New York Mets: T.J. Rivera’s best and worst case scenarios for 2019
By Staff Writer
Worst Case Scenario
A lot of what Rivera’s opportunities are, as far as playing time and production goes, could depend on factors outside of his control in 2019. As of now, the Mets are considering a combination of McNeil, Lowrie, and last year’s starter Todd Frazier to start at third base. They will give Alonso all the opportunity to win the everyday starting first baseman’s job in 2019. As a result, there’s not much room for Rivera.
Should Alonso turn out to be a power hitting right handed hitter that gets off to a torrid start and either McNeil or Lowrie continue to flourish both offensively and defensively from last year, Rivera might not see a lot of playing time to prove himself. It is also very likely that Cano returns to his old form and stays both healthy and drug-free for this upcoming year. This will also shrink Rivera’s role and limit him to nothing more than a bench player.
Frazier may also find his power stroke and show Mets fans that 2018 was more of an aberration than a trend. From 2014 to 2017, Frazier averaged 32 home runs and 85 RBI a year for the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago White Sox.
With the Mets sorely needing a right-handed power bat that can drive in the runs from the cleanup spot, any power surge by Frazier will surely cut into the amount of playing time Rivera will see. That will relegate Rivera to nothing more than a bench substitute player that gets about 200 at-bats for the season.
If Rivera doesn’t get more than 200 at-bats for the season for any of the reasons above and doesn’t show that he has fully healed from his Tommy John surgery, he probably won’t hit more than .225 for the year with a few home runs and four to six doubles. Other players in the Mets minor league system like Luis Guillorme or Dilson Herrera could get called up to eventually take his place on the bench by late May or early June.
The once scrappy underdog who worked so diligently and relentlessly to make a name for himself in the Majors could be no more.
But realistically, I think Rivera will end up coming back to form although his at-bats and playing time that Wilmer Flores was getting in 2017 and 2018 will still be severely limited now that the Mets have added Lowrie into the mix. With his ability to play multiple positions all over the infield and the inevitability that the Mets will suffer some injuries to their starters on the infield diamond, Rivera should still project out to getting 200 to 250 at-bats. Producing a .295 batting average with 10 home runs, 20 doubles and 40 to 45 RBI in 2019 is still not out of the realm of possibility.
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However, one still has to consider Rivera’s defense and throwing range declining as Rivera is just coming off of Tommy John surgery rehab. This is something the Mets will closely have to monitor. Nonetheless, I feel that the best of what this Bronx native can give us, as far as defensive versatility and clutch hitting goes, is still yet to come.