he put up an .824 OPS in 400-plus PAs in 2024? Pham had an .820 OPS this year with the Mets and that was a 124 OPS+.

Two questions leap to mind:

1. Who would you wager on having an OPS north of .800 next year if healthy all season – Baty, Marte or Vogelbach?
2. Why doesn’t Vogelbach get more credit for the adjustments he made in-season while the other two are given passes for stinking all year?

In a perfect world, Shohei Ohtani would be the Mets’ DH next year. If not Ohtani, the next choice would have someone who didn’t need to be platooned, which would free up a roster spot. But if those two preferred situations do not come to pass, then a platoon with two low-cost solutions is the next-best option. Now, you can argue that DJ Stewart has more upside and that what he’s done this year is more than a six-week hot streak. That’s a reasonable opinion.

But Stewart can’t play RF and DH at the same time.

9 comments on “Looking at players with 300 PA for the Mets this year and how their seasons measure out

  • Footballhead

    Yes for Stewart and yes for Vogie for 2024. Cost effective and with better handling, better results.*

    *Not every day players me thinks, but both better then importing expensive replacements, when $$$ should be spent on (at least) a decent bullpen.

    And I hope the Mets pass on Ohtani.

  • Metsense

    Great article.
    Baty is young and the Mets control him until 2029. Eventually he will get a chance again.
    Marte is injured and his advanced age probably will not be the player that him was again. If healthy he will be an above average player and a fourth outfielder. Stewart would be the right fielder. McNeil at 2B. Mauricio at 3B.Go and sign Lordes Gurriel Jr for leftfield . If you want McNeil in left field and Mauricio at second base then sign Candelario. They wouldn’t be that expensive and both can backup 1B also.
    Alvarez is the starting catcher in 2024. Nido should be the backup instead of Narvaez. In my convoluted thinking, Nido is better the defensively and if he plays against left-handed pitching then Alvarez can be the DH and you don’t lose him in the batting order. There are 7 million reasons that this is not going to happen.
    Vogelbach would be the LHB DH. Brian, I would agree on everything you wrote for Vogelbach. It was reasonable and correct.

  • ChrisF

    Vogelbach stinks no matter how you try to gold coat what he gives the team. Given all he things you are willing to discard, like what it means to be a baseball player in absolutely every other aspect, is pie in the sky. For him to be a productive DH with such a minimalistic profile to do anything else for the team, his ISO would need to be over 200, He needs to have an OPS+ in the 140s or more, and plowing out 30-50 HR. What we have is a barely distinctive offensive profile when that is his only contribution to the team. I’d non tender him for anyone that can be a DH *and* do anything else for the team. I will give you credit that you have a loyalty to Vogelbach, much like my gymnastics to make Lagares more than he was! No thanks.

    As for Marte, the guy should not have been playing at all this season. I think the swings we saw were the result of extreme pain as a result of clearly unsuccessful double groin surgery. It was agony to watch those ABs. It’s not a fair comparison. Im not even the least bit convinced he is gonna play again.

    • Brian Joura

      You go back and check the archives and you’ll see that I was opposed to the NL adopting the DH right up until the very end. But in a competitive situation, you don’t get any morality points for playing a well-rounded guy at DH. The only thing that matters is if the guy hits.

      The idea that Vogelbach has to put up an OPS+ in the 140s to be an acceptable DH is just ludicrous. There are 10 players in MLB that have a 140 or better OPS+ and the only one of them who is a DH is Ohtani. If you want to be taken seriously, you can’t suggest that the bar is set where the only acceptable performance is by one of the top 10 players in the game.

      I have no loyalty to Vogelbach. If he continued to hit all year the way he did from 5/11-6/7, I would have held the door open and cheered his release. But he didn’t. Instead, he made adjustments midseason and now is a very productive hitter. Furthermore, I have no problem if they replace him with a better hitter.

      But I’m not going to hold him to unrealistic standards and I’m not going to pretend that he’s not valuable in what he does. My positions on players are not rigid. I thought Tommy Pham was done and that signing him was a mistake. But once he started hitting, I wrote an article saying the Mets should make him a starter.

      I go where the evidence leads. I’m more interested in the Mets making good decisions than hanging on to my preconceived notions. The Mets benched Vogelbach for 8 days in mid-June. He absolutely earned that benching. And since he’s returned from that hiatus, he’s absolutely earned the playing time he’s gotten.

  • ChrisF

    I know you went down with the ship on DH. I guess I will never see the value in a guy that *only* can hit RHP and do absolutely nothing else for the team. He is the ultimate niche DH. He’s the LOOGY of hitting.

    But lets look at this numbers for a guy whose only task is to hit the ball and absolutely nothing else.

    2023 numbers
    bWAR = 0.2
    OPS = .745
    OPS+ = 105
    ISO = .172
    HR = 13
    2B = 8
    3B = 0
    1B = 64

    I guess I dont see much there to be overly excited about for a singular, highly specific, job. Nothing stands out as excelling at hitting in these numbers. Maybe 140 for OPS+ was too much, but surely the 120s and more would be important. And given he can barely jog, let alone run, the ISO should be higher so that doesnt matter.

    Overall, that’s not the production I need out of a DH.

    • Brian Joura

      What you claim you want is exactly what Vogelbach has given the club since mid June, when he has a .231 ISO and a 127 wRC+. Can’t calculate OPS+ so used this measure instead.

      He made the adjustment to swing more and focus on hitting the ball in the air and it’s been an unqualified success. He deserved scorn early. But that no longer applies.

  • ChrisF

    Im not interested in cherry picking the good stretches. This is whole year production. It is his only job. If you think 21 XBH for 5.5 months of DH is acceptable well Im not on that train. Id take Canha all day every day over DV even if he was just DH.

  • Brian Joura

    You’re not interested in cherry picking. OK, let’s look at it this way:

    You go into a restaurant on May 10 and it’s pretty good
    You go into the same restaurant on June 10 and it’s absolutely terrible
    You go into the same restaurant on September 10 and it’s pretty good.

    You write a Yelp review on September 20 and say the restaurant is absolutely terrible. You’ve cherry picked the one time it was bad and announced to the world that this is the way it always is.

    Vogelbach his first 91 PA – .812 OPS
    His next 106 PA – .589 OPS
    His next 121 PA – .833 OPS

    You say you don’t want to cherry pick yet you’re letting 1/3 of his season dictate how you view his entire year.

    The one thing that everyone should know is that players don’t perform in a narrow range over an entire season. You mentioned Mark Canha. Last year he was a below-average hitter for 20 of the 26 weeks of the season. Same thing with Eduardo Escobar, except his was probably 21 or 22 weeks. But they had a 4-6 week stretch that was completely unlike anything they had the rest of the year. Their end of season numbers were good. But their performance was worse than that the overwhelming majority of the year.

    We use full season numbers because we want to get the largest sample possible. And it works in the majority of cases, so long as the player didn’t have one stretch completely out of whack with what they did otherwise.

    Juan Lagares’ stretch in 2013 where he played out of his mind didn’t accurately define him as a hitter, even though it made his full-season numbers in a partial year rise to the Galvis Line.
    Eduardo Escobar’s big finish didn’t accurately define him as a hitter, as his .617 OPS this year will attest.

    And my opinion is that what Vogelbach did from 5/11-6/7 doesn’t define his season either. And unlike others, Vogelbach won’t have 500+ PA to cover the poor stretch, no different than Pete Alonso not having a full season of playing time to cover his terrible start to the season in 2020.

    But I’m done discussing this. I leave the last word on this thread to you.

  • José Hunter

    Good discussion on Vogleberg – both sides – and no mention of just how large and lovely he is

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