Over the last two seasons, the New York Mets have endured quite the rollercoaster ride of success. Following a 2022 regular season that saw the Mets finish with a 101-61 record, securing over 100 wins for the first time since 1988, 2023 fared a lot differently for the Mets, who came away with just 75 wins and missed the playoffs.
Though there were a handful of aspects that played into the plummeting downfall of the Mets last season, relying on an aging veteran cast proved to be unrealistic with the World Series goals the Mets have. As all franchises encounter at some point in time, rebuilding your team with a younger talent pool that can sustain a high level of success is inevitable, and the Mets are experiencing that reality firsthand, particularly within their infield.
Last season, three Mets rookie infielders made their debuts and illustrated promising signs of potential for this team to lean on. From Brett Baty, Mark Vientos, and Ronny Mauricio, the Mets have a lot of great young talent in their infield, and this is not to mention that they also have 21-year-old shortstop prospect Luisangel Acuña, Ronald Acuña Jr.’s younger brother. But with Francisco Lindor likely to hold down the shortstop position and Pete Alonso first base, that leaves second and third as the only other two spots to fill.
Without further ado, here’s our take on which of these young talents we think the Mets should start at third and second base in the upcoming 2024 season.
The Mets Have Young Talent Climbing the Ladder
Third Base – Mark Vientos
The two third basemen the Mets have on the roster are Vientos and Baty. Seeing the Mets are unlikely to pursue a third baseman over free agency, filling this position will come down to one of these two youngsters, and of the two, we think Vientos has the best shot at taking the starting job.
Vientos, who played a total of 65 games last season, didn’t boast great numbers but still highlighted plenty of potential and pop offensively. In a total of 233 plate appearances, Vientos finished his 2023 rookie campaign with 9 HRs, 22 RBIs, and hit for a .211 average to go with a .253 OBP. Though his season stat line isn’t a glamorous one, Vientos did end it on a strong note. Over September and October, Vientos had six of his nine home runs and 11 of his 22 RBIs while posting a .230 batting average and a .280 OBP.
Baty, on the other hand, played in 108 games last season only to barely surpass the production Vientos mustered but in nearly twice as many games played. In 389 plate appearances, Baty finished with 9 HRs, 34 RBIs, while finishing with a .212 batting average and a .275 OBP. Following a promising month of June, where he finished with a .257 average, 19 hits, and 6 RBIs, Baty’s offensive production went downhill from that point forth, just managing to hit the ‘Mendoza Line’ over the months of July, August, September, and October.
In short, the Mets not only need more efficiency and productivity offensively from their lineup after they finished 25th last season in batting average (.238). But they also need someone to lock down the hot corner by keeping errors at bay. And Baty just so happened to have 10 last season (third on the team) to Vientos’ four. The door is not closed on Baty. But come the 2024 regular season, the Mets should start Vientos at third.
Second Base – Ronny Mauricio
Last season, rookie Ronny Mauricio logged in 26 games and, frankly, didn’t need more to convince the Mets coaching staff and fans alike just how talented and bright he really is. Over those 26 games, Mauricio had 108 plate appearances, finishing with a .248 batting average, 2 HRs, 9 RBIs, and 7 stolen bases. On top of his offensive versatility, Mauricio is also an excellent infielder, and he played mostly from second base last season, possessing some valuable experience alongside Lindor.
Luisangel Acuña, on the other hand, has yet to play in the majors and will likely be called up only if multiple infielders were to get injured. Not only does Acuña play shortstop, which will be occupied by Lindor until he leaves, but the Mets also did sign a couple of solid infielders over free agency in Joey Wendle and Zack Short. So even if multiple infielders did get injured, he still might not receive his chance until later in the summer.
With Luis Guillorme now gone and Jeff McNeil more suited for the outfield, it’s time the Mets give Mauricio the same chance catcher Francisco Alvarez had last season. Young prospects with this kind of talent need the reps in order to prosper. Yes, Short and Wendle are solid, but they aren’t everyday starter material like Mauricio. And at only 22 years old, Mauricio already has all the tools to be a star on this team and should be the starting second baseman in 2024.