Brett Baty has gone from "deer in the headlights" to "bull with the whip"

Confidence and swagger are a new addition to Brett Baty this year.
Detroit Tigers v New York Mets - Game Two
Detroit Tigers v New York Mets - Game Two / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

The English language is flawed beyond reason. Example: there is no good antonym for the idiom “deer in the headlights.” Used to describe that hopeless feeling of being out-of-place and mismatched, how do we say the exact opposite? There must be a way to creatively express the way New York Mets third baseman Brett Baty has appeared this season and still include animals.

Confident. Productive. Completely different from last year. Baty is in control. He’s the bull with the whip.

Brett Baty season has arrived in 2024

Offensively, Baty is slashing .311/.354/.378 with only 1 home run to show for it and zero doubles. It’s okay. The power will come. The slumping Mets offense has benefitted from those singles this season.

Now inserted in the middle of the lineup more regularly, those RBI opportunities should be far more plentiful. He goes into Friday tied for third on the team with 6 runs driven in. Only Brandon Nimmo with an astonishing 10 out of the leadoff spot and Tyrone Taylor whose grand slam pushed him into second place have more ribbies.

But it’s not his hitting that has impressed folks most. Baty was always meant to figure things out at the plate to some extent. The way he has played defense is what has him going from helpless fawn to a bull ready to become Spartacus against his Matador.

The eye test shows us how good Baty has been.

This was just his latest highlight. Playful upon making the snag, he has truly looked like he is indeed having fun out there.

What about the numbers? 

Baty’s Total Zone Rating (a measuring of several different defensive statistics, essentially) is at 8. It’s early but it ranks second on the Mets behind Harrison Bader at an astonishing 44 and Francisco Lindor at 6. For some more understanding of this, Baty finished last year with a -24 in this statistic. He was at -27 in his far briefer stint with the club in 2022.

All over the place, Baty’s defensive numbers are measuring up well. His work with Lindor has paid off early.

Most important might be the confidence. Baty continues to turn to his teammate, Lindor, after many of these awesome plays. The communication between the two is incredible to see as it appears both are on the same page.

Baty hasn’t fully arrived in some areas, but the look of fear in his eyes is completely gone. Less than a year ago, he had a defeated look in his eyes whenever things went wrong.

Something about the Baty we’ve seen this year suggests even when things do go wrong he’ll be able to move on more quickly.