The 2021 Mets Roster has continued to take shape over the past months. However, despite having several capable bats, the opening day lineup still holds many questions. This is large because the Mets have several players who can either be moved around to a variety of positions or don’t really have a position at all. There is also still a lack of clarity surrounding the DH in the National League, and for a Mets team with several square peg-round hole players, it holds a lot of importance.
2021 Mets Roster: Position Player Musical Chairs
The 2021 Mets Roster has somewhere around 10-11 position players who should have a guaranteed spot on the opening day roster.
The problem here is obvious, six of these ten are infielders by trade. Hence why Mets’ president of baseball operations Sandy Alderson has been quoted saying the 2021 Mets roster includes “only two outfielders.” Of course, in true Mets fashion, this led to McNeil, Davis, and Smith all getting playing time in the outfield in 2019 and 2020, albeit with mixed results. McNeil held his own in the outfield but is also capable of playing second and third. Smith was barely playable in left, and should really only be playing first base. Davis was unplayable in the outfield but really isn’t better on the infield.
Making this mess worse, however; is the fact that neither Conforto nor Nimmo should be playing center field.
Over the last few years, the Mets have been one of the worst defensive teams in baseball, furthering the “LOLMets” narrative that has followed the team for years. Especially now, when new owner Steve Cohen is making a concerted effort to change the culture around the team, a new emphasis on defensive prowess would be another step in the right direction.
Part of this solution could certainly come in the form of adding an elite defensive center fielder to the 2021 Mets Roster. Now that George Springer is off the table, rumors have connected the team to Jackie Bradley Jr. as well as Albert Almora. In addition to this, the Mets should also look at some of their internal possibilities as well.
Solution: Luis Guillorme
The 2021 Mets Roster gains significant defensive versatility from the presence of infielder Luis Guillorme. Guillorme first arrived in the majors with the Mets in 2018 and has since worked mostly as a defensive replacement and pinch hitter. Guillorme is an exceptional defender, with above-average stats at both short and second, and mixed results at third base.
Guillorme has always been known for his defense, not his bat. However, in the shortened 2020 season, Guillorme got several more starts than anticipated and posted an impressive 144 wRC+. One positive sign is Guillorme’s on-base ability, never having a season with a walk rate below 10%.
If the defensive whiz can maintain this level of production on the 2021 Mets Roster, he certainly deserves a starting role. However, it is more likely his offense would regress toward his career average of 93 wRC+. Nonetheless, Guillorme has earned a more significant role on this team. The Mets have no shortage of offensive prowess but could benefit from better defensive play. Further, with recent rumblings pointing towards the DH in the NL being likely, this would allow the bats of Smith and Davis to get more plate appearances.
The 2021 Mets Roster seems to have two positional locks with Alonso at first and Lindor at shortstop. Guillorme would slot in best at second base, giving the Mets one of the best double play defenses in the majors. This would shift McNeil to third, where he also grades positively with the glove.
Pivoting to the internal option of Guillorme would also free up some payroll space for the team to add a center fielder, thereby pushing Conforto and Nimmo to the corners.
Alternatively, if the DH does not come to the National League, the Mets could slide Nimmo to center and get Smith and Davis occasional at-bats in left. Either way, Luis Guillorme could factor into a more defensive-minded 2021 Mets lineup.
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