NY Mets: Tim Tebow’s narrow pathway to the major leagues

PORT ST. LUCIE, FLORIDA - MARCH 03: Tim Tebow #85 of the New York Mets at bat during the spring training game against the Miami Marlins at Clover Park on March 03, 2020 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
PORT ST. LUCIE, FLORIDA - MARCH 03: Tim Tebow #85 of the New York Mets at bat during the spring training game against the Miami Marlins at Clover Park on March 03, 2020 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The New York Mets are waiting to see if Tim Tebow can prove himself worthy of a roster spot. In order for him to get called up, he must first improve his power.

The New York Mets knew that signing Tim Tebow to a minor league deal would lead to much discussion, especially since Tebow has always been a polarizing figure in sports. From his Heisman days at the University of Florida to his days as a starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos, Tebow managed to win two national titles with Florida and a playoff game with the Broncos despite his unorthodox mechanics and archetypal skills.

When MLB.com reported that Tebow signed with the Mets, no one in the sports world was bullish on him: They pointed out the fact that he had not played professional baseball since 2005, and many expected him to never take the field for the Mets.

Tim Tebow started his minor league career with the Columbia Fireflies, hitting .226/.309/.347 with 8 home runs and 52 RBIs in 126 games. As his minor league career progressed, Tebow appeared to improve. Despite his questionable promotion to Double-A Binghamton, Tebow performed well enough to justify his roster spot. He batted .273/.336/.399 with 6 home runs and 36 RBIs in 84 games, which prompted his promotion to Triple-A Syracuse.

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However, his solid performance did not continue upon getting promoted. Tebow struggled during his brief stint in Triple-A, batting .163/.240/.255 with 4 home runs and 19 RBIs in 77 games.

Although an exiguous sample size, numerous aspects to Tebow’s game contributed to his struggles in Triple-A, and one of his weaknesses—power hitting—is particularly troublesome because it displays that he has yet to adjust to what MLB teams are looking for in their outfielders.

Over his minor league career that has spanned 287 games, Tebow has only hit 18 home runs. Over a 162-game season, this amounts to approximately 10 home runs. With the MLB seeing a rise in the number of home runs being clubbed, Tebow’s game needs to adjust to this new offensive trend.

For comparison, the Mets’ three starting outfielders in 2020 (Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Conforto) hit 4, 8, and 9 home runs, respectively. Taking into account the amount of games they played in 2020, in a 162-game season, this would amount to 12 or 13 home runs for McNeil, 27 for Conforto, and around 23 or 24 for Nimmo.

Considering what the Mets left fielders contribute, Tebow should shoot for averaging between 15 and 20 home runs over a 162-game season. To increase his power, Tebow first needs to focus on transferring his weight more smoothly as he swings. This will enable him to generate more torque, which will in turn transfer more energy to the ball once it makes contact with the bat.

Tebow is restarting his minor league career under tough and unexpected conditions. Because of the COVID-19 health emergency, the 2020 minor league season was canceled, leaving him and the other minor leaguers at a competitive disadvantage. Losing a year of playing competitive baseball was a wretched inconvenience, especially for a player who needs as much playing time as possible to showcase his improvement. It is a fair question to wonder how the long layoff might have impacted him. Being 33 years of age also does not help his cause as teams tend to promote younger players who offer more potential.

Tebow is going to need more than a rash of incommodious injuries to make it to the majors. Even if the Mets suffer several injuries in the outfield, Tebow will likely not be one of the first outfielders to be called up.

Originally, Tebow’s best chance at receiving major league playing time would have been in September when rosters expand. However, since roster expansion is now reduced to only 28 players, Tebow’s primary path to playing time is all but wiped out. His performance, therefore, needs to be extraordinary in Triple-A this season.

Next. Expectations for the 2021 Mets

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As a result, his promotion is extremely unlikely. For Tebow to have a chance at the majors, he needs to generate All-Star production at the Triple-A level along with a little serendipity in the form of player injuries to earn a roster spot. 2021 provides him an opportunity to show the Mets that he deserves to take the field late in the season.