2018 Stats Projection – Kevin Plawecki

If I told you the Mets had a catcher last year that got on base at a .350 clip, what would you say? If I then told you it was only 118 appearances would you then throw soup at me and say I’m extrapolating too much? Maybe.

Kevin Plawecki
Baseball Prospectus 154 26.268 16 4 0.242 0.309 0.375
ZiPS 392 90 38 9 0.253 0.311 0.382
Steamer 171 154 38 16 4 0.247 0.311 0.382
ESPN 249 62.997 23 5 0.253 0.33 0.357
MLB.com 225 56.025 23 6 0.249 0.337 0.382
Baseball Reference 274 241 58 25 6 0.241 0.322 0.361
Average: 247.75 217.25 55.215 23.5 5.666667 0.2475 0.32 0.373167
2017 Stats: 118 100 26 11 3 0.26 0.354 0.4

The computers do not see Plawecki returning to those insane for him 2017 numbers, but If he got on base at a .320 clip, that would be a massive improvement from what we’ve seen overall. There has already been reporting this year (thank you The Athletic) that over the last several years he has changed his batting stance. He couldn’t keep up at the major level and was hitting standing up. He’s crouching more now.

With d’Arnaud, the Mets need Plawecki to step up this season. There’s reason to be happy with Plawecki in 2018. My gut tells me that catching is d’Arnaud’s job to lose. He should be catching 75% of the time but if Plawecki starts off strong maybe it becomes more 50/50. And as always health is a major question.

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2018 Stats Preview – Jose Reyes

A reunion with Jose Reyes seemed inevitable all off-season. For most of the off-season the Mets needed at least a second or third basemen. The Mets also had a depleted bench in terms of players with major league experience. No team was really biting on Jose Reyes (and a bunch of other players at well). Resigning Jose Reyes just seemed destined.

Then one day Jose Reyes drove to Citi Field and snapped the emoji with the hand on the chin (the inquisitive one?). The whole fan base knew at that time Jose Reyes was coming back. Later in the day the Mets signed him.

When the Mets signed him, I didn’t make an opinion about how I felt with the decision. If Reyes was going to start, then this was a bad move for the Mets. If the Mets were going to acquire a new infielder, making Jose Reyes a bench player and displacing Matt Reynolds from the 25-man, then this would be a good move.

The Mets signed Frazier, Reyes is now a bench player, and now we can really look at these projections:

Jose Reyes
Baseball Prospectus 481 90.503 63 10 0.263 0.318 0.392
ZiPS 492 114 65 12 0.255 0.311 0.405
Steamer 271 245 61 30 6 0.249 0.309 0.388
ESPN 241 60.973 36 7 0.253 0.317 0.411
MLB.com 280 70 45 8 0.25 0.307 0.418
Baseball Reference 508 459 116 66 13 0.253 0.313 0.405
Average: 438 306.25 85.41267 50.83333 9.333333 0.253833 0.3125 0.403167
2017 Stats: 561 501 123 75 15 0.246 0.315 0.413

Since Reyes is going to be a bench player and we don’t need to worry about his defense that much, I’m not that upset with Reyes riding the bench. The computers see his slash line returning to normal a bit, a slightly higher average, a similar OBP and a drop in slugging.

What computers really struggled with is playing time. Only ESPN and Steamer seeing a reduced role for Reyes (I think both were ran after other infielders were signed by the Mets). It’s also crazy to think about how much playing time he got with the Mets last year. I never thought he would get above 500 plate appearances nor did I think he would get 15 homers.

I’m still not happy the Mets gave Reyes a second chance. I still find it hard to root for Reyes. That’s never going to go away. This doesn’t fit with the article as a whole but it needed to be said.

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2018 Stats Projection – Dom Smith

From the jump, I need to be honest. I am biased towards wanting Dom Smith to be the first basemen of the Mets. It’s a combination of following him since he’s been drafted, loving younger players, and his personality. I want the answer at first base to be Dom Smith. Right now, it seems like the Mets have done a lot this off-season to make the Mets answer to not be Dom Smith (getting Gonzalez, suggesting that Bruce can play first, almost making fun of Smith at pressers).

Let’s take a look at his stats:

Dominic Smith
Baseball Prospectus 536 100.288 61 18 0.258 0.314 0.423
ZiPS 652 164 76 20 0.272 0.324 0.43
Steamer 234 214 54 24 8 0.251 0.306 0.413
ESPN 240 58.08 26 7 0.242 0.292 0.379
MLB.com 220 53.9 27 9 0.245 0.305 0.432
Baseball Reference 292 262 62 33 13 0.237 0.306 0.439
Average: 428.5 234 82.04467 41.16667 12.5 0.250833 0.307833 0.419333
2017 Stats: 183 167 33 17 9 0.198 0.262 0.393

Dom Smith surprised us in two ways in 2017. His defense left a lot to be desired at the major league level, the first time that has been true for Dom Smith. The ball exploded off bat when he made contact, knocking in 9 homers in limited at bats. Something else he rarely did at any other level.

I deeply believe that Dom Smith gets a lot better this year with playing time. He has had made a mistake this spring (showing up late) and was unlucky and got injured but I still feel he is the answer at first base. He dropped a lot of weight over the season and is hopefully motivated with Peter Alonso knocking at the door behind him.

Then again, as stated earlier, I don’t know how much of what I’m saying is due to a Dom Smith bias. I want him to be the answer and I don’t know if that is clouding my judgment? I guess we’ll find out this season.

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2018 Stats Projection – Brandon Nimmo

The Mets lineup this year may be saved by Brandon Nimmo. Or Not? Let’s look at the projections:

Brandon Nimmo
Baseball Prospectus 592 77.632 76 13 0.246 0.339 0.383
ZiPS 474 96 55 9 0.233 0.33 0.362
Steamer 325 280 67 35 7 0.241 0.333 0.371
ESPN 200 49 23 3 0.245 0.327 0.345
MLB.com 250 62 37 7 0.248 0.347 0.4
Baseball Reference 316 273 72 41 9 0.264 0.356 0.421
Average: 426.75 250.75 70.60533 44.5 8 0.246167 0.338667 0.380333
2017 Stats: 215 177 46 26 5 0.26 0.379 0.418

Brandon Nimmo stole my heart at the Queens Baseball Convention this year. Before the Convention, I was on board trading Nimmo to the Pirates for Harrison or to the Indians for Kipnis. I wanted this solution even knowing that Brandon Nimmo was one of a handful of outfielders on the Mets roster. I was desperate for a better infield.

Nimmo was just amazing in his panel session. He may be the most genuine athlete I’ve ever listened to speak. But can he play?

The answer is pointing towards: yes!

Nimmo posted a ridiculous OBP last year in a small sample size and although the models and projections seeing him regressing. If he can get on base at the .338 average OBP, which isn’t terrible, then why not lead off for the 1-2 months before Conforto comes back? I want to root for Nimmo after hearing him speak and that is clouding my judgment but maybe the Mets need a guy like Nimmo for fans to fall in love with.

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2018 Stats Projection – Travis d’Arnaud

Travis had a good year in terms of power numbers, but a bad year in pretty much everything else as the oft injured catcher was able to stay on the field for 376 PAs. At this point in d’Arnaud’s career he is becoming a catcher who plays below average time, mostly out of injury concerns.

Here are what the computers think he will do this year:

Travis d’Arnaud
Baseball Prospectus 488 86.392 58 16 0.25 0.315 0.418
ZiPS 379 90 42 13 0.259 0.312 0.431
Steamer 331 299 75 35 12 0.252 0.313 0.431
ESPN 330 85.14 39 14 0.258 0.31 0.439
MLB.com 330 85.14 41 15 0.258 0.306 0.458
Baseball Reference 416 377 94 46 15 0.249 0.311 0.422
Average: 403.5 334 85.94533 43.5 14.16667 0.254333 0.311167 0.433167
2017 Stats: 376 348 85 39 16 0.244 0.293 0.443

Rene Rivera started to give d’Arnaud a run for his money in value to the team over the last couple of seasons. Now this is Travis and Kevin’s job where step forwards by either of them can edge out the others.

Travis will face additional pressures this year from the minors in both Nido (low threat) and Lobaton (spring threat). The projections see a step back in the correct direction for OBP and a step back for power. They also see him putting similar, if not less, playing time compared to last year.

The Mets don’t need d’Arnaud to be great. There are a lot of bats in the lineup now. They need him to be serviceable though.

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2018 Non Roster Invite: Tim Tebow

I never really thought I would be writing this article, but here we go. The Mets gave Tim Tebow and invite to Spring Training.

Last year I took a road trip to see the Mets play in Miami and I stopped in Columbia on the way down from Jersey which meant I saw Tim Tebow. Physically, he’s still a quarter back and made the other players on the field look like children because they were compared t him. He was 7.5 years older than the average player in the South Atlantic League. The fans though absolutely love him. I want to be a Tebow hater but I had a lot of fun at that game.

Let’s focus on Tebow stats though. In 244 PAs for Columbia he hit .220/.311/.336 and then in St. Lucie he slashed .231/.307/.356. He’s not going to be a star, but he is working incredibly hard almost to the point I feel bad berating him when the Mets signed him in 2016.

Him playing is still a bit of gimmick. If he makes it to the majors in 2018 it will almost definitely be a gimmick. But what if he plays decently in Binghamton? What if he starts off decently in Syracuse in 2019? What if the Mets stay thin with outfielders? I thought it was impossible for Tebow to make the team last year but now, there really is a path for Tebow to get ABs in September 2019 or 2020.

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2018 Stats Projection – Jay Bruce

Up until 2016, it felt like once a year the Mets flirted with the idea of somehow getting Jay Bruce to suit up in Queens. The playoff run made that fantasy, someone’s fantasy, a reality as Jay Bruce was brought over to solidify an ailing lineup in a wild card run. Then during the following off season there were calls to trade Bruce, keep Bruce, blame Bruce for all the existential woes of the Mets team. Honestly I can’t even recall who was calling for what around Bruce.

Bruce went on to have a Jay Bruce 2017, hitting bombs. But homers last year were more common than differing opinions on how the Mets should construct a lineup so Jay Bruce was traded for Ryder Ryan, a relief prospect.

Going into this season, the Mets needed a center fielder and either a second basemen or a third basemen. The first two moves the Mets made were to sign Bruce to play corner outfield and a little first base, and then the Mets signed a first basemen. It was quite a Mets move. Keeping with Mets tradition, this led to a lampooning of Bruce, again. Bruce is a good value for the price the Mets got him at, but just didn’t quite fit the need on paper.

Jay Bruce
Baseball Prospectus 574 89.056 71 27 0.244 0.312 0.465
Steamer 530 475 114 64 26 0.239 0.308 0.465
ESPN 555 133.2 75 33 0.24 0.31 0.486
MLB.com 545 136.25 79 32 0.25 0.322 0.49
Baseball Reference 567 510 125 71 29 0.245 0.313 0.48
Average: 557 521.25 119.5012 72 29.4 0.2436 0.313 0.4772
2017 Stats: 617 555 141 82 36 0.254 0.324 0.508

Looking at Bruce’s projections, the computers see Bruce taking a slight step back next year. This isn’t too surprising considering Bruce’s age and how much better his 2017 was over it’s original projection. I’m not sure how many people projected Bruce hitting 36 homers and getting on base at a .324 clip last year, but he did.

While I do expect him to slide, I don’t expect him to slide that much. His season will also depend on all of Frazier, Conforto and Cespedes. If it’s Bruce and the 2017 September Mets, there’s not much reason to go after Bruce in the strike zone.

I like Bruce and I hope he does well. I’m looking forward to seeing him at the plate next year despite my skepticism when he was signed over a center fielder this off-season.

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2018 Non Roster Invite: Kevin Kaczmarski

Kevin Kaczmarski will be the last player from the 2015 draft we look at in this non-roster invite series. He was drafted in the 9th round out of the University of Evansville.

He spent all of last year at Binghamton where he slashed .274/.370/.369 over 531 PAs. All he has done though at the minor league level is hit. In 2015 in Kingsport he hit .355/.415/.512. Then in 2016 between Columbia and St. Lucie he hit .280/.360/.413.

His OBP increase last year compared to 2016, despite playing at a higher level, is driving attention on Kevin. In the Arizona Fall League this year he continued to hit at .351/.393/.442.

So like so many players in the last couple of years (Phil Evans, PJ Conlon, Corey Taylor, Peter Alonso) Kevin’s numbers are becoming hard to ignore so he deserves to get the NRI. Unlike the rest of them, he’s a bit older, at 25, so in AA he was above the average age.

Also similar to Zach Borenstein, the signing of den Dekker gives the Mets space with him. I don’t expect the Mets to want to bring Kevin up this year. With Kevin we’ll probably returning to this article again next year. His numbers are interesting, I’m looking forward to watching him handle upper level talent this spring.

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2018 Stats Projection – Adrian Gonzalez

Adrián Gonzalez was a surprise move for the Mets at the same as he was not a surprise move at all. Gonzalez was traded to the Braves as part of a salary cap shifting move by the Dodgers and then immediately dropped so the Mets got him for the league minimum. That part is not surprising, especially if your world Mets view is “the Mets are cheap”.

The move was surprising because 1) the Mets have are supposed to be developing Dom Smith and 2) right before picking up Adrián, the Mets signed Bruce saying that Bruce would spend some time playing first base too and 3) the Mets are still looking for at bats for Wilmer Flores.

Anyway, here are the projections for Adrián, who is coming off injury filled season.

Adrian Gonzalez
Baseball Prospectus 42 8.13 5 1 0.265 0.327 0.423
Steamer 275 245 62 29 9 0.255 0.327 0.423
ESPN 330 88.11 35 9 0.267 0.334 0.409
MLB.com 350 91 37 9 0.26 0.315 0.397
Baseball Reference 389 348 92 40 12 0.264 0.331 0.425
Average: 235.3333 318.25 68.248 29.2 8 0.2622 0.3268 0.4154
2017 Stats: 252 231 56 14 3 0.242 0.287 0.355

There is quite a bit of variance in playing time for Gonzalez with Prospectus thinking he barely gets any playing time to MLB.com and Baseball Reference thinking he plays half the season. It does look like all of the programs think last year is a fluke* and that he bounces back a bit.

*Programs for a while have projected a decline in stats for Gonzalez, and these are still declines compared to career numbers. Last year was just extra bad. Now if he isn’t healthy then we should see a repeat of last year’s numbers.

I still don’t get the Gonzalez move at all and I rather Dom Smith put up numbers below his his projected average or Dom Smith put up Gonzalez 2017’s slash lines than roll the dice with Gonzalez.

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2018 Non Roster Invite: Matt den Dekker

If you’re poetic, then the Mets signing den Dekker for depth is a homecoming, a full circle affair. If you’re cynical, then den Dekker represents the Mets lack of creativity for depth and the front office is just chasing former Mets. Or if you like baseball stories and hate the Nationals, you are fully satisfied that it is now impossible for the Nationals to win the den Dekker for Jerry Blevins trade.

Matt den Dekker was drafted by the Mets in the 5th round of the 2010 draft. He debuted with the Mets in 2013 and over two seasons had two good seasons in the majors. He got traded right before the start of the 2015 regular season to the Nationals for Jerry Blevens and after the following season, he signed as a free agent with the Marlins and then later with the Tigers.

As a Met, in 237 PAs he hit .238/.325/.310 and was great with the club. Since then in 394 PAs he has hit .234/.316/.354. Additionally, he hit .250/.322/.441 in the minors between the Detroit and Miami system.

Matt makes perfect sense for the Mets as a defense reserve. How often the Mets need to lean on den Dekker will dictate how their season is going. If den Dekker is getting regular at bats this season, something has gone horribly wrong. This was a smart depth for the Mets and they deserve credit for it. Hopefully they don’t have to use den Dekker as an option though.

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