Mets Roster: A comprehensive guide to building an elite defense
By Allen Settle
Stop Playing Bad Defenders Out of Position!
I understand why the Mets construct their lineup in the manner that they do. They have an abnormal number of players with great bats, but no natural defensive position where they can excel. Dominic Smith, J.D. Davis, and to some extent Jeff McNeil and Nimmo have all spent time playing out of position.
The addition of the DH slot is a major plus. In fact, there is no National League team that is positioned to benefit more from removing a bat from the field than the New York Mets. It will allow the team to build a much more natural defensive unit.
The first step will be to take Smith’s glove away as much as possible. He is not a good defensive first baseman. And he may be worse in left field. While his flexibility is helpful in a pinch, the rising star needs to take over as the everyday DH. I would limit his defensive play to a maximum of once per week.
If Smith resides at DH, it means Davis will need to be the everyday third baseman. He will likely never be a Gold Glove option at this spot. However, he has played very well in limited action in 2020. If you’re not a stat person, you can skip the next two paragraphs.
Davis’ 7.1 UZR/150 is by far the best of his career. His lifetime average at the position is -3.3. Those numbers are advanced, but they indicate he may have turned a corner as an everyday third baseman. For the record, his numbers are awful in the outfield (career UZR/150 of -17.2). This means they can live with him at 3B.
McNeil’s metrics are solid at 3B (10.0 UZR/150) and LF (6.1 UZR/150). David needs to play third, and McNeil can proficiently man LF. This leaves Alonso locked in at 1B, Cano at 2B, and some combination of Gimenez and Rosario (trade notwithstanding) at SS. The Mets can live with this lineup.
Simply stated, Davis is terrible in the outfield and proficient at 3B. McNeil is a solid defender in most places, making him the ideal everyday LF. The key to this arrangement is the team has to stop shuffling players around unless absolutely necessary. If they trade for a center fielder, Nimmo can take over duties at any OF spot if needed.
The team needs to stop forcing Smith and Davis to play out of position.
These three steps should boost the Mets into the top tier of defensive units. Realmuto would control base runners and provide the best backstop glove in the league. A legitimate center fielder would allow the Mets to get the most from their pitching staff and save the team runs. A Rosario trade also opens up a starting spot for what appears to be a more consistent glove in Gimenez.
If the team is disciplined at keeping each player in their best position, the rest of the diamond will also drastically improve. However, as we have seen, this strategy collapses the moment a player more suited as a DH attempt to play an important position.
Want your voice heard? Join the Rising Apple team!
If these three moves are made, there is no reason the Mets cannot enter the 2021 season with a healthy staff, a dangerous offense, and a top-five defense in the league.