Now that the New York Mets’ 2018 season is over, we are going to take a look at the year as a whole over the next several days. We will break down the offense, starting pitching, relievers, coaching staff, and declare a team MVP along the way. We continue our season review today with a look at the Mets’ offense.
The New York Mets are a team built on pitching, but even the best pitching needs a capable offense to support it. That was an issue for the Mets for a lot of 2018 as injuries took a toll on the Mets’ depth, forcing them to play guys out of position frequently and rely on questionable bench players to start. Let’s take a look position by position at the 2018 Mets’ offense and see how the unit fared, beginning with the backstops:
Catchers: The Mets planned on going with a platoon of Kevin Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud in 2018, a plan that blew up in mid-April when d’Arnaud went down with Tommy John surgery. Plawecki also missed time with a broken hand, forcing the Mets to use light hitting Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido for a few weeks until adding Devin Mesoraco in the Matt Harvey trade. Mesoraco got off to a hot start but cooled off significantly in the second half, hitting .222 with 10 homers and 30 RBI’s on the year. Plawecki got the bulk of the playing time in the second half and put together a decent year, hitting .210 with seven homers, 30 RBI’s, and a .685 OPS. If the Mets are looking to upgrade anywhere in 2019, catcher should be high on the list.
First Base: Adrian Gonzalez began the year as the Mets’ first baseman and was out of a job by June, sending the position into turmoil for the rest of the season. Dominic Smith was supposed to get a chance there, but the Mets bypassed him in favor of Wilmer Flores, who put together a solid .267 average with 11 homers and 51 RBI’s before arthritis in his knees ended his season in September. The Mets also chose not to promote top prospect Peter Alonso in September despite Alonso’s massive season, opting instead to finish the year looking at Smith and Jay Bruce at first base. Smith ended up hitting .224 with five home runs and 11 RBI’s in 143 at bats, which is not enough production to justify the job in 2019. The choice for the Mets will likely come down to Bruce or Alonso here, and what they do going forward at first should shape how the team approaches the offseason.
Second Base: The Mets started the year with Asdrubal Cabrera at second base and he was highly productive, hitting .277 with 18 home runs and 58 RBI’s in 98 games, allowing the team to flip him to Philadelphia at the trade deadline for pitching prospect Franklyn Kilome. Cabrera’s departure opened up second base for Jeff McNeil, who followed up his tremendous minor league campaign by hitting .329 with three home runs and 19 RBI’s over the final two months of the year. McNeil was also better with the glove than expected and should have done enough to get a shot at the job to begin 2019.
Shortstop: Amed Rosario played the whole year at shortstop and had his struggles early, hitting just .246 in the first half and losing plenty of playing time to Jose Reyes. The Mets gave Rosario a mental break in the middle of the season to try and teach him some key fundamentals, and the break paid off as Rosario was much sharper both at the plate and the field in the second half. Rosario ended the year hitting .256 with nine homers, 51 RBI’s, and 24 stolen bases as he looked more like the five tool player the Mets thought they were getting when he was promoted last summer. The Mets would like to see Rosario improve his on base percentage in 2019 as a .295 mark won’t cut it in today’s game. The position grade also takes a hit for Reyes’ awful year as the Mets let him hit .189 with four home runs and 16 RBI’s in 228 at bats, far too many plate appearances for a washed up veteran.
Third Base: The Mets finally conceded that the David Wright era was coming to an end last winter when they signed Todd Frazier to a two year deal to replace their captain. Frazier had a tough year with the Mets, landing on the disabled list twice after never getting hurt before in his big league career. Things weren’t much better for Frazier when he was healthy as he hit just .213 with 18 home runs, 59 RBI’s, and a .303 on base percentage. The Mets can’t expect Frazier to be the anchor of their lineup like he was for the Cincinnati Reds a few years ago, but they need more production out of Frazier in the final year of his deal.
Outfield: The outfield was hit hard by injuries for most of the season. Yoenis Cespedes missed almost the entire year due to various leg problems, and while he was productive when on the field (.262/9/29 in 38 games) the Mets botched his rehab process and likely cost themselves his services for most of 2019 due to a pair of heel surgeries. The return of Jay Bruce was also a disaster in the first half as he batted just .212 with three homers and 17 RBI’s while battling through several injuries. Bruce landed on the DL for a couple of months and looked better upon returning, hitting .243 with six homers and 20 RBI’s the rest of the way. Juan Lagares’ new stroke appeared to be paying dividends as he hit .339 in limited playing time before going down with a season ending toe injury in the middle of May.
Another outfielder who struggled with injuries was Michael Conforto, who was rushed back after undergoing a major shoulder surgery at the end of 2017. Conforto looked rusty and struggled in the first half, hitting just .216 with 11 homers and 30 RBI’s in 287 at bats, but turned it on in the second half. After the All Star Break, Conforto batted .273 with 17 homers and 52 RBI’s, looking much more like the dominant hitter the Mets saw in 2017 than the one who struggled at the beginning of 2018. The most consistent outfielder for the Mets all year was Brandon Nimmo, who had a breakout season by batting .263 with 17 home runs, 47 RBI’s, and an outstanding .886 OPS. The Mets also added veterans Jose Bautista (.204/9/37 in 83 games) and Austin Jackson (.242 in 57 games) to add depth to the unit. Bautista started a lot before getting sent to Philadelphia in August while Jackson played well enough to merit a return as a backup in 2019.