Spring Training 2024 ends tomorrow, as the New York Mets face off against the New York Yankees at 1 pm, the Mets lineup seems to have sorted itself out. But not without some last-minute help.

Batting order, at least any sensible batting order, does not have significant effects on a team’s ability to score runs over the course of a season. Whether Francisco Lindor bats leadoff or third will not significantly impact the total number of runs the Mets score over the season. That applies to most of the lineup, given the players expected performances. The most common belief is Brandon Nimmo should leadoff. The biggest issue with Nimmo in the leadoff slot is his inability to steal bases. Nimmo’s on-base percentage certainly warrants a high slot in the order, but with the rules changes pushing for stolen bases – bigger bases, reduced pick off attempts – Nimmo on first without being able to advance to second on his own reduces his value in the top spot.  To be clear, this is specifically due to the rules changes tipping the balance of stolen base success rates. The Mets offense is going to need to carry the team, and whomever is in the leadoff role needs to steal bases. Nimmo’s easily the best at getting on base so he is the best candidate, but the Mets will need to push for more stolen bases. He also saw the most pitches on the Mets team last year.

Lindor stole bases last year, and one never wants to take unnecessary risks, particularly if the person at the plate hits lots of home runs. He is the best base stealer, but also the best hitter. He batted in the second slot for half of last year and in the third position for half of last year. The pressure on the manager on where Lindor bats will be linked to how the next hitter hits.

The next hitter in 2023 was Jeff McNeil, until his slump was just too prolonged. Pete Alonso hit fourth in 129 games. The last-minute addition of J.D. Martinez should ease some of the pressure on Alonso. Martinez is an extra base threat the Mets did not have in 2023. There were hitters expected to deliver, but never materialized. These are the players that have the experience and skills to hit in these slots, because Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty and Harrison Bader have not hit enough to expect solid performances. All of those possibilities leave out whoever is playing in right field. There are considerable hopes riding on Mark Vientos or Starling Marte, and neither showed much this spring.

Yes, the strength of the Mets is in the lineup, but it peters out after five good hitters. Marte has the speed, and historically, the ability to bat second, but was so abysmal in 2023, when in the lineup, he may not get another opportunity. Marte has struggled this spring and is healthy. He is also 35. In 2023, Marte also went 24-4 in stolen bases in his limited playing time. Wishcasting definitely looks for Marte to hit .270/.330/.440 and get 500 plate appearances. Vientos did not impress anyone this spring and will likely get more “seasoning” in AAA.

The lineup shapes up thusly:

Nimmo – LF

Marte – RF

Lindor – SS

Alonso – 1B

McNeil – 2B

Martinez – DH

Baty – 3B

Alvarez – C

Bader – CF

This is to be settled, but this provides a solid L-R-L kind of lineup, provides solid defense for the pitchers’ confidence, and should keep the pressure on the right players.

There are some glaring issues. Marte may be done at age 35. If he isn’t, then the Mets have speed and power at the top of the lineup. McNeil’s value comes from a high batting average. “McHits” needs to hit closer to .320 than .270 to provide the value the Mets need. There are not good back-up options at this juncture. Bader is not a good hitter, and he is getting longer in the tooth.  Defensive excellence deteriorates relative fast. If Bader is affected is to be seen. Baty hit well enough in Spring Training. He may be ready, and he is a year older.

What has not been discussed is whether Martinez is a mirage. His hard-hit numbers look strong, but one small item is the uptick in his ability to hit offspeed pitches. He can still mash a fastball, but vision and reflexes fade quickly as anyone approaches 40, and scouts and analytical teams notice Martinez is unable to identify breaking pitches and if he gets a steady diet, certainly with runners on base, he’s not going to deliver the promise his 2023 OPS offered. The good news is Tommy Pham, Brandon Belt, and Evan Longoria (~2+ WAR players) are still looking for jobs.

The season is nigh. Let’s go Mets.

9 comments on “The Mets’ lineup rounds into shape

  • David Groveman

    A little too much emphasis on the lefty/righty breakdown and you’ve buried Alvarez far lower than warranted.

    1. Brandon Nimmo (Almost Everyday)
    2. Jeff McNeil (Two lefties not ideal but Marte looks awful)
    3. Francisco Lindor (Almost Everyday)
    4. Pete Alonso (Almost Everyday)
    5. J.D. Martinez (Unless Francisco Alvarez proves better)
    6. Francisco Alvarez (Unless he forces his way higher)
    7. Brett Baty (Purely for the lefty bat and to keep the power rolling)
    8. Starling Marte (Looks terrible and may be swapped for a prospect soon)
    9. Harrison Bader (Solid Spring but expectations should be no higher than #9 hitter)

    If Marte continues his downward trajectory:

    1. Brandon Nimmo
    2. Jeff McNeil
    3. Francisco Lindor
    4. Pete Alonso
    5. J.D. Martinez
    6. Brett Baty
    7. Francisco Alvarez
    8. Drew Gilbert
    9. Harrison Bader

  • Metsense

    April lineup:
    1.Niimmo (L) because of his OBP.
    2. Alonso (R) because he is an elite homerun hitter that have more opportunity for at bats.
    3. Lindor (s) is a good switch hitter with power.
    4. Martinez (R) is a good hitter with power,
    5. McNeil (L) is a clutch hitter and 5th a the batting order is a RBI position.
    6. Alvarez (R) is another good homerun hitter.
    7. Baty (L) shows sign of life.
    8. Bader (R) He can hit LHP
    9. Marte (R) because he hasn’t been hitting so his base stealing should be utilized before Nimmo.

    If Marte rebounds then eventually move him to 5th and slide everyone down..
    If Bader if hit RHP then have Taylor get his at bats vs RHP. Taylor have even splits in batting.

  • Dan Capwell

    Nimmo and Lindor at the top
    McNeil in the #3 hole. As that spot comes up many times with 0 on and 2 out, I wouldn’t waste Pete in this spot. Put a guy there with good bat-to-ball skills (I hate that term), who can possibly ignite a two-out rally.
    Alonso clean-up
    6-9 depends on if Alvarez is in the lineup and how else is hot.

  • Woodrow

    Anyone else worried about McNeil?

    • Metstabolism

      Yes, he’s a question mark. He’s a good, not great player. He’s just about to turn 32, an age where players like that can start declining. Here’s an imperfect analogy, but one that is sitting in front of us: Joey Wendle is almost exactly two years older than McNeil. Look what he’s done these past two seasons.

  • Mike W

    I like guys at the top of the lineup who can steal bases in the top two spots.

    What is better, Nimmo on first with his .370 on base percentage or, Jett Williams on second 40 times a year but with a .320 on base percentage?

    I liked when Backman hit second in the old days.

  • NYM6986

    If Marte is healthy and remembers how to hit then I see him batting second behind Nimmo. We’d all like to see Nimmo steal 20 bases but whether he does or not does not detract from him being their best lead off hitter. Lindor followed by Alonso then Martinez when he gets back up. Alvarez bats 6th with McNeil, Baty and Hader rounding out the lineup. If Marte fails and McNeil remembers it’s an even numbered year, then he moves to the #2 spot. They still have a lot of offense if they play to their averages. It’s almost that simple.
    Let’s get this season started.

    • TexasGusCC

      If Marte is healthy and back, why can’t he lead off?

  • TexasGusCC

    Th alternative universe lineup:

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