New York Mets Player Evaluations: Pitcher Rick Porcello

New York Mets, Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello fulfilled a childhood dream when he signed with the New York Mets before the 2020 season. When the season finally started, he could not improve from the worst season of his career in 2019. Porcello finished with the highest ERA of his career and only recorded one win on the season.

Getting off to a slow start was the theme of Porcello’s rough season. Through his first six starts, Porcello allowed 40 hits in 28 innings, resulting in a 6.43 ERA. On the season, Porcello struggled in the first three innings of the game, where he had a 6.94 ERA, and batters hit .363 against him.

In Porcello’s final six starts, the struggles were not as prevalent. The batting average against him lowered to .272, and had a 4.94 ERA over 31 innings. Porcello put up his best start of the season with 10 strikeouts over seven innings against the Atlanta Braves in this stretch.

Porcello went back to throwing his sinker 43% of the time compared to 26% during the 2019 season. The biggest issue for Porcello was his inability to work inside to both sides of the plate consistently. Since Porcello relies on contact for his success, he has to keep hitters off-balance and uncomfortable. Too often, hitters controlled the outside part of the plate, which caused the high batting averages against him.

Numbers Can Deceive

Despite the high ERA, Porcello had a few factors going with and against him. The Mets defense is a nightmare for any contact pitcher, and it certainly hurt Porcello more than it helped him. Porcello’s home run rate was lower than it was during his Cy Young season in 2016. He also had the lowest exit velocity against him since the stat began being recorded in 2015.

A lot of these stats show that Porcello was better than the ERA dictated. The soft contact percentage was by far the highest at 25.8%, and the hard-hit rate at 29.5% was lower than it was in his Cy Young season. The most telling stats of his season are his 3.33 FIP and 76 FIP-.

Return to Flushing?

Overall, Porcello went 1-7 with a 5.64 ERA in 59 innings with 54 strikeouts in 12 starts. Despite the common stats working against him, Porcello’s sabermetrics and deeper stats show there could still be value in the veteran right-hander. The Mets are looking to revamp their rotation, which leaves serious doubt about him returning. If the Mets sure up their defense, Porcello could be a good value at the back of the rotation of a long reliever in the bullpen.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Sinker: 40 (55), The sinker was a pitch Porcello relied on heavily, but it was very hit or miss. Opposing hitters batted .324 against it.

Slider: 45 (50), Thrown 29% of the time, and had a 21.9% whiff rate.

Changeup: 55 (55), Porcello threw significantly more to left-handed hitters, 101 to lefties compared to 23 to righties.

4-Seam Fastball: 45 (45), Rarely used, but batters only hit .211 against it and had good horizontal movement.

Curveball: 30 (35), Porcello never quite got a good feel of his curve. Batters hit .417 against it, and its spin rate from 2810 to 2588.

Command: 45 (60), Porcello’s control was pinpoint when avoiding walks but not so much when avoiding barrels.

Overall: 40 (50), It was a rough year for Porcello, but I expect him to bounce back to league average wherever he lands in 2021.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Pitcher Jacob deGrom

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

What more can we say about Jacob deGrom? The New York Mets ace put up another Cy Young caliber season in the shortened 2020 season. Unfortunately, unlike the last two years, deGrom is not the front runner for the Cy Young as he will likely finish second in the race.

deGrom cruised through his first nine starts of the season. He had a 1.67 ERA through 54 innings and held opposing hitters to a .173 batting average. deGrom also led the was in strikeouts with 79 through those first nine outings. deGrom battled through a couple of small injuries to continue his dominance of the league.

The last three starts of deGrom’s season did not match the same dominance. deGrom allowed eight runs in 14 innings, which inflated his ERA to 2.38, and he finished the season at that mark. The September 16 start against the Phillies cost him the most. deGrom only made it through two innings and allowed three runs before leaving with an injury.

In a full season, that start would be a forgotten memory, but it became the forefront of his Cy Young candidacy.

Absolute Dominance

Whether or not deGrom wins the award, there is no denying how great he was. One of the amazing components of his season was the increase in fastball velocity. The four-seamer jumped from an average velocity of 96.9 in 2019 to 98.6 in 2020. deGrom reached back to get to 101 a couple of times this season as well. Hitters already struggled with the fastball from deGrom, but in 2020 batters .186 against the pitch deGrom threw 45% of the time.

Of course, the stuff alone makes deGrom an amazing pitcher, but it’s the deception that makes him elite. All of his pitches come from the same arm slot and looks the same. deGrom’s fastball, changeup, and slider at speeds far above average, combining all of those factors make deGrom the best in the game. He also operates at a level of perfection that draws back to the likes of Tom Seaver.

Tough to Beat

Overall, the numbers were tremendous, going 4-2 with a 2.38 ERA in 68 innings, leading the NL with 104 strikeouts and a 13.8 K/9. deGrom also had his lowest H/9 of his career at 6.2 and his third straight season of allowing less than one home run per nine innings. To support his case of a Cy Young, 8 of 12 starts for deGrom came against playoff teams. 6 of 11 Bauer’s starts came against playoff teams, but all were eliminated during the wild card round.

As a starting pitcher heading into his age-33 season, it is amazing to look at him and see him continuing to get better. He is just reaching his peak as an ace, and the Mets need to take advantage of deGrom’s elite years. Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Clayton Kershaw all got their rings, and in 2021 it is time for deGrom to get his.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Fastball: 80 (80), Consistently at 98-100 and is close to unhittable.

Slider: 80 (80), Comes in at 91-93 and has an extremely late break. Usually only thrown to the left-handed side of the plate.

Changeup: 75 (75), At 90-92, it moves just like a sinker.

Curveball: 55 (55), Only threw 30 of them but is a good change of pace in the mid-80s.

Command: 80 (80), Truly a master of his craft.

Endurance: 80 (80), As good at pitch 110 as he is during pitch 10.

Overall: 80 (80), The best pitcher in baseball.

 

 

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Outfielder Juan Lagares

The final New York Mets position player evaluation comes with veteran Juan Lagares. After spending his first seven big league seasons with the Mets, he moved on to the San Diego Padres before the 2020 season. Lagares was released during summer camp and returned to where things started eight days later.

Lagares returned to the Mets when Jake Marisnick was dealing with nagging hamstring issues. He was thought to be another good defensive replacement late in games. When the Mets traded for Billy Hamilton, there was not a need for Lagares on the roster. The only games Lagares appeared in came on August 25/26, and it resulted in four innings in center field, without an at-bat.

Surprising Release

There was no space for Lagares on the roster, and the Mets released him four days later. Lagares’ career has always been limited by his inability to hit consistently or stay healthy. His defense speaks for itself, as he has one Gold Glove to his name. The rest of his career will likely consist of minor league deals if he remains in affiliated ball.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: N/A (25)

Power: N/A (20)

Run: 60 (55)

Arm: 55 (50)

Field: 55 (55)

Overall: N/A (30)

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Infielder Eduardo Nunez

The New York Mets brought Eduardo Nunez back to the state where his career started, but it was not a successful return. Nunez only played in four innings over two games and lost his season to a knee injury.

Nunez looked like a promising addition to the Mets infield depth. Though he has not been a stellar defender in his career, he can play multiple infield and outfield positions. Nunez was also coming off two solid seasons before struggling during the 2019 season with the Boston Red Sox.

Gone Too Soon

Nunez made his Mets debut in the second game of the season as a pinch-runner. He successfully stole a base then remained in the game as a designated hitter. Nunez recorded his first hit with the Mets the following night in their 14-1 loss. Unfortunately, it came with pain as he stumbled after legging out the infield single and fell to the grass. Nunez ended up spraining his left knee, and the pain lingered long enough to land him on the 45-day injured list, ending his season.

As Nunez heads into free agency again, he will likely serve the same role again. As he heads into his age-34, his best years are behind him but still serves his worth as a utility infielder. With Luis Guillorme and Andres Gimenez stepping up in his absence, two games are all Nunez will play with the Mets.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 50 (45)

Power: 30 (25)

Run: 55 (50)

Arm: 45 (40)

Fielding: 45 (45)

Overall: 45 (40)

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Catcher Rene Rivera

Veteran catcher Rene Rivera joined the New York Mets for his fourth stint in Flushing. He was third on the catcher depth chart, but an unfortunate injury ended his season after two games. Rivera needed surgery to remove a bone spur from his left elbow, causing the Mets to dive deep in their catching depth.

Rivera picked up his only hit of the season in a blowout loss to the Braves. Three days later, Rivera got his only start of the season with Jacob deGrom on the mound. Rivera struck out in all three of his at-bats, and deGrom showed some frustration with him. deGrom threw a couple of wild pitches and asked Rivera what happened. deGrom’s frustration was with himself after making a couple of mistakes.

Another Campaign in NY?

As Rivera head into his age-37 season, he likely has to latch on to minor league deals to play in 2021. Defensively, he is still a terrific defensive catcher with a strong arm. It is unlikely he returns to the Mets due to the franchise trying to revamp their catching core after parting with two other veteran catchers.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 40 (25).

Power: 20 (30).

Run: 20 (20), The Mets might have the slowest catching core in baseball.

Arm: 65 (65).

Fielding: 55 (55).

Overall: 30 (25). Hope Rivera gets a chance to play in the big leagues again.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Outfielder Ryan Cordell

The very athletic Ryan Cordell came to the New York Mets in 2020 after two seasons with the Chicago White Sox. Cordell played in 97 games in 2019 but saw minimal action during his first season in Flushing. The Mets released him at the end of June before resigning him just a couple of days later. They ended up waiving him on October 26 to make room for Robel Garcia on the 40-man roster.

Cordell had all the athleticism anyone could look for in a baseball player but his offense trails behind. He came into the season as a .205 career hitter but was a tremendous defensive player. It was why the Mets decided to sign him as a free agent for Spring Training originally.

Defensive Specialist

Cordell only started two of the five games he played in and went 1-for-8 on the season. He struck out in three at-bats, all coming on breaking balls. It was Cordell’s Achilles heel in 2019 as he only hit .194 against the breaking stuff. Cordell’s only hit of the season came on the fastball, where six of his seven homers were against in 2019.

His defense and speed are no joke. Cordell played a good defensive outfield in his limited chances and had a sprint speed in the top 5% in baseball. Whether or not his future as a Met continues, he is a good depth option for outfield defense.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 20 (20), .202 career hitter.

Power: 20 (25), .328 career slugging percentage.

Run: 60 (60), 4.19 sec average home to first in 2019.

Arm: 50 (50).

Defense: 60 (60).

Overall: 20 (25), Comparable to Billy Hamilton just with less speed and more power.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Catcher Ali Sanchez

The New York Mets were in desperate need of catching depth when they called upon Ali Sanchez as the last option before acquiring Robinson Chirinos. Sanchez struggled mightily and showed he still needed some more work before becoming a capable backup catcher at the big league level.

Sanchez made his MLB debut during a blowout loss to the Washington Nationals on August 10 but did not see action again until the end of the month. He returned on August 25 and had a real opportunity to secure a backup role. Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera were both out due to their respective injuries, and Wilson Ramos was the only big-league caliber catcher on the roster.

Rookie Mistakes

In his first major league start, Jon Berti made a mockery of Sanchez behind the plate. Sanchez fumbled the ball on a throw to second, and then a sleepy defense allowed a delayed steal of third. Finally, Berti stole home after Sanchez lobbed the ball back to the pitcher. It was a rough showing on defense and a passed ball and two wild pitches in five games.

As Sanchez rose through the minors, his bat lagged behind his good defense. He only had one hit in nine at-bats and looked a step behind at the plate. The one facet of his game that showed promise was his pitch framing. Sanchez had a 51.4% strike rate and succeeded the most on pitches on the zone’s left and right edges. On the inside corner to righties, he was at 69.6%, and on the outside, he had a 68.8% strike rate.

Sanchez’s short tenure ended on September 1, shortly after the Mets acquired Chirinos from the Texas Rangers. With Tomas Nido and Patrick Mazieka joining Sanchez as the only catchers on the current 40-man roster, he falls into three or four on the catching depth chart, assuming the Mets bring in another catcher.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 20 (25), .259 career hitter in the minors.

Power: 20 (20), 11 homers, and a .331 slugging percentage over six minor league seasons.

Run: 30 (30), Average speed for a catcher.

Arm: 55 (60)

Defense: 60 (65), Improvement to his blocking could move him into an elite defender.

Overall: 30 (35), Sanchez is heading into his age-24 season and has the tools to contribute at the big-league level. Just a matter of when he can put it all together.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Second Baseman Brian Dozier

The New York Mets thought they added a solid depth piece when they brought in 2020 World Series champion Brian Dozier. The veteran second baseman was fresh off six consecutive 20 home runs seasons and remained a legitimate power threat. Unfortunately, Dozier struggled to find consistency at the plate along with consistent playing time and was released a month after he was signed.

Dozier was a member of the San Diego Padres from Spring Training through his release in the middle of summer camp. After 11 days of toying with the idea of playing in the 2020 campaign, he decided to join the Mets right before the season.

Lack of Playing Time

The surprising emergence of Andres Gimenez and Luis Guillorme severely limited Dozier’s opportunities to play against right-handed pitching. All but two of Dozier’s plate appearances came against left-handed pitchers, but even then, it was hard to slot him in the lineup.

Dozier only started four of seven games over a two week period and only recorded two hits. Both hits were singles, and it was clear that he was struggling with transitioning into a bench role. It was the first time Dozier would not play in at least three-quarters of the season since his rookie season back in 2012. He also netted -2 defensive runs saved in the small sample size he played at second base.

The Mets released Dozier on August 23, and no other team picked him up for the rest of the season. It was shocking considering his past track record and his career .441 slugging percentage. As a worst-case scenario, Dozier will likely get spring training invites for 2021. There should still be plenty of value in his bat, despite the low batting average that comes with it.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 20 (30), .244 career hitter should bounce back.

Power: 20 (45), May not bounce back to hit prime years, but still good for 15-20.

Run: 40 (35), Used to be a stolen base threat but not so much at this point.

Arm: 40 (40).

Field: 40 (40).

Overall: 20 (40), Could still be a useful player on a good team. Just needs consistent at-bats.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Outfielder Guillermo Heredia

After a stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the New York Mets claimed Guillermo Heredia off waivers to join the team for the last month of the 2020 season. Despite not being known for his power, Heredia provided some along with his good defense in center field.

Heredia joined the Mets because they were in need of outfield depth after cutting Billy Hamilton. He spent most of his time in summer camp but joined the big league roster during the final week of the season. During his time in Pittsburgh, he only batted .188/.278/.188 in 18 plate appearances.

Small Power Surge

Heredia upped his average and also showed some surprising power with the Mets. His slash line was .235/.278/.588 with two home runs in the same 18 plate appearances. Using some small sample size numbers he had his highest line drive rate along with a 22-degree average launch angle which could have contributed to the limited power numbers.

Defensively, Heredia did a solid job defensively for both teams that he played for. He had two outs above average and two defensive runs saved. Heredia has always ranked as a good defensive center fielder and should continue to show value there in 2021.

In my opinion, Heredia deserves an invite to Spring Training for the 2021 season. I liked what I saw in the handful of games with the Mets and could serve as a cheap/undervalued option as a fourth or fifth outfielder. If he does not get the opportunity with the Mets, he will certainly get it somewhere else.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 25 (35), Should fall in the .230-.240 range during 2021.

Power: 55 (30), Most in a full season was 6.

Run: 55 (50), Good footspeed both on the bases on defense.

Arm: 45 (45)

Field: 60 (60), Solid and reliable defender.

Overall: 45 (35), Could be a useful bench player but has to provide a little more power to be a weapon.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Catcher Tomas Nido

New York Mets catcher Tomas Nido was the backup to Wilson Ramos when summer camp ended but only received 24 at-bats on the season. A bout with COVID-19 ended a strong start to his season that never received a proper finish due to lingering issues after.

Nido’s playing time was sparse as he only appeared in seven games (six starts) over the three weeks he was healthy. He took advantage of the playing time, recording a hit in all but his final game of the season. The memorable game for Nido came against the Washington Nationals. Nido recorded two home runs and six RBIs, joining an elite group of Mets catchers to pull off the feat.

On defense, it was clear that he was the better catcher defensively. Nido only threw out one baserunner in six tries, but his work framing the ball continued to shine. In the limited sample size, he a 48.5% strike rate, it was slightly below his normal rate, but there was nothing that proved it was declining.

Battle With COVID-19

Nido was the only Met to get COVID-19 during the regular season, and it ended his season. He did not play in a single game after August 18 due to the virus and the related complications. While he did not contract the virus the entire rest of the season, it was not enough for him to get back to rejoining the Mets.

Overall, he was far better than expected with the bat during the games he played in. He slashed .292/.346/.583 with two home runs and six runs batted in. While most of that production came in one game, it still was enough for the Mets to depend on him as their backup catcher in 2021. Even if the offense is not productive, the pitching staff loves throwing to him. Should they miss out on J.T. Realmuto or James McCann, they will still have a reliable defensive catcher in Nido.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 60 (25), Still hitting under .200 for his career.

Power: 80 (30), Think there is enough power to get into double digits in a full season, but that is his max.

Run: 20 (20), Probably the fastest catcher on the roster, but that is not saying much.

Arm: 55 (55), Very effective when the pitchers help him by holding on runners.

Field: 60 (60), Great pitch framer, and pitch caller.

Overall: 65 (35), Small sample size hero.