New York Mets fans won’t stop banging pots and pans demanding the team sign a DH despite the ZiPS projections stating Mark Vientos will have a year not far off from free agent J.D. Martinez.
Projected statistics aren’t the Holy Grail of the future. They're barely even Comotomo Sippy Cup. Often, these projections are a bit lower than what a player did the previous year. They never project an amazingly awesome season for a player or an incredibly bad year.
This Vientos vs. Martinez battle seems to be a bit of an exception. Vientos is projected to have a season so similar to a veteran DH coming off of a really good season. While not outrageous for Vientos, the spin on Martinez having such a down year is a bit perplexing.
J.D. Martinez remains the superior albeit unlikely DH option for the Mets
Having personally accepted the Mets will not sign a DH, it’s nice to see projections for Vientos to look like this. A batting average significantly higher than what he has done in the majors already plus 20 home runs isn’t so bad. Where these projections seemed to lose everyone was with how down they are on Martinez.
It’s not as if Martinez, who turns 37 in August, finished the year poorly. His September/October numbers included a .333/.371/.679 slash line, 8 home runs, and 25 RBI. Plugged into an elite Los Angeles Dodgers lineup helped him power 33 home runs and drive in 103.
Health concerns for Martinez over the last two seasons haven’t taken away his abilities, although he did see his playing time cut down last year. Despite his lowest plate appearance total in a decade other than 2020, he produced on the field at a high level.
Martinez wasn’t invincible, striking out 31.1% of the time—the worst of his career. Walks were down, too. However, home runs in 6.9% of his chances was the second highest total of his career. This is remarkable considering he was a rookie the year the Pyramids were built.
True projections, Mets fans weren’t shy about referencing how this reminded us of the James McCann versus J.T. Realmuto debate.
It would be a huge win for the Mets to get anything close to what ZiPS projects for Vientos let alone have it so closely match the kind of production Martinez will offer a team in 2024. It just doesn’t seem realistic in any conceivable way.