Brett Baty knew 2023 was going to be an important year. After the Carlos Correa saga ended with him re-signing with the Minnesota Twins, the path was there for Baty to show the Mets he could be their long-term solution at third base.
New York was secretly hoping that’d happen, too. It became less of a secret once Baty finally got back to the big leagues and Eduardo Escobar was traded to the Los Angeles Angels.
After a strong start, it’s been a bumpy ride for the 23-year-old. With eyes on competing next year, the Mets hoped to gain clarity regarding third base. That hasn’t happened. Through 348 MLB plate appearances this year, Baty is slashing .212/.282/.314 with seven home runs, 29 RBI, and 35 runs scored. Despite a 1.013 OPS in Triple-A, that number is down at .596 in The Show. It’s accompanied by a 69 wRC+ (nice) and -0.5 fWAR.
If you go to social media, you’ll see many posts talking about Baty not being the long-term answer. Ronny Mauricio has looked good in limited action, so let’s hand him the keys to third base, right?
Not so fast — on both those things. Mauricio has looked solid and probably should’ve been called up months ago by New York. But he’s racked up fewer than 40 big-league plate appearances thus far. It’s too early to draw any conclusions.
Baty has racked up many more trips to the plate in the majors (390). However, it’s also too early to wave the white flag on him.
I saw a comparison between Baty and Mike Schmidt on Reddit and thought it was interesting. Here’s the gist of it…
Brett Baty’s early-career numbers
In 2022 (age-22 season): .184/.244/.342 for a .586 OPS in 11 games (42 plate appearances).
In 2023 (age-23 season): .212/.282/.314 for a .596 OPS in 97 games (348 plate appearances).
Mike Schmidt’s early-career numbers
In 1972 (age-22 season): .206/.325/.294 for a .619 OPS in 13 games (40 plate appearances).
In 1973 (age-23 season): .196/.324/.373 for a .697 OPS in 132 games (443 plate appearances).
And just in case you’re wondering, Schmidt’s 1974 season was his breakout. He slashed .282/.395/.546 with a league-leading 36 home runs, 116 RBI, and 108 runs scored. He was selected to the All-Star Game and placed sixth in NL MVP voting.
What does this all mean?
Now, let’s not get it twisted — I’m not suggesting the Mets have a future Hall of Famer and one of the best players to ever play third base on their hands. I’m also not suggesting the Mets should just pencil him in as their everyday third baseman in 2024.
But what I am saying is prospects sometimes need time to blossom. Being tabbed as a top prospect is a big honor. It can also lead to unrealistic expectations. Just because they have that potential doesn’t mean they’re destined to immediately hit the ground running at the game’s highest level.
The Schmidt-Baty comparison isn’t exactly apples to apples because Schmidt had more time in the minors before his debut. This is still a good reminder, though.
There’s still a very good chance Baty could be a significant piece of the Mets’ future success. There’s also a chance it doesn’t work out, or that it’ll happen somewhere other than Queens. That will be in the hands of Billy Eppler and David Stearns this winter.
We can evaluate how Baty has performed thus far in the big leagues. However, let’s not just assume he’s a bust and want to move on.