Even though this is the second-straight season the New York Mets have been ripped apart by the injury bug, the organization at times has seemed ill-prepared, especially when it comes to its position players.
One month into the season and the Mets are without both of their first basemen in Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores, third baseman David Wright, and outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Nimmo.
It’s left the Mets with a lineup lacking punch as they’ve scored three or fewer runs in 10 of their first 25 games.
Of their nine qualified batters, only three of them are batting over .250 and four have on-base percentages of .360 or higher. Two of those four though are Duda and Cespedes.
As a team, the Mets’ OBP is ranked fourth worst in the majors, which has forced them to once again rely on the long ball. Despite having the third-most home runs this season, New York’s offense is below the league average when it comes to scoring runs.
There are options brewing in the minor leagues that could improve on those figures, however.
Mets top prospect and shortstop Amed Rosario and first baseman Dominic Smith are tearing it up with triple-A Las Vegas so far this season.
Through 24 games, Rosario is batting .409 with a .452 OBP with a home run, 13 RBI and seven stolen bases. The Mets as a team had just nine stolen bases ahead of Tuesday night’s game against the Braves.
With Asdrubal Cabrera already running into hamstring issues earlier this season and with Jose Reyes’ unpredictability at the plate, Rosario could be a very nice addition to the left side of the infield.
However, ESPN’s Keith Law believes that Rosario has another level to break through.
“Rosario is still just scratching the surface of his offensive potential; there’s so much bat speed and strength here that he should eventually hit 15-20 home runs,” Law wrote. “But right now, it’s translating into hard contact to all fields.”
Smith would provide the Mets with a natural first baseman instead of trotting out T.J. Rivera or Jay Bruce every night.
The left-hander is a far more consistent hitter than Duda and is having himself a fine start to his season. In 99 at-bats, he is batting .343/.393 with three home runs and 18 RBI.
What’s been even more impressive is his ability to hit any type of pitcher. Against right-handers, he is batting .342, which is somewhat expected from a lefty bat. But against lefties, which is what’s given Duda so many problems over the years and has made Flores indispensable, Smith is batting .350.
“Smith makes the most out of his 6-foot, 185-pound frame. He has very quick hands through the ball and has a simple, fluid swing that he consistently repeats,” MLB.com’s Bernie Pleskoff wrote. “In fact, Smith’s swing permits him to make barrel-of-the-bat contact. He keeps his head steady and allows his wrists, forearms and his trunk to do their job.”
He will not possess the same power as Duda, at least he doesn’t right now, but the 22-year-old’s ability to hit to all fields and get on base can provide an enormous spark to the New York’s offense down the road.