When the New York Mets had signed utilityman Jonathan Villar late this past offseason to a one-year $3.55 million deal, it was widely expected for the 30-year old veteran to play more of a complementary role off the bench more than anything. Villar had even struggled mightly in Spring Training action with the Mets that many were even beginning to wonder if he would even head north with the ballclub.
Fast forward to the beginning of June and Villar has exceeded any potential expectations that not only I had placed on him after signing in February, but the majority of Mets fans’ expectations as well. While the majority of Villar’s playing time has come at the expense of a wide array of injuries the Mets have been facing since the beginning of May, he has made the most of his playing time and could be considered the face of the Mets’ bench mob group that has kept the ballclub afloat and in first place in the National League East.
If we are being honest my expectations for Villar included being an occasional spot starter, with the ability to come off the bench late in games, as well as provide the Mets with a legitimate threat on the basepaths. After all, from 2016-2019 Villar had produced over 20 stolen bases per season, with a whopping 62 bases stolen in 2016 and 40 bases stolen in 2019.
The Mets signing of Jonathan Villar this past winter has proven to be a steal with his play this season at the hot corner.
Villar is expected to eclipse over 20 stolen bases at his current pace (barring injury), but his bat and his defense are a big reason the Mets are sitting pretty currently in the standings. While Villar has spent the majority of his time at third base for the injured J.D. Davis, there’s even conversation amongst fans that Villar should remain the starter at third once Davis is ready to return from the injured list.
Let us not forget either that Davis was the Mets hottest hitter before going down with his hand injury as he had an incredible slash line of (.390/.479/.610) in his first 48 plate appearances. But as many of us know the sports industry is more of the “what have you done for me lately” sort of business, and Villar has left nothing but a positive impression on both the Mets brass and the fanbase over the last month.
If the Mets are playing baseball in October many of us will look back to the month of May and how Jonathan Villar took the reins of the bench mob and played a key role in the Mets’ success amongst all of the injuries and a fired hitting coach in Chili Davis. Now we just hope that Villar doesn’t succumb to an extended absence after his latest hamstring injury as it seems that we were beginning to witness a player about to take off as he was hitting .375 over his last seven contests.
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Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that Villar is back in action soon and continues to defy my expectations as well as many other Mets’ fans expectations as well.