Now that the 2022 season is over for the New York Mets, we have been looking back at the year that was. After taking a more general view of the offense, pitching, and coaching staff, it’s time to take a deeper dive into the Mets’ players. This series will take a look at every player on the roster for the Mets at the end of the season from A (Abraham Almonte) to W (Josh Walker). The review will look at their season statistics, stories, and what role (if any) they will have next season. We continue the series today with a look at catcher Francisco Alvarez.
Player Review: Francisco Alvarez
Minor Leagues: 4 Games, 16 At Bats, .250 Batting Average, 4 Hits, 1 Double, 2 Home Runs, 4 RBIs, 4 Runs Scored, 1 Stolen Base, 3 Walks, 1.056 OPS
Major Leagues: 123 Games, 382 At Bats, .209 Batting Average, 80 Hits, 12 Doubles, 25 Home Runs, 63 RBIs, 51 Runs Scored, 2 Stolen Bases, 34 Walks, .721 OPS, 0.9 WAR
Story: After getting a cup of coffee in the big leagues at the end of the 2022 season, Francisco Alvarez had the deck stacked against him to make the big league roster on Opening Day. Incumbent Tomas Nido was back and the Mets handed veteran Omar Narvaez a two-year contract in the offseason, meaning the team felt Alvarez needed a lot more seasoning in the minor leagues. Alvarez was sent to AAA Syracuse to start the season and hit well there before a calf injury to Narvaez forced the Mets to call him up just a week into the regular season.
Manager Buck Showalter integrated Alvarez into the lineup slowly, often having him catch one game a series compared to two for Nido, but when Nido went on the injured list with dry eye syndrome Alvarez became the de facto starter. Alvarez took advantage of this opportunity by slugging a ton of homers, including a clutch game-tying home run in the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 17, to assert himself as the team’s starting catcher. There were rumblings at the time that the Mets would send Alvarez back to AAA once their catchers got healthy to maintain roster flexibility, but Alvarez’s great hitting and solid defense behind the plate allowed him to outlast Gary Sanchez (who was cut after a brief audition as the backup) and Nido, who was designated for assignment when Narvaez returned in mid-June.
The length of the season did appear to take a physical toll on Alvarez, who caught well over 100 games for the first time in his career. Showalter did attempt to ease the physical burden on Alvarez by having him platoon with Narvaez down the stretch but it was a highly successful rookie season for the Mets’ catcher.
Few expected Alvarez to be as good out of the gate as he was. The power potential has always been there with Alvarez but his defense, which the Mets felt he needed more work on entering the year, was more than adequate for the big league level.
Contract Status: Pre-Arbitration Eligible
Odds Of Returning: 100%
2024 Role: Starting Catcher
Alvarez’s excellent rookie season means he’s locked in as the Mets’ starting catcher in 2024 with Narvaez presumably returning to serve as his backup. Catcher has been a revolving door position for the Mets since they let Mike Piazza go in 2005 and it appears as if Alvarez has a chance to be the long-term answer they have been looking for ever since.
Check back tomorrow as our Player Review Series continues with a look at infielder Jonathan Arauz!