Everything with Brett Baty is a small sample.

But coming into this season, one of my beliefs was that the Mets needed to be less reliant on “small sample!” and instead look to pull the plug sooner on guys who didn’t get the job done. My hope is that no one on the club would finish with more than 300 PA and an OPS beneath the Galvis Line, like what happened last year with both Baty and Starling Marte.

Furthermore, my idea was not to wait until a player had amassed 275 PA before making a move. Instead, my thoughts were somewhere around the 150-PA mark, especially with those two players who struggled so much in 2023. Here’s where those two sit right now:

Baty – 82 PA, .311 BABIP, .649 OPS, 87 OPS+
Marte – 107 PA, .342 BABIP, .780 OPS, 122 OPS+

My first thought is that it’s a bit of a surprise that Marte has 25 more PA. But Baty has four games where he entered in the seventh inning or later, in addition to having two fewer games played. The next thing that jumps out is that Baty has a .311 BABIP or 31 points higher than his 2023 mark in the majors. Baty’s poor start here in 2024 is not a case of bad luck on balls in play.

And before you chalk up Marte’s success here in the early going to good luck, know that he has throughout his career run elevated BABIP marks. He has a lifetime .341 BABIP in 5,715 PA.

We’re a little over halfway towards the benchmark established by me as to when to make a move. Nothing needs to be done now. But it’s certainly not too soon to start contemplating Plan B. And because there’s no great alternative on the roster, some might be willing to go beyond my comfort level with a struggling Baty.

Baty’s been much improved on the defensive side of things, which might be another reason why people would be inclined to give him an extended chance. But by this point, my hope is that everyone recognizes that my way of looking at things is to examine the entire total of a player’s contributions. Last Spring, people wanted to keep Francisco Alvarez in the minors due to alleged defensive issues. And my reply was that there was no way that a guy who grew up as a catcher could be so bad defensively that it would keep him from being a more valuable player overall than the offensively-challenged backstops the Mets had on the roster.

Mark Vientos grew up as a shortstop but has played 323 games at third base in the minors, along with 21 more in the majors. He’s experienced on the infield dirt, even if there’s still not a ton of it specifically at third base. Still, it seems fair to project that he’s not as good defensively as Baty at the hot corner.

The relevant question is who’s the better choice to play at third once we factor in offense, defense, base running and anything else you wish to consider. My opinion is that here on April 26, none of us know the answer to that question.

However, it’s my belief that if Baty continues to put up poor offensive numbers over the next three weeks or so that it will be time to give Vientos a shot, one where he plays the vast majority of the time and not a time share with another infielder. If you want to yank him for defensive purposes late in close games – that’s fine. But he should get three or more PA every game to show what he can do with consistent playing time.

The easiest thing to do is to declare any minor leaguer who doesn’t come up and succeed right away a bust or a Quad-A guy or a candidate to play overseas. And that’s certainly a possibility, perhaps one that should win the plurality among the various outcomes. But if Baty continues to struggle, you won’t hear me label him that way.

At the start of the piece, it was mentioned how everything is a small sample. And that extends to Baty’s Triple-A experience, too. He has just 147 PA at the top level of the minors and even that’s deceiving, as they’ve come in three stints. Baty accumulated 26 PA in Syracuse at the end of 2022, 42 at the beginning of 2023 and 79 more last year in August.

Some players can make the jump from Double-A to the majors, either with limited or no time in Triple-A. Juan Soto jumps immediately to mind as one of these guys. As for the Mets, Michael Conforto went from Double-A to the majors in 2015 and played a role in the Mets advancing to the World Series. But Conforto struggled the next season and was eventually sent back to Triple-A.

My opinion is that Baty would benefit by having somewhere around 200 consecutive PA in Triple-A, which is something he’s yet to have. And on the flip side of that, there’s really not a whole lot more Vientos needs to do in the minors. He has 832 PA in Syracuse and has a .925 OPS.

Last year, Baty got off to a strong start with the Mets, as he put up a .915 OPS in his first 13 games. After that, it was a dismal .555 OPS in 343 PA. This year in his first 10 games, Baty posted an .801 OPS. Since then, he has a .510 OPS in 43 PA. There’s really not a whole lot there to recommend unlimited playing time for him moving forward.

You don’t want to overreact to 43 PA. Yet you don’t want to watch 300-something PA slip by with rotten results, either. Baty’s put himself right back on the hot seat. He’s got a little time to play himself back into everyone’s good graces. But the clock is ticking and Vientos deserves an extended shot, too.

10 comments on “Brett Baty and when the Mets should move to Plan B at third base

  • TexasGusCC

    As a new sheriff, Stearns isn’t emotionally attached to any of these guys. I prefer his approach, where he takes time to see what he inherited rather than BVW’s “make big moves” approach or even Alderson’s “blow everything up” approach. It’s fair to allow Baty to keep working at it, but he has done enough in the minors to deserve a chance. When he went back down, he lit up AAA and I don’t think we need to see anything more there. The kid needs to play. Bat him eighth so he doesn’t hurt you, and let him keep going out there. With Martinez, the Mets have enough offense. They need pitching and defense and Baty is a better defender than Vientos, so he fits better. I’d like to see Vientos up also at some point, getting constant at bats.

  • Metsense

    Baty needs to turn it around in the next 125 PA. If not then gave Vientos a chance for the next 200 PA and send Baty down. That 400 total PA for them. If Vientos doesn’t do it, and the Mets have a chance for the playoffs, then trade for a rental third baseman for the rest of the season. In this way, Baty holds his destiny.

    • Metstabolism

      Yes. but trade what, exactly? Do they have the prospect capital to get anyone useful, and can they afford to spend it? How and when do they rebuild this org into something that can contend regularly, and not just flail at it for a couple of years before regressing?

  • ChrisF

    Forget Plans A and B, Im starting to wonder what plan “C” is. As the quad A nature of Baty becomes more and more apparent in the Orange and Blue, the plan has to be for what is next for the team without him. Baty has no value succeeding in AAA and failing in the MLB. They need to figure out how to make him a big leaguer, or package him as a upside prospect that needs a change of coaching to extract the best from him. We all know, it happens.

    I would let Brian’s plan B occur n that time frame and let him crush AAA to build value, then trade him. No need to cry a river of tears. He’s had a chance and will continue to get one, but if theres no consistent turn around, Its time for Plan C.

    • Brian Joura

      I’m not ready to write anyone off yet but I’m also prepared to need a Plan C in 2025 and beyond. And it’s possible that Ronny Mauricio is that third option.

      • Metstabolism

        I would agree with that. But what about a Plan C for this year. What do they do if they’re contending and Vientos does not get the job done? Some players just need two or three years in a bench role before emerging as regulars. In the meanwhile, what? Jose Iglesias? Zack Short if he clears waivers? Does Luke Ritter tame his K rate enough to be a consideration?

        • Brian Joura

          If Baty fails, Vientos fails and they’re contending at the trade deadline … well … they make a trade.

  • Woodrow

    Mauricio,that’s the ticket

  • NYM6986

    I really thought that ahead of the season ending injury Mauricio would be playing 2B and McNeil would end up in LF. He was also mentioned for third base where he had some issues last year, and I keep wondering how a player who grew up playing short could not adapt to third base. I’d give Baty another 150 AB to improve at the plate since his play in the field is exceeding expectations. Don’t know what to do with Vientos and I do see him getting playing time Queens when an injury forces him up. If he keeps smacking the ball at Syracuse then I see him as included in a trade deadline deal. If a few of our top AAA pitchers earn a chance to move up, then some of our current rotation would be prime trade candidates for teams looking for experienced trade deadline help.

  • TexasGusCC

    To me, Vientos is not tied to Baty but rather Mauricio is. Vientos is tied to the Alonso decision. Projecting Alonso’s future will be Stearns’ biggest headache this year. It’s kind of telling when Cohen and Alonso’s people were talking extension during 2022 but it never got done. That’s kind of an omen, for me.

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