The New York Mets have gotten minimal production out of the DH position this year, that’s no secret. The two players who were supposed to produce, J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith, haven’t done so. Naturally, fans are looking for other solutions.
One of the most popular ones has been calling up Mark Vientos from Triple-A, the Mets’ No. 5 prospect on MLB Pipeline.
It makes sense. Davis and Smith have combined for three home runs through over 300 at-bats this year. That’s bad.
Vientos is up to 17 home runs in Triple-A through Sunday, July 24, and counting. It’s easy to just scroll Twitter and see “Vientos hit another home run tonight for Syracuse” and think there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be in the majors.
Highlights look nice on social media, but usually, they don’t actually reflect reality.
There are some significant concerns with Vientos’ game that could be magnified if called up to the Mets.
Vientos, as a right-handed hitter, would be taking Davis’ role as the DH against left-handed pitching. One of Davis’ biggest issues this season, and why fans want to see him replaced, is strikeouts. Through Sunday, he’s striking out a 31.3% clip — that’s really, really bad.
Vientos has a 32.1% strikeout percentage. He has a higher strikeout percentage in Triple-A than Davis has in the majors. What do people think is going to happen against major league pitching?
Usually, when minor leaguers with a lot of swing and miss in their game are called up, they don’t magically stop striking out. They strike out even more.
Thinking back to last year, Khalil Lee struck out in six of his 23 minor league plate appearances before being called up to the majors. It’s an incredibly small sample size, yes, but that’s a 26.1% strikeout percentage. Before that in 2019 in AA with the Royals it was at 28.2% over a full season, so the swing and miss was nothing new.
When he was called up in 2021, he proceeded to strike out in each of his first eight plate appearances in the majors (and 13 of 18 overall before being sent back down). Then for the rest of the year in Triple-A, it went back down to 29.9% — still very high, but nothing close to what it was in the majors.
Let’s take Nick Plummer from this year. Before he was called up (excluding his short two-game MLB stint at the beginning of the year), Plummer had a 27.3% strikeout percentage in Syracuse. Yes, he had some initial heroics right after he was called up, but when the dust settled, his line ended up at .138/.194/.373 with a 38.7% strikeout percentage in the majors.
Vientos strikes out more than both Lee and Plummer in Triple-A. Sure, he’s hit a lot of home runs too, but that is incredibly far from a guarantee to continue in the majors. Even Dom Smith hit two home runs when he was briefly sent down to Syracuse, and he doesn't have a major league home run in over a calendar year. Major league pitching is a different animal, there are no guarantees.
Against left-handed pitching, his significantly stronger side, Vientos still strikes out 25% of the time. There are only four Mets hitters (minimum 10 MLB plate appearances) who are at a 25% or higher strikeout percentage this season: Plummer, Davis, Tomás Nido and Robinson Canó.
Again, that’s his STRONG side. And that’s in Triple-A, not the majors.
If promoted, there’s a serious risk he will be exposed by major league pitching, which could hurt his potential trade value.
The Mets should by no means sit tight. Even after acquiring Daniel Vogelbach, at least one more bat is needed.
Just please don’t expect Vientos to be the answer.