The third installment of New York Mets report cards brings us to the infield.Coming into the season, the New York Mets infield didn’t have high offensive expectations placed upon them like the outfield did, yet somehow still found a way to disappoint. Just like every other position group on the team, injuries and ineffectiveness caught up to them.
However, one of the biggest issues with the infield this year might have been age. The Opening Day infield did not feature one player under 30. That’s not exactly the best way to play strong defense and stay healthy, which contributed to the group grading out poorly.
Infield Grade: D+
Yes, it was that bad. There are only two reasons the infield did not grade as a borderline F— Amed Rosario and Wilmer Flores—so let’s start there.
Wilmer Flores had the best season by a Mets infielder in 2017. His defense was not stellar at third base, but he hit the snot out of the ball at the plate, until it hit the snot out of him. Literally. Look for him to compete for a starting role in 2018, as his nearly .800 OPS would be a welcome addition to the everyday lineup at second or third base.
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We finally got our glimpse of Amed “the tool shed” Rosario. Scouts and pundits, like ESPN’s Keith Law, gushed over Rosario’s ability and it was obvious why: the kid can play. The numbers won’t blow you away, but the difference between his range and Asdrubal Cabrera‘s was night and day.
Not to mention how refreshing it was to watch a player on the Mets legitimately steal bases. By all accounts, his debut should be considered a rousing success. Only 21, the sky is the limit for the impressive prospect.
Rosario’s prospect partner, Dominic Smith, was not nearly as impressive. It’s hard to get on a 22-year-old seeing in his first major league action, but the numbers aren’t flattering. He was bad enough to compile a -1.2 WAR in less than 50 games with the big league club.
Maybe it was hitting under the Mendoza line, maybe it was the lack of range at first base. Either way, Smith will look to right the ship in 2018.
While we’re on the subject of poor range, let’s talk about Asdrubal Cabrera. His fielding this season could not have been more horrendous. The guy committed 17 errors, 11 of which came playing shortstop, and when asked to move to second base by the Mets he reportedly requested a trade.
Cabrera’s hitting also declined from his 2016 numbers, making it an overall disaster of a season for the 31-year-old. But with the Mets being the Mets, you can be sure that they’ll pick up the $8 million team option they have on him for 2018.
Jose Reyes had an eerily similar season to Cabrera. His bat was silent for most of the year while his defensive abilities deteriorated in front of our very eyes. He may have saved himself a 2018 roster spot with his late-season resurgence and 24 stolen bases.
Neil Walker and Lucas Duda had very similar seasons as well. Both dealt with injuries on the Mets, then were traded at the deadline and proceeded to perform better with their new clubs.
Walker could be a candidate to return to the team this offseason, but I would guess general manager Sandy Alderson is going to lowball him because the Mets aren’t likely to spend lavishly over the winter.