April 17, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Mets catcher Josh Thole (30) hits an RBI single in the fourth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Josh Thole: On-Base Machine

There wasn’t a lot to celebrate after last night’s atrocious loss to the Colorado Rockies.  Blown leads, awful pitching and ugly, ugly defense, the game was a nightmare.  But besides Scott Hairston‘s cycle, there is one other thing in which Mets fans can take solace: Josh Thole‘s offense.

Everyone knows how Thole profiles as a hitter; he won’t give you power, but he will slap the ball around the field and draw walks.  Since his defense has been less than stellar, Thole needs to get on base at a high rate and not be an automatic out at the bottom of the order.  Fortunately, he has been doing just that.

In 60 plate appearances this season, Thole is batting .367/.466/.449, with a wOBA of .403 and wRC+ of 162 (100 is average).  He’s hit in ten straight games and reached base at least once in every game he’s played in so far.  Thole has also managed to hit four doubles.

The sample size is admittedly small, but Thole is doing all the things necessary to maintain his success.  He’s drawn nine walks (a 15% rate) and struck out just six times (a 10% rate) while making contact at a 93% clip (so far, the league average is 80%).  In addition, Thole has been adept as fouling off bad pitches, making contact with pitches outside the strike zone at an 83.3% rate (Thole only swings at pitches outside of the strike zone 15.1% of the time).

It’s unlikely that Thole will maintain that ridiculous slash line the entire season.  He’s sporting a .419 BABIP, which will assuredly drop and cause Thole’s batting average to dip as well.  As a result, his OBP will fall as well, but if he keeps walking at a high rate, he can still get on base at a good clip.  Thole has also done a good job utilizing the entire field, recording seven hits to right field, seven hits to center field and four hits to left field.

Out of twenty games so far, Thole has started fourteen, while backup Mike Nickeas has started six.  At that rate, Thole will start around 113 games, which is too few if he keeps hitting and walking.  He may not be an offensive star, but he can be a consistent hitter to plug into the two hole or the bottom of the order who will make an opposing pitcher work and get on base.

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