Grading Every Mets Hitter in April
With the first month of the 2013 season in the books, the Mets look very similar to the team they fielded in 2012. The starting pitching at times has been great, while in other games, the starters have looked completely lost. The bullpen has been very inconsistent and while the offense has shown its potential, it has also been quite inconsistent. As a result, a 10-14 record thus far should not come as a big surprise.
In the first installment of a two-part reflection, here are the April grades for each of the Mets' hitters.
All statistics current as of 5/1/2013.
C John Buck
If anyone has carried the Mets' offense through the first month of the 2013 season, it has been John Buck. His nine home runs are tied for second in the National League and his 25 RBI lead the National League.
Buck was hitting well right out of the gate and at times was singlehandedly carrying the Mets' offense, despite batting .241 with only a .269 OBP. Buck would have earned an "A" if not for his OBP being as low as it is.
Defensively, Buck has done a great job working with the Mets' pitching staff and has helped Matt Harvey in particular pitch as well as he has. His presence as a mentor for top prospect Travis d'Arnaud will most likely become very useful once d'Arnaud gets called up later this season.
1B Ike Davis
Overall, Ike Davis' start to his 2013 season has been better than the dreadful start he had in 2012. Davis likely has a lot more confidence in himself now and despite batting .165, has shown the same power that helped him hit 32 home runs a year ago.
Davis has shown patience at the plate with 12 walks in 95 plate appearances, but the hits just have not occurred too often so far. Hopefully, he can really start hitting sometime in May. In 2012, Davis did not really break out of his long slump until late June. It would be nice to see Davis have a more consistent season this year.
2B Daniel Murphy
One of the more underrated second baseman in the league, Daniel Murphy has continued to hit well and get on base for the Mets. He is batting .289 with two home runs and 13 RBI so far.
Murphy has not been particularly patient at the plate but has made up for it with his team-leading 28 hits in 97 at-bats. His defense has continued to improve as well.
SS Ruben Tejada
Ruben Tejada has gotten off to a below average start generally speaking. He is batting .247 with seven doubles and eight RBI.
He has not really gotten going yet offensively and his defense has not been particularly good with six errors already. Tejada, though, is just 23 and still has a long time to really develop as a player.
3B David Wright
Not surprisingly, David Wright has been the Mets' most consistent hitter this past month. He leads the team with a .291 average and is second in RBI with 19. He also has two home runs, four doubles, three triples and six stolen bases.
Wright's power has not shown up yet, but with time, it should arrive as he tries to hit more than 25 home runs for the first time since 2010. Wright is a great leader for the Mets and they will need him if they want to really win more than they did last year.
LF Lucas Duda
Lucas Duda's start to his 2013 season has been pretty good, especially when considering the second half slump he endured in 2012.
Duda already has five home runs and eight RBI, but the best part of Duda's season has been the patience he has shown at the plate. Duda has drawn 20 walks in 94 plate appearances, which has boosted his OBP to .436, despite a .264 average.
Duda has looked more comfortable defensively in left field than in right field, which was where he played for most of 2012. Hopefully, this transition works well because as long as Ike Davis is healthy, Duda will not be playing his natural first base for the Mets.
CF Collin Cowgill
Despite his memorable Opening Day grand slam against the Padres, Collin Cowgill's first month as a Met was very poor.
Cowgill is batting just .160 with two home runs and eight RBI. He has also drawn just one walk in 51 plate appearances, which has led to a .176 OBP. Because of Cowgill's struggles at the plate, he has been playing mostly against left-handed pitching.
Cowgill's defense has been good overall, but he has had his bad moments as well in costly situations. What looked to be a big surprise for the Mets has turned into a disappointment, but hopefully, Cowgill will improve and play better over a full season than he did with the Diamondbacks and A's.
RF Marlon Byrd
After having the worst season of his career in 2012, veteran Marlon Byrd got off to a decent start this year, but he has cooled off more recently.
Unfortunately, the strikeouts that have plagued Byrd's career have still been occurring more often than desired. When he had been hitting better, it was one thing, but now that Byrd is struggling at the plate, the strikeouts become a lot more noticeable.
Byrd also has not been too patient at the plate, with just four walks. He is batting .232 with one home run and ten RBI. Time will tell if Byrd can really resurrect his career this season, but he will need to start getting on base more and striking out less for that to happen.
C Anthony Recker
Mets' backup catcher Anthony Recker's grade is more of a reflection of his lack of playing time than his actual season thus far. With John Buck's hot start, Recker has only appeared in six games this year, which has limited his opportunities.
Recker has had just one hit in 12 at-bats, but the one hit happened to be a two-RBI double. It's a bit early to really judge Recker because of his lack of playing time, but once he get the starts a little more often, the Mets and their fans will be able to determine how good he really is.
IF Justin Turner
As the Mets' utility infielder and top right-handed hitting pinch-hitter, Justin Turner has done very well in his role so far this season.
Turner has already filled in for the Mets at every infield position, which shows how versatile he is. At the plate, Turner has gotten off to a great start with a .368 average in 38 at-bats. He also has three doubles and four RBI. However, Turner is batting just .143 as a pinch-hitter, but that will hopefully improve with time.
CF Jordany Valdespin
Jordany Valdespin has yet to show as much excitement as he did in 2012, but as a backup or platoon outfielder, Valdespin has been doing well.
Valdespin is batting .255 and his OBP is only at .293, but he has seven RBI so far, including a walk-off grand slam, which hadn't occurred for the Mets since 1991. He has also added three stolen bases for a Mets team that desperately needs more steals.
One could argue that Valdespin could use more time in the minor leagues to develop better plate discipline, but with the Mets' outfield depth as thin as it is, the Mets just might be better off with Valdespin on the major league roster.
RF Mike Baxter
After losing the starting right field job to Marlon Byrd after spring training, Mike Baxter has gotten off to a very slow start to his 2013 season.
Baxter is batting just .200 with two doubles, one RBI and one stolen base so far. Because of his poor hitting, Baxter has been mostly pinch-hitting. However, if Byrd continues to struggle, this could give Baxter more opportunities in the coming weeks to redeem himself.
CF Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Like quite a few other Mets outfielders, Kirk Nieuwenhuis has underperformed this year and it even led to him being sent down to the minor leagues recently.
Nieuwenhuis was batting only .125 with one RBI before the demotion and missed most of spring training with a knee injury. As a result, he may not have gotten enough preparation in for the season because of the injury.
It's unknown as to when Nieuwenhuis will get recalled, but it will most likely occur once Nieuwenhuis feels more comfortable at the plate and is hopefully still healthy.
CF Juan Lagares
Juan Lagares was the Mets' call-up when they demoted Kirk Nieuwenhuis. The 24-year-old Lagares was brought up for additional outfield depth against left-handed pitching.
Lagares has appeared in just seven games in his very brief major league career, but was hitting very well in the minor leagues prior to his promotion. As a Met though, Lagares has only one hit in his first 12 at-bats. He has played well defensively in center field but has yet to break out at the plate.
Hopefully with time, Lagares will be able to show what he is capable of doing in order to stay on the major league roster.
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