New York Mets outfielder Mark Canha has been strong at the plate to start his tenure with the team, as he enters play on Thursday with a .338 batting average, a .405 on-base percentage, and 22 hits in 65 at-bats.
This strong start is not by accident, as he has patiently taken the right pitches and placed balls in play for hits as he is a reason why the Mets as a team have the highest on-base percentage and second highest batting average in the major leagues. But Canha’s past tells us he is in for a slump at some point.
Mark Canha has been lucky, intentional or not
When the Mets originally brought Canha in as a free agent from Oakland, they were advertising consistency, ability to get on base, and occasional power, not contact. He has sacrificed hard hitting for contact, perhaps by design with the cold weather and the deadened baseballs that Jeff McNeil has talked about recently. His hard-hit rate is at its lowest (28.6%) and has only had one barrel hit, which was the home run he hit off Atlanta’s Max Fried on Monday, his first as a Met. That ball travelled 388 feet. The next longest base hit went for 255 feet (that was on April 10 in Washington). So Canha has had success making sure the ball stays in play and forcing defenders to make plays for themselves.
But even though contact has been a focal point of Mets hitting coach Eric Chavez’s input in improving the offense, Canha’s strikeout percentage is the highest it has been in five years, striking out in 23.0% of his plate appearances (17 of 74). According to Baseball Savant, his chase rate, outs above average, and walks have gotten worse relative to the competition from last year.
Before this season, his career high in batting average is .273 and lifetime a .247 hitter, so it would be hard to believe that Canha’s current figure, .338, will sustain itself. Fans should be impressed though if Canha continues to hit at this torrid pace.
He will have opportunities to keep his strong averages up during their upcoming road trip to Philadelphia and Washington, where their respective home team’s pitchers have struggled. However, when they see better pitching again with the likes of the Dodgers, Giants, and Cardinals whom the Mets will face the next few weeks, Mets fans will have an idea about how successful Canha will be as a Met.