Spring Training 2023 was an entirely different world for the New York Mets. We had two veteran Aces who had proven track records of success, we were the most expensive team in baseball and the Mets were supposed to be World Series contenders and the Mets had four top prospects at the cusp of the majors. Brett Baty, Francisco Alvarez, Mark Vientos and Ronny Mauricio were each on the doorstep of contributing and there was a ton of hope among fans.

Going into last season Brett Baty and Mark Vientos were on fire. The Mets made a poor decision in starting both players in AAA so fans could watch the veterans struggle to generate offense. Baty kept up his pace and forced the Mets to act, becoming a Golden Boy for several weeks of the season. He then came crashing back to earth and watched as fans completely soured on him. It didn’t help that his mediocre fielding ratings appeared too high as he struggled to field his position.

Francisco Alvarez, on the other hand, had a mediocre Spring Training and didn’t get off to a flying start in AAA but was promoted due to Omar Narvaez getting hurt. In contrast to Baty, Alvarez showed a ton of poise, silencing the critics who questioned his defense. Alvarez buckled in through the season to show a ridiculous ton of power, getting clutch RBIs for the ballclub and establishing himself a much more loyal following.

Vientos was a third and perhaps more frustrating storyline. He produced solid numbers in AAA and was called up to the majors but the Mets seemed disinclined to actually let him get a full shot at the DH position. A failed experiment in platooning the DH and getting Daniel Vogelbach to perform relegated Vientos to an extreme part time role even as his stats showed slight improvement later in the season with increased playing time.

Mauricio came into 2023 with a lot of positive momentum. He had a perfectly respectable (too many strikeouts) year in AA Binghamton in 2022 followed by a tremendous performance for Licey in the Dominican Winter League. He still lacked a natural position but it seemed the Mets had a ton of hitting talent on the way. Once in AAA, Mauricio did nothing but demand promotion and get ignored. He obliterated his expectations offensively and cut his Ks to a manageable level but only got 26 games for the Mets in the late months of the season.

Sadly, he injured himself in the offseason but the Mets hope to have him back before the season’s end. For the other players noted above, their expectations in 2024 are wildly different than they had been in 2023.

Brett Baty – During the offseason, there were several narratives involving the Mets signing players who would provide insurance for Baty should his 2023 struggles follow him into the new year. Names like Gio Urshela and, to an extent, Justin Turner surfaced time and time again. Ultimately, the Mets decided to give their once top prospect another shot at securing the position as David Stearns and Steve Cohen look at 2024 as a transition year.

With the job fairly firm in his grasp, Baty has had a promising spring. His numbers don’t scream that he’s a future legend but he seems to be showing a touch more consistency at the plate and hasn’t looked like a cement gloved butcher in the field. I still have concerns about the Mets and their love of matchups. I could see the Mets starting Vientos against lefty starters despite his abysmal defense but unless something changes the Mets seem set to give Baty his shot.

My goal for Baty is simple. I want him to earn his current role on the team by producing a batting line that will slide him into the middle of the batting order. Pete Alonso and Francisco Alvarez are locked into the heart of the order but I do not believe that Starling Marte or Jeff McNeil have the power to fit into a lineup behind them. That role would make a lot more sense with Baty who still projects to have significant power potential. Adding to this that being a lefty will help break up the lineup nicely.

Francisco Alvarez – The expectations for Alvarez are more straightforward and sky high. Alvarez hit for a ton of power and showed solid defensive skills but had more Ks and a lower batting average than people were hoping for. In 2024, as has been shown in the Spring, the goal is for him to carry a significantly higher batting average and to be among the largest producers of power and RBI production on the team. The goal for Alvarez is that he makes the All-Star team and becomes the star player then Mets expect him to be.

Mark Vientos – The 2024 goal for Vientos just got completely overhauled by a late offseason signing. With JD Martinez on the Mets the team has a bonafide DH and Vientos will not yet get a shot at earning the job. This should hold Vientos in AAA for much of the year but he remains a potent bat that the Mets will need to consider promoting. The goal I’d have for Vientos would be to find any sort of defensive home. Even if it’s first base, the Mets need Vientos (who is physically fit and capable) to be able to field the ball even a little bit. He’s a step behind Brett Baty at third (which is a low bar) and he’s been a failure in the outfield but the Mets could have Drew Gilbert and Luisangel Acuna in the outfield for AAA and that could be beneficial to Vientos if he gets another try.

Ronny Mauricio – Just get healthy and back in the lineup. If the Mets are in the mix, Mauricio’s bat could be a free infusion later in the year.

11 comments on “Goals for Brett Baty and other former prospects

  • Brian Joura

    With the way the Mets struggle against LHP – they were 18-35 in games started by a lefty last year – I don’t view Baty being a lefty batter as a good thing and the team needs a righty batter much more so than a lefty one. Hopefully J.D. Martinez provides that lefty-masher bat to balance the lineup.

  • Jimmy P

    Regarding Baty: I’ve read that the Mets graded out as the worst defensively at 3B in all of MLB in 2023. He’s brutal over there. The plodding feet and bad hands. Can he lift that up to adequate? Most of the time? Against RHP in 2023 he was bad (.640 OPS), but against LHP (.474) he was not competitive. With 400 PA’s, he was a -1.1 WAR.

    Hard to do.

    Alex Bregman earned a 4.9 WAR in that same season. A difference of 6 wins? At one position? He’s a free agent consideration next winter. Brett’s clock is ticking.

    When Juan Lagares was at his peak in CF, the question was at what OPS was the offense enough for him to be a positive player. Was it .700 OPS and a Gold Glove? Was he still a plus at .650? I didn’t think so.

    Alec Bohm is a handy comp and maybe Baty’s upside. He’s another terrible glove who hit 20 HR with 97 RBI last year. Good numbers. A .765 OPS and a WAR of . . . 0.4.

    Defense matters.

    My hope for Brett Baty is that he raises his game enough to become a chip in a trade. Maybe there’s a low-budget team out there filled with optimists.

    At the same time, hey, you never know. He learns to lift the ball, learns to pull the ball in the air, learns to recognize the off-speed pitch, learns to handle the high outside fastball, learns how to backhand a grounder . . . learns how to hit LHP . . . kid could have 25 HRs and be a star . . . however . . .

    I think he’s a platoon guy in 2024. The good news is with Bader and JD, the Mets will be vastly improved against LHP. Hopefully Alvarez improves vs. LHP, too.

    Last season, I was upset by Buck’s initial reluctance to use Baty against LHP. After a while, this thought crossed my mind: maybe Buck was right. After all, he was trying to win games.

    I’m starting Wendle against RHP and whenever Houser starts. Happy to modify that as the season progresses.

    One last number that matters, too, since none of this happens in isolation: Bretts works for peanuts. That gives the organization freedom to spend elsewhere. I guess we could maybe live with Alec Bohm at 3B . . . if Brett can reach those levels. But I can’t say I’ll ever love a butcher in the hot corner.

    • Metstabolism

      Agree completely that Baty needs a platoon partner. But not Wendle. He’s washed up. I’d go with Zack Short, for now, and Vientos later in the season pending further improvements to his defense. Platoon splits last season saw Short post a .691 vs lefties, Wendle .636. But Wendle is clearly on his way down, having regressed badly each of the past two seasons. Short, on the other hand, seems to still be improving. He sure looked like it this spring. He simply hits the ball hard almost every time. And he has a better throwing arm than Wendle. On defense, I was pleasantly surprised at how much better Baty was this spring than last. I still believe there will be some regression from spring to the regular season. But as long as we continue to see improvement over last year, its might be worth riding him till we see where the improvement ends. The Mets also did a terrible job in bringing Baty along. He was horrible at the plate the last two weeks of spring, striking out all over the place (7 times in 15 ABs). He simply was not ready for and did not belong in the majors, and a mere three weeks in AAA was not enough to change that reality. I’m willing to almost look at this year as his rookie season.

  • NYM6986

    Baty will get an extended chance to keep 3B. It will be very helpful for him and the team if he hits like he should be hitting. Let’s remember he barely played at AAA but in 2022 between AA and AAA he hit .315 with 19 bombs. That’s what we need from him. Even if Mauricio was healthy, he too was a liability in the field. Not even sure how good he was at SS, his primary position. Seems the Mets are strong at developing players who are best at DH but lack a place to place in the field like Baty and Vientos. They can always try for Bregman after the season but hard to believe the Astros will let him go despite the cost. Players like that don’t grow on trees.
    I see Vientos being traded to a team that could possibly put him at first and hope he explodes with the HR bat he showed in AA and AAA along with a .280 average and an OPS that reached over .900. Probably a trade deadline move.
    When Mauricio is healthy I see them moving him to the OF to take advantage of his speed.
    Alvarez will make us proud this year both with 30 bombs and throwing out enough runners to cause them to think twice before running on him.
    We are not the Braves or Phillies but if the pitching holds up we will be competitive.
    Then we wait for the arrival of a better class of baby Mets to move up.

    • David Groveman

      As a reminder: Ronny Mauricio is a perplexingly terrible defensive shortstop. He makes the phenomenal plays and misses the easy ones. I spoke to someone who noted most of his issues are with picking the ball up off the ground cleanly. He’s better at 3rd base but always screamed outfielder to me in the minors. The Mets slept on switching his position way too long.

  • Woodrow

    Vientos isn’t a 3B!

    • David Groveman

      Vientos is not a good third baseman but…

      In 2023 – Majority of fielded games 3B
      In 2022 – Majority of fielded games 3B
      In 2021 – Majority of fielded games 3B
      In 2019 – All fielded games 3B
      In 2018 – All fielded games 3B
      In 2017 – Majority of fielded games SS (3B was second)

  • ChrisF

    The Mets love to put people at 3B that have exactly zero business of playing there and “hope” the bat will in some magical way compensate for the putrid defense most show. Enter Baty v 2.0 here in 2024, as bad as or even worse than ever at 3B, with the hopes he can hit his way out of playing the position with two left feet and two right arms. The Yankee game complete 2-run botch on a chopper was like a little league play, Instead of getting front of a ball that was spinning bad, his instinct was to play it backhand with runners going wild out there instead f getting his body in front of it. Its not a rookie mistake, it a JV High School game mistake. Opposing teams are gonna go right at him hitting running and throwing just to expose what a substandard player he is. Mr Stearns, you said defense mattered…Im not seeing it for one of the key defensive spots on the field.

    • David Groveman

      The Mets have the following options for third base:

      Brett Baty – A player whose natural position is third and who played adequate (perhaps slightly below average) defense in the minors and has been a butcher in the majors.

      Mark Vientos – A player whose drafted position was short but who has no natural position (which boggles my mind). He showed below average defense in the minors and has been a butcher in the majors.

      Jeff McNeil – A utility player who fans rightfully love but whom we are worried about producing. His best defensive position is second but he can field third and the outfield. His arm is not ideal for third and, again, his bat hasn’t performed since 2022.

      Ronny Mauricio – Currently injured but Mauricio was a butcher at his “natural” position of shortstop. He began playing third in the winter league season of 2022 and was much better there. Unfortunately, he’s injured and not really an option until late in the season.

      Joey Wendle and Zach Short – Backups

      • ChrisF

        I know David. When I look at that list and the dearth of competent 3B we’ve had out there since DWright retired and it’s downright shameful.

        My question is why can’t this team get serious about 3B?

        • David Groveman

          Prior to last season the consensus was that the Mets future at 3B was secure with Brett Baty. Beyond that, the Mets has Ronny Mauricio coming off a solid showing in winter ball at the same position.

          Personally, I think fans have given up on Baty too quickly and I’m hoping that he turns in a season where his bat is above average and his defense is merely average.

          For a team as expensive as the Mets are they have the following issues:

          1. Their best hitter is going to be a free agent this offseason
          2. Expensive players are not performing (Starling Marte and Jeff McNeil)
          3. Their rotation lacks a true Ace (I rank Senga as a #2 pitcher)
          4. Their bullpen has question marks
          5. Their farm system lacks star power pitching

          With these, I don’t consider Brett Baty the primary concern and I don’t think this offseason was the one to go out and spend on fixing it. This season is not expected to be great but it is the perfect oppotunity to see if Baty can improve. If he doesn’t, the Mets can make runs at Alex Bregman or Matt Chapman (if he opts out, which I think he will).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 100 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here