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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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Mets

Second Base

In 2018, the Mets started the season with a converted shortstop, Asdrubal Cabrera, at second base. He played the position well, but after the team collapsed in June he was traded to the Phillies.

After the trade, the position became fluid, being shared between struggling veteran José Reyes and struggling rookie Luis Guillorme.

By the end of July, the organization decided it was time to move in a new direction at second base. The team called up Jeff McNeil, who was raking in AAA.

When he was called up, he saw no dip in production, batting .329 in 63 Major League games.

What’s even more impressive is that he doesn’t strike out, a quality not many players in today’s game have. In 248 plate appearances, McNeil struck out only 24 times. This is very impressive, especially in a year in which there were more strikeouts than hits across the league.

While in AAA, his fielding was described by some scouts as “Daniel Murphy 2.0.” However, he wound up having a great season at second.

For these reasons, Mets fans see McNeil as an extremely valuable piece moving forward.

However, he will likely not be at second base next season.

In the December trade that brought Robinson Canó back to New York, the Mets acquired an elite second baseman at the plate and in the field.

In a 2018 shortened by a PED suspension, Canó hit .303 with an OBP of .374, along with 10 home runs and 50 RBI. If he is slowing down with old age, he has yet to show signs of it. With Yoenis Cespedes on the disabled list, Canó is easily the best bat in the lineup.

With the acquisition of Canó, McNeil will more than likely be used as a utility player, spending time at third and in the outfield. Some fans are weary of this plan, but forget to take into account that there is a reason Canó played on two American League teams and was never considered a designated hitter.

In Philadelphia, the structure of the middle infield is going to depend on whether or not the team signs highly-touted free agent Manny Machado. As of now, second base is occupied by César Hernandez.

Hernandez is an average player who had a down year in 2018. A career .276 hitter, he had a career high 15 home runs and 60 RBI last season, but his average dropped to .253 and he struck out 155 times.

The Braves seem to have found their long-term second baseman in Ozzie Albies. In 2018, his first full season in the league, he hit .261 with 24 home runs. His batting average dropped in games he played against the Mets, but he drove in 12 runs in those games, his most against any team.

Mets fans are delighted that the Nationals did not re-sign former Met, Daniel Murphy, who played great baseball against the team. Instead, Washington decided to move in a different direction and signed veteran Brian Dozier.

Dozier has been a great player over his career but has never been a household name in the MLB. It also seems that age is catching up to him. He made his first World Series appearance after being traded mid-season by the Minnesota Twins to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but in 2018, he saw a sharp decline in his numbers across the board.

Dozier’s average dropped to .215, and he had the second-lowest OPS in his career at .696. He had slightly better numbers before the trade than after, so the decline could be due to uncomfortability in a new situation.

The Marlins have second base locked down by Starlin Castro, the only Major League piece they acquired in the infamous Giancarlo Stanton trade with the New York Yankees. Last season, while frustrated with the organization, he did the most he could to perform for the team.

In 2018, Castro hit .278 with 12 home runs. The only number that was not around his career average was RBI, which is excusable given the situation around him.

As it stands today, the Mets have the top, most established second baseman in the NL East.

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