DJ Stewart's surprising success in August and September for the New York Mets was nothing more than a feel good story. The Mets had already waved the white flag on their 2023 season after an unprecedented sell-off at the trade deadline that succeeded a summer of underachievement.
Stewart, a 2015 first-round draft pick by the Baltimore Orioles, was given an opportunity to show he can be a viable major leaguer. He pounced on it in his first action not with the Orioles organization. In 58 games as a Met last year, he had a .244 batting average with 11 home runs (including 10 in a 17-game span), and an .840 OPS.
This offseason, the Mets chose to keep Stewart over Daniel Vogelbach, who was the team's primary DH in 2023. The Mets felt that Stewart would bring more to the table than just hitting than Vogelbach, who did not play a single inning in the field as a Met. Can Stewart repeat his success in 2024?
New York Mets oufielder DJ Stewart will start the season as the primary designated hitter, and will likely platoon as a DH and an outfielder.
Stewart is projected to make the Mets' Opening Day roster as the fourth outfielder, with Brandon Nimmo, Harrison Bader, and Starling Marte as the projected trio of starting outfielders. Stewart has not shown he is an above average outfielder at any point in his career. However, he made some nice plays tracking down fly balls, and his arm strength is pretty good, averaging 87.8 mph on his throws last year.
Looking deeper into Stewart's splits, he hit .265 against righties and just .154 versus lefties last year. So it looks like his playing time will be limited and he will probably sit in favor of Mark Vientos when the Mets face left-handed pitching.
The key to Stewart's success last year was how well he could hit breaking balls. With Baltimore n 2021, he had just 5 hits in 58 at-bats against breaking balls with 30 strikeouts. Last year, he had 16 hits in 47 at-bats, including four home runs against those pitches. So if Stewart is given an opportunity to play for an extended time, his ability to hit breaking balls will determine the extent of playing time. Perhaps 300 at-bats will be his ceiling with the current roster construction?
2024 stat predictions: .230 AVG, 10 HR, 35 RBI, .705 OPS