The New York Mets have not had their best of starts thus far in 2020. The team currently sits at a 3-6 record, having lost four in a row. The starting rotation and the bullpen are set to make the year another nightmare for New York despite all the promising acquisitions. However, the lineup might be amongst the few lights in the tunnel.
New York hasn’t had that much difficulty when it comes to scoring runs. The Mets have 38 runs scored in nine games or 4.1 runs per game. The addition of the DH in the National League has benefitted the Mets more than any other team, with Yoenis Cespedes hitting two homeruns and driving in 4 runs.
Yet, he’s batting just .161, which is beyond dissatisfying for any hitter. It isn’t that big of a surprise to see that figure next to Cespedes’s name, though. The Cuban slugger has been exactly as advertised thus far but, as much as this is valued nowadays (and rightfully so), a .161 hitter doesn’t re-invent a lineup.
That leads us to the team’s two hottest performers at the plate – Robinson Cano and J.D. Davis. Cano has been tremendous through the first week of play, batting .393 with a .438 OBP and an OPS of over 1.000. This marks a complete turnaround from a cold 2019 display, which saw him post his second-worst WAR on record (0.3).
The campaign is still too young for his success to be credible, which does bring up a concern we’re going to get to later on. However, it’s still going to be impactful given the 60-game schedule MLB will play this season, if it manages to get to the end. Either way, through the first 1/6 of the season, his WAR of 0.4 is already higher than last year’s.
As mentioned, although his success is a promising sight for evaluators, it’s still nowhere the time to declare the 2018 Mariners/Mets trade a lesser failure to New York. Especially given how Edwin Diaz is performing, and how good Jared Jelenic has been in the Seattle farm system.
On the contrary – his success this year could only give the team false hope and expectations. Remember that averages or percentages are only valuable when the workload is bigger. Ten games are nowhere near what a player needs to prove he’s on the upward/downward spiral. With Cano being 37 years old and past his prime, he’d likely only go down from here.
Worse yet – since he left the Yankees for the Mariners, and subsequently the Mets, Cano’s had three solid seasons and three pretty bad seasons, so he could be up-and-down.
On the one hand, this does give the team some time to explore what their future configuration in the infield is going to be. Jeff McNeil and Andres Gimenez are both multi-positional assets when it comes to the infield. On the other hand, when the answer comes around, the Mets would have a hard time shipping away all of the remaining $96 million on his deal and would have, in a reminder of the grim past, adopt a lot of dead money.
All in all, Cano remains a liability until proven otherwise. The same, however, doesn’t go for JD Davis, who has also stepped up after the league restart.
Davis has begun his campaign batting 8-for-25, or .320, with an OPS of .560 and an OBP of .393. In addition, the former Houston Astro has also hit team-leading two big flies. At the age of 27, Davis has now had four years in the majors. Two of those four years have been excellent. He’s bound to be a lot more valuable between now and 2025 when he hits the free-agent market.
If the season ended now, Davis would have the third-most homeruns since 2019, after Michael Conforto and Pete Alonso. That’s more than Jeff McNeil and Todd Frazier, despite playing about 200 at-bats fewer than the former. He would also have the second-highest batting average, after, of course, Jeff McNeil.
But his contributions don’t just shine within his team. Amongst MLB outfielder aged 27 or younger, JD Davis has the 16th-best OBP, the 18th-best slugging percentage, and the 24th-most WAR. Davis only needs to prove himself in a bigger role and workload to bring excitement regarding what he’ll be like in his prime. Furthermore, he had no problem transitioning to a bigger role during the second half last year.
JD Davis and Robinson Cano have looked equally dominant early on in 2020. However, this brings very little information about their very different future evaluations. The Mets might currently have bigger problems. But in the Mets’ emerging offense, those two bats might be the most valuable this season.
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