NY Mets showing awareness of their defensive shortcomings
The New York Mets are routinely finishing games in 2020 with a better defensive alignment, proving they are fully aware of their shortcomings on that side of the baseball.
When the New York Mets went out and acquired Jake Marisnick this winter it was obvious why. The team needed some defensive help in the outfield, most notably in center field.
Before landing on the IL, Marisnick saw his share of action at the position early on in 2020, routinely coming into games late as a defensive replacement. He’s not alone in this role either. Andres Gimenez made the Mets’ Opening Day roster. His main job has been to finish off games as the second baseman in place of Robinson Cano.
The almost automatic defensive change late in games shows the Mets are fully aware of how inefficient they are on defense. It’s a good thing. Not everyone can acknowledge a weakness like this.
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The painful part of this is that although the Mets have two good defenders to plug in late, this hardly solves the rest of the defense. Excluding the pitchers, because they can just point at the sky whenever there’s a pop-up, this team has some less-than-stellar glove work.
Marisnick has been replacing J.D. Davis in the lineup late and allowing Brandon Nimmo to shift over to left field where he’s more of a natural. This gives them a final outfield of Nimmo in left field, Marisnick in center field, and Michael Conforto in right field.
The interesting thing about Conforto is that he might be the best defensive player at his starting position. Take everyone from a typical Mets starting lineup. In right field, I question him the least.
Behind the plate, we can debate all day about how Wilson Ramos calls a game. Pete Alonso is still growing at first base and Amed Rosario has some kinks to work out at shortstop.
Perhaps the most surprising defensive results have come from the hot corner. Jeff McNeil has looked lost out there, committing three errors in his first five games of the season. The super-utility man with an All-Star bat may not be built for third base after all. Given how well he hits and his adjustments last year to playing a lot more of the outfield, I’m willing to cut him slack.
This isn’t a complaint. This is more of an acknowledgment of the fact that the Mets were fully aware of what they needed to improve—at least in this one regard.
The team carries with them a bench with other solid defenders including Tomas Nido and Luis Guillorme. I would also praise Rene Rivera for his abilities and the work he has done over the years with multiple Mets pitchers. If all he does is give some comfort to Jacob deGrom, he’s worth keeping around.
Building a baseball team isn’t an easy task. It requires a little bit of humility. To their credit, the Mets prepared themselves well for one of the franchise’s biggest holes.
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In addition to preparing, they deployed those defensive troops to handle those late innings.