Mets continued lack of speed is something they need to address
By Stephen Tomas
The New York Mets haven’t had much luck finding speed on their roster and it’s something they will eventually need to address.
For the past several seasons the New York Mets have been known to be a team with great pitching. In particular, great starting pitching, as their bullpens have frequently let them down.
This past season, largely thanks to the emergence of Pete Alonso, the Mets also became a team capable of doing serious damage to opposing pitchers with the long ball. But how does speed factor into their plans this upcoming season?
Last season the Mets ranked 23rd in stolen bases with just a total of 56 bases stolen as a team by the end of the 2019 regular season. In contrast, the World Series-winning Washington Nationals ranked third with 116 steals as a team, more than double the Mets team total. Despite this, the Mets made few additions to the team that could improve their ability to be disruptive on the bases.
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Past performances made Eduardo Nunez worth a minor league deal, but Nunez is coming off of a down year and is not expected to be a starter even if he does make the big league roster.
When it comes to the source of speed in their everyday lineup, they are mainly relying on their starters from last season. This makes improving in this statistical category a very difficult task. Relying on last year’s starters for sufficient speed is just not a viable option.
The Mets simply do not appear to have anyone from their current starting roster capable of swiping more bags in 2020 besides Amed Rosario. That being said, it would be foolish to assume he’ll improve given his poor track record.
Rosario, 24, has great speed but it has not translated into success as a base stealer. In 2019 Rosario only managed to steal 19 bases out of 29 attempts.
One may argue that this team as constructed has the ability to slug enough extra-base hits to be just fine. The offense will be able to produce without an abundance of speed, therefore it isn’t a main concern. However, being able to attack the base path more aggressively would certainly give the team an added dynamic, and take at least some pressure off of their power hitters.
Whether or not the Mets actually need to improve their presence on the bases this season is debatable, but it would without question add to the potency of their offense. It would also make the team more electric and exciting, especially on the nights that the big bats come up empty at the plate. Homeruns and doubles are great but when a team built to do nothing but slug slumps you tend to see a lot of quick outs and little else.
Manufacturing runs and causing trouble for opposing pitchers after reaching base are still valuable team skills. The Mets missed out on acquiring Starling Marte this offseason which would have improved the team’s outlook at centerfield and added some significant speed to their lineup. They had been rumored to be interested in for weeks, but a trade never materialized. Currently, the plan for center is a combination of Brandon Nimmo and Jake Marisnick.
Nimmo has been known to be a high on-base guy in his short career, but he’ll need to stay healthy and start hitting more in order to keep that reputation. Marisnick, a tremendous defender in center, is not much of a threat at the plate, but his bat does have power when he makes contact. The combo won’t swipe 30 bases but Nimmo certainly runs the bases with more hustle than anyone, and Marisnick has averaged more than 10 stolen bases per season.
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At this point, adding an everyday player with significant speed to the everyday lineup seems unlikely to happen. While a move for Whit Merrifield would be amazing, it appears that the Mets are set to go with a platoon between Nimmo and Marisnick this season. Time will tell whether or not that platoon will be sufficient enough to justify not seeking a more definitive solution.