New York Mets: T.J. Rivera’s best and worst case scenarios for 2019
By Staff Writer
Best Case Scenario
All throughout his college career at Wallace Junior College and Troy, as well as through his minor league days with the Mets, Rivera has shown an ability to work hard and grind. Whatever setbacks or doubt that were cast upon him by amateur scouts or minor league coaches in the past, Rivera overcame with hard work and perseverance.
His head coach at Wallace Community College, Mackey Sasser, noted how Rivera always had the ability to recognize his own flaws and then work hard to improve upon those weaknesses until they became strengths.
I believe it’s this type of fortitude and character that will allow him to flourish and regain his productive hitting form heading into 2019. That hunger to always give it your all and prove everyone who doubted you wrong may be the catalyst that Rivera needs to have a break out year.
A line of .320/.350/.460 is not out of the realm of possibility for 2019. I wouldn’t be shocked one bit if he put up 12 to 15 home runs with 20 doubles and 60 or more RBI if given enough plate appearances. With Wilmer Flores no longer on the team and the first and third baseman positions still not 100% set in stone to be claimed by anyone on the roster, Rivera could come in and absolutely earn a starting infield position during Spring Training.
Would you be surprised if Rivera batted .400 in Spring Training, lead the team in RBI and won the everyday starting first base or third base job down in Port St. Lucie given what he has done in past seasons at the plate? With promising depth in Peter Alonso, Jeff McNeil and Jed Lowrie already ahead of Rivera on the depth chart, it might be hard, but not impossible.
And even if he doesn’t win a starting job, Rivera can still get over 300 at-bats throughout the course of the year filling in on the infield should one of the Mets starters get injured or begin struggling. After all, Robinson Cano, at his advanced age, or McNeil, with his lack of experience, are no proven commodities to hold down their positions full-time for a whole year.
The injury bug is always looming. Alonso may also struggle his rookie year and stay down in AAA a full year longer. Amed Rosario may also regress and not be the promising young shortstop we all thought he may be.
Now one could use that same logic to argue that at 30 years of age, can we really expect a break out year from a guy like Rivera this late in his baseball career?
My answer is yes.
Just look no further than how Daniel Murphy transformed into one of the most feared hitters in baseball when he turned 30 and beyond. We all saw the signs with Murphy before that, but due to one set back or another, he was never able to truly put it all together until his postseason home run barrage with the Mets and his later seasons with the Washington Nationals. I can see a similar trajectory or path for Rivera playing out as well.
Is it likely? I’d say no. But would you be shocked if it happened? Probably not.