Opening Day is a little over three weeks away, and David Wright has still yet to play in a spring training game. Despite Terry Collins not being concerned about Wright’s Opening Day status, the team has to seriously begin thinking about an alternative at the hot corner, just in case. Toby Hyde listed a few different options, including sliding Daniel Murphy over to third or potentially giving Zach Lutz a shot, but why not give the opportunity to a player who did nothing but hit last season: Josh Satin.
Satin isn’t the only option, but he is a viable one for a few reasons. First, Murphy should not move back to third base. Odds are Wright, who is scheduled to receive a cortisone shot today, won’t miss a lot more time because there is no structural damage. So while he might start the season late, he hopefully wouldn’t miss more than a week or so, meaning that there wouldn’t be much reason to disrupt Murphy’s time at second base (he needs all the reps he can get). That leaves a couple of other options besides Satin: Zach Lutz, who is perpetually hurt, and Justin Turner. It would be great to see Lutz, who offers power, but he’s missed so much time at the minor league level and only accumulated six plate appearances this spring. Turner made the most of his playing time early last season but fizzled out towards the end-still he could be an option. But let’s look at Satin.
Now 27, Satin made 27 plate appearances as a September call-up in 2011, collecting five hits (one double), two RBI, one walk and eleven strikeouts. That isn’t much of a body of work, but his minor league numbers are pretty darn good. Over his four year minor league career, Satin owns a .307/.397/.467 line. Last year, he was the Mets Sterling Organization Minor League Player of the Year, and hit .323/.411/.495 with 12 homers, splitting time between Binghamton and Buffalo.
There are a couple of red flags. Satin’s BABIP last season was ridiculous (.411 at Binghamton and .405 at Buffalo) and he strikes out a lot (20.6% of his minor league PAs have ended in a punch-out). But he also walks a lot (a 12.4% clip) and has consistently hit for a high average. His BABIP will certainly regress, but if he can maintain a walk rate in the double-figures, Satin can still provide offensive value. Turner, on the other hand, walked at an 8.0% rate last season and has the same mark over the duration of his minor league career (he is really good at getting hit by pitches though).
Satin also has the ability to play third base. He’s appeared in 68 games in the hot corner at the minor league level, compared to Turner who appeared in 37 in addition to 44 at the Majors. Satin isn’t that talented with the glove, but the difference between him and Turner is probably negligible.
As long as Wright is out, Satin should be given every chance to prove that he can fill the void at third base in the short term (in fact, he is in today’s spring training lineup, starting at third base). Long term, he is a bench player, but that doesn’t mean he can’t contribute for a couple of weeks in a starting role if need be. Hopefully the Mets can catch lightening in a bottle, as they did last year with Turner.