For at least two years now, everyone has assumed that Brett Baty was going to be the Mets’ third baseman of the future and Mark Vientos was going to have to scrounge for playing time. And that may still be the way things play out in the long run. But Baty’s miserable 2023, combined with Vientos showing signs of life here down the stretch, makes one at least consider that Vientos could be the one to claim the starting job at the hot corner.

The Mets called up Vientos in mid-May and gave him sporadic playing time. The results were not pretty, as he had just a .229 BABIP along with a 28.6 K%. You’d have to hit quite a few home runs to make up for that combo and Vientos had just 1 HR in 49 PA.

Prior to his recall, Vientos was indeed hitting a bunch of homers, as he had 13 HR in 166 PA for Syracuse, along with a 1.104 OPS. It was nowhere near as rosy for him in his second go-round in Triple-A this year, as he hit just 3 HR in 98 PA and recorded an .831 OPS. Yet it was enough for a second tour with the Mets, who called him up the third week in July.

This time around, Vientos got much-more consistent playing time. And the results were … not much better. In his first 77 PA, Vientos had 1 HR and a .549 OPS. He had better luck with the hits falling in, as he posted a .284 BABP in this stretch. But once again, he was getting eaten alive by strikeouts, with a 31.2 K%.

Vientos was involved in a collision while trying to field a popup, one that landed him briefly on the IL. He did a one-game rehab in Syracuse and returned to the majors in late August. In his first two games back, Vientos went 0-6 with three strikeouts. But then things started getting interesting.

In his last 81 PA, Vientos has a .273/.309/.533 line, which is an .841 OPS. The hits are falling in, as evidenced by his .319 BABIP. But what really stands out in this stretch is his six homers. That’s the type of power you need to compensate for a 29.6 K%.

It’s a brief sample and essentially, we’re going to have a six-week stretch by the end of the season. Is it enough to be confident that he’s turned the corner? You’re starting to see people say that Vientos always needs time to adjust to a new level. And who knows – maybe that’s true. My preference would for Vientos to play Winter Ball this year and continue to hit home runs at a good clip.

At this point, we know Vientos is going to strike out a lot. We hope he’s going to hit a fair number of home runs. If he does, the wild card becomes what will his personal BABIP become? A mark in the .290-.300 range is normal for the league. But individuals can and do have marks that differ greatly from that. In 3.039 PA in the majors, Brandon Nimmo has a .332 BABIP. In 2,886 PA in the majors, Pete Alonso has a .259 BABIP. Those are extreme examples but an indication of the potential range of outcomes for established MLB hitters.

So, what might Vientos look like if he played a full season and hit 30 HR and had a .300 BABIP? One player who has come close this year is Oakland’s Brent Rooker, who has 29 HR and a .308 BABIP in 502 PA as an OF/DH. In his age-28 season, Rooker has a 125 wRC+ and a 1.8 fWAR. The problem is strikeouts, as Rooker has a 32.5 K%.

How important are the strikeouts? Kyle Tucker has 29 HR, a .283 BABIP, a 13.8 K% which has helped him to a 139 wRC+ and a 4.8 fWAR. It’s not all due to strikeouts – Tucker is a much-better baserunner and isn’t as bad in the field as Rooker. But again, these are extreme examples to indicate the potential range of outcomes.

Would you sign up for 575 PA and a 2.5 fWAR from Vientos next year? My guess is that most would say yes. So, how likely is Vientos to carry a league-average BABIP?

Some might think his minor league record might give us a clue. And the good news is that Vientos had marks between .311 and .350 at every minor league stop where he had at least 100 PA. But minor league BABIPs are not necessarily indicative of what players will do in the majors. We know that Alonso runs very low marks in the majors. But it was a different story in the minors.

In Lo-A, Alonso had a .357 BABIP. In Hi-A it was .314 and in Double-A it was a .344 mark in his stint with over 100 PA. Alonso had marks that essentially matched Vientos. Until they hit Triple-A. Vientos had a .350 BABIP in 427 PA in Syracuse in 2022 and a .340 in 269 PA this season in Triple-A. Meanwhile, Alonso had a .284 BABIP in 301 PA in Triple-A.

But Alonso didn’t play that level in Syracuse. Rather, 2018 was the last year that the Mets’ top farm club was in Las Vegas. It was tough for Alonso to post a high BABIP when he was hitting 21 HR in 258 ABs. Which one is more impressive, Alonso’s 7.0 HR% in 301 PA in the PCL or Vientos’ 7.8 HR% in the IL in 166 PA before his first recall?

Regardless, we see the first chink in Alonso’s BABIP marks in Triple-A, where he posted a mark 64-points lower than he did in Double-A. Perhaps we’ll see Vientos be able to top Alonso’s MLB BABIPs because he didn’t have that same Triple-A decline.

In 214 PA in the majors, Vientos has a .277 BABIP, which is right around the .280 mark that Alonso had in his rookie season with the Mets. But you probably recall that Alonso hit 53 HR that year, for a 7.6 HR%. Vientos has 8 HR for a 3.7 HR%. But as noted earlier, most of Vientos’ homers have happened in his last 81 PA, where he has a 7.4 HR%.

It’s wishcasting of the highest order to think that Vientos will be able to match Alonso’s power over a full season. Vientos is going to have to prove he can do it over a sample larger than 81 PA. But he’s not going to be able to add a ton more PA before the end of the season. Which is why my hope is that he gets more playing time this year in a Winter Ball league.

And while he’s there, he should look to make a little better contact, too.

13 comments on “Mark Vientos and the hope for a solid MLB regular to play 3B

  • James Preller

    I don’t think Vientos can field a lick.

    I do think the bat is real. I’d like him to make the team in 2024 and DH, while getting on the field for 30-40 games at 3B and 1B.

    See how it develops.

    I think Mauricio is a real possibility for 3B next season.

    Baty has to start at AAA. He’s been so disappointing, just mierable in every capacity.

    • Brian Joura

      Good to see you in these parts again, James!

      My impression is that both Baty and Vientos appear better in the field at 3B now than they did earlier in the season. And that my be damning with faint praise. But I’m not ready to give up on either of them being good enough defensively at this point.

      That being said, I could easily see Mauricio as the 3B next year. There’s just a ton of moving parts that it’s impossible to say what will happen until we have a better idea on what the 2024 budget will be. And by the time we know that, one of the internal contenders could be shipped out of town and an external 3B acquired.

  • ChrisF

    My kingdom for a 3B who can accurately and repeatedly make the throw to first. It astounds me that we have people at 3B that simply cannot do that.

  • T.J.

    None of us have a handle on the Met plans for 2024. At this stage, I have no problem with having a DH combo of Stewart and Vientos. I have a hard time seeing Vientos as a regular 3B. That 6 HR run is a real small sample, and I believe two of those were in Miami on 0-2 meatballs, but he hit ‘em. He still is behind frequently and overmatched by the big arms, but that power needs a chance. Given the uncertainty of Alonso’s tenure, and even if he stays, having a competent home grown controllable power bat would be very beneficial.

  • Footballhead

    Vientos will be the righty DH from the start of the year, and will be playing 1B when Alonso gets traded. Winter ball for sure, to cut back on the Ks; and sure, let’s see if there is any hope for his as at 3B (I doubt it).

    Baty may still actually surprise us and become the regular 3B. He too will need Winter ball and a good ST to make us all believers though.

    Again; better evaluators, coaches, and FO personnel might make a big difference for 2024.

  • Mike W

    At least we can look forward to an active off season. It won’t be boring. Not sure if either Mauricio or Vientos is ready to be the full time third baseman. I don’t want Matt Chapman. He is already slipping. Everything has to do with who do they sign as free agents. Still hearing rumors of Ohtani. Like we said before, the Braves let Freeman walk and trade for Olson. Look how that worked out.

    What if the Mets trade Alonso to San Diego in a Juan Soto deal? There are so many moving parts with this team that there is no telling what may happen. I’d rather have Soto than Alonso.

  • Mike W

    San Diego’s first baseman is Ji Man Choi. Now my question on a hypothetical trade is Alonso and Mauricio for Soto. Would you do it?

    • TexasGusCC

      No. I’d wait a year. But Alonso and Parada…. I’m interested.

  • NYM6986

    What a great discussion today. We worried about Alonso at first and lived through some growing pains as he became at least a decent fielder. Not as easy to do at 3B as that player has to actually field the ball. Can we live through growing pains at 3B? We need to move the Baby Mets forward so one of the guys discussed will be opening the season in that spot. Seems it should be Mauricio with the speed he brings and a HR bat that matches the others.
    Love the thought of winter ball to improve. Would like Soto but as a free agent. If you compare Soto’s stats to Alonso, and yes he’s only 24, it’s not a trade you should make. And OMG could you imagine Pete coming back to play with another team – I can’t. And I agree that Vientos could start the year as the RH DH. Would love to know what Sterns has in mind. We will find out soon.

  • Metsense

    I’m not giving up on all three rookies that can play third base. All of them had some good years in the minor leagues in the past. I just like them to earn a starting job and not get handed to them. The three of them should start out on the bench in 2024. Switch hitting free agent Jeimer Candelario should be signed to play Third Base . He can also backup first base and sometimes DH. Mauricio can substitute second base, backup shortstop and sometimes DH. Vientos can substitute at third, first base sometimes DH. Baty can can substitute at third base also and also sometimes DH. This free agent signing would add depth in the infield, the batting order and the roster. If a team is going to be a playoff caliber team it is best not to have anyone starting that has a sub 700 OPS player.

    • Metsense

      I don’t think the Mets will sign Candelaria but they should. They will probably have Vientos and Baty split the time at third base again and hope that one of them wins the job eventually. That would been Wiplonanion thinking. I prefer Cohen’s thinking, ” Hope is not a strategy”.

      • ChrisF

        Theres a problem with signing a short term 3B bu then stacking the guys that desperately need reps on the bench where they will never get the practice at MLB game speed.

        The thing is everything is faster in the bigs. This the throws cant be doubled pumped, you gatta charge every ball, you need grabbing the ball bare handed, and you need to be able to be behind the 3B bag and make a quick string throw to 1B.

    • Mike W

      After looking at Candelario’s stats, I would pass on him. He is a 20 home run 70 RBI kind of a guy. That’s really mediocre for first or third.

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