The New York Mets will enter 2024 with a variation of different lineups they can roll out on a nightly basis. The constants will be Brandon Nimmo hitting leadoff, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil batting second or third, and Pete Alonso in the cleanup spot. Beyond the top four, the Mets have no set order. The team has players with speed like Harrison Bader and Starline Marte, players with contact ability like Joey Wendle, and some young question marks with high-upside in Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty. If nothing else, the Mets will have versatility 5 through 9 in the lineup.
The one blunder in constructing the 2024 Mets lineup is a power bat to hit behind Alonso. Alvarez figures to take this role, but catchers do not play in every game. D.J. Stewart showed great pop in August and September but must prove himself to be legit before being awarded an everyday role. One area the Mets have yet to find a solution to is their designated hitter dilemma. The team has tried with Dominic Smith, J.D. Davis, Darin Ruf, and the aforementioned Daniel Vogelbach, but none of these options seemed to stick. The question for David Stearns is who can internally take the DH role and provide some protection for the Polar Bear?
Mark Vientos is projected to have a power surge in 2024.
Mark Vientos is a man without a position in the major leagues. He split time between first and third base last season, though struggled in the field mightily. This leaves the 24-year-old with just the DH spot which the Mets have an obvious need. Vientos has always shown tremendous power ability in the minor leagues, hitting 25 home runs between AA and AA in 2021, 22 home runs in 2022, and 16 this past season. At the major league level, it wasn't until he was allowed to play every day in September that his power would break out, hitting 6 home runs in 24 games.
The confidence Vientos can take his late-season power surge into 2024 is not just a viewpoint the Mets may hold, but the projections seem to agree as well. Bleacher Report has Vientos as their second most likely player in the majors to breakout with power, while Fangraphs projects him to hit 16 home runs in 350 plate appearances. As a more analytically driven organization under Stearns, the Mets view this potential as legitimate and want to allow the 24-year-old to prove the projections correct.
Should Vientos hit 16 home runs in 350 PA, that would put him on pace for 27 home runs through 600 PA, which would amount to a full season. This potential would give the Mets a young right-handed DH the organization so desperately needs. Furthermore, they will not have to consider a multi-year contract with an aging Jorge Soler or risk a 40-man roster spot by signing J.D. Martinez. The team can construct their lineup much more thoroughly for years to come should they have a young DH protecting Alonso in 2024.