Is Mark Vientos really breaking out this season? That is what the New York Mets will be banking on if they want to go back to the playoffs in 2024. Vientos is coming off a forgettable rookie season, hitting just .211 with nine home runs.
The Mets are unlikely to bring in another third baseman or designated hitter veteran outside the organization before the start of the season. So, it’s put-up-or-shut-up time for Vientos (and for Brett Baty) as the third base job is up for grabs.
New York Mets third baseman Mark Vientos will win the Opening Day third base job and then move to designated hitter midseason.
There are smart people out there who think Vientos can hit 20 or more home runs this season. Much of that opinion is based upon Vientos hitting seven home runs in August and September following a wrist injury he suffered in the middle of August (some of them were impressive shots).
But that will not happen if Vientos stays undisciplined at the plate. Vientos struck out 71 times in just 218 at-bats last year. The at-bats, for the most part, were non-competitive, especially when it came to inability to recognize off-speed pitches. His whiff rates on sliders, curveballs, changeups, and splitters were all over 40 percent last season. Those are not rates of a major league hitter and it must change for the better if he wants to stay in the majors. He will be in for a monster season if those numbers are reduced, thanks to his power talents.
With all due respect to DJ Stewart’s run with the Mets in the second half of 2023, the Mets will need to turn the page and see what Vientos is made of and get him more at-bats. The only way for Vientos to get better as a hitter to get more playing time, and that will be to make him the regular designated hitter. Eventually, he will start hitting for better contact and I think he will be bat sixth in the Mets lineup regularly by the end of the season.
2024 stat predictions: .240 AVG, 15 HR, 57 RBI, .710 OPS