Don't overlook rising Mets star Mark Vientos as a catalyst for this team's success

On a team where plenty of guys are hitting, don't overlook what Mark Vientos has done.
New York Mets v Washington Nationals
New York Mets v Washington Nationals / Jess Rapfogel/GettyImages

We’re going to look back on the 2024 New York Mets season with a lot of interesting thoughts. Julio Teheran was on this team? What’s Grimace gotta do with anything? Can someone explain what a Rally Pimp is?

One of those events that’ll slip through the cracks was the preseason decision to go with Brett Baty instead of Mark Vientos. It made sense. Vientos hit for power in the spring but his defense was behind Baty and the strikeouts were piling up.

Vientos received ample playing time in late 2023 only to gain a reputation as a guy who can hit the ball hard and launch a few baseballs. Whether it was a lesson from J.D. Martinez or something else, Vientos is a much different player. He isn’t hitting the ball as hard and yet the results have improved immensely. He is hitting line drives, making contact, and slugging his way into stardom.

Mets slugger Mark Vientos has slapped his doubters in the face this season

In some cases, Vientos has slapped them from 435 feet away.

What was with that leap anyway? It’s the baseball equivalent of waving at your elderly neighbor from your backyard but their hearing is going so they don’t acknowledge you.

If you had to pick a guy to become your new favorite Mets player this year, Vientos would be a strong selection. His strikeout rate of 23.3% is only a tad higher than MLB averages. His 6.9% of home runs is more than double. Then there are the walks which have jumped up from 4.3% in 2023 to 8.2% this year. That’s right there with everyone else.

A hard-hit percentage of just 44.4% this year is still better than the average MLB player but way down for Vientos from the 51% he had last season. He has, however, decided to hit more line drives. From 8.3% in 2022 to 16.8% in 2023, he’s now at 21.1%.

Vientos has been confident at the plate. We’ve seen the same look before from other young Mets players but it fades. Now 159 plate appearances in, he’s swinging like he knows something the pitcher doesn’t.

He has yet to have a bad month. His weakest and largest sample was in June when he still managed to slash .265/.333/.554 with 7 home runs and 17 RBI. Weakest probably isn’t the best word but with even better numbers in other months, that’s what it is.

Not to be overlooked, Vientos has even been superb off the bench. He’s 4 for 8 as a pinch hitter. Well, those opportunities are drying up. He is a starter and there is debate about it.

If there is one place where Vientos could improve it’s in high-leverage spots. Just a .250/.300/.429 hitter in these situations, he has done most of his damage in low-leverage spots. He’s a .318/.353/.651 hitter with 6 of his 11 home runs in plate appearances fitting this description. 

There will be a ton discussed about X-factors for the Mets over the next few weeks. Knowing they have Vientos’ big, bad bat in the middle of the lineup hitting for average and power is one of those elements we shouldn’t take for granted.