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How the Mets infield in 2019 compares to the rest of the NL East

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NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 04: Amed Rosario #1 and Jeff McNeil #68 of the New York Mets celebrate after defeating the Atlanta Braves 3-0 at Citi Field on August 4, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 04: Amed Rosario #1 and Jeff McNeil #68 of the New York Mets celebrate after defeating the Atlanta Braves 3-0 at Citi Field on August 4, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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First Base

Last season, the Mets did not have a player to lock down the first base position.

The team experimented with Adrián González, a player who has had a ton of success in his career against the Mets, to begin the season. This plan ultimately failed and he was released before the All-Star break.

During the second half of the season, the team decided to put struggling outfielder Jay Bruce at first. This move infuriated fans for two reasons.

The first reason was that the Mets, in theory, just swapped second-year first baseman Dominic Smith and Jay Bruce. Smith struggled in the outfield last season, and Jay Bruce did not play first base at all during Spring Training. Many fans agree that the move seemed pointless.

The second reason was that there was a first baseman who was tearing the ball up on the AAA team, Peter Alonso. Manager Mickey Callaway cited his defense as the reason he was not being called up to the majors, at the same time the team was moving players all over the diamond.

Going into this season, it seems likely that Alonso will get every opportunity to earn the starting job at first. As it currently stands, Smith has not shown enough to start in this league, and Alonso has been named the top first base prospect in the MLB. If he continues on his path of success, he can be the Mets’ starting first baseman for a long time to come.

However, if the Mets decide to keep him in the minor leagues for the first few weeks of the season to gain an extra year of service time, the team might experiment with Jeff McNeil or Todd Frazier at first.

How does the Mets’ first base situation compare to those around the division?

Going into the 2019 season, the Washington Nationals will stick with veteran Ryan Zimmerman at first. Zimmerman is known well by Mets fans because of his performance against the team, and his friendship with former third baseman and captain, David Wright.

After a career resurgence in 2017, he took a step back last season, playing in only 85 games. He hit .264 with 21 home runs and 51 RBI. However, he is always a threat against the Mets.

After trading Carlos Santana to the Mariners (he was then traded to the Indians shortly after), the Philadelphia Phillies have committed to Rhys Hoskins at first base. He has played the majority of his Major League career in the outfield but is more comfortable at first, a position he played as a child.

Hoskins won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2017 and has only improved since. In 2018, his first full season, he had an on-base percentage of .354, 96 RBI and 34 home runs. He is a dangerous player with a bat in his hands.

The best first baseman in the NL East and one of the best in the league resides in Atlanta. Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves has been one of the most consistent players in the division for the past eight years, and his 2018 season was one of his best.

He played in all 162 games and had a .309 average with a career-high 191 hits. He only hit 23 home runs, three below is 162-game average, but he still produced 98 runs. If he stays healthy, he is by far the best first baseman in the division.

The Miami Marlins are the only team in the division without a set plan at first base. It seems the favorite to win the starting job is Peter O’Brien, a former Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder most well-known by Mets fans for catching a pop fly in foul territory during David Wright’s last Major League at-bat. In 22 games with the Marlins, he has a .273 average with 4 home runs, 10 RBI and 22 strikeouts.

At the first base position, it is fair to say that the Mets currently rank fourth in the division.

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