By Gino Gallo,
Last years infield was not jaw dropping, however it was certainly above average and much better then we anticipated, despite Robinson Cano’s lack of production. So this upcoming season, (despite a couple of questions) we are looking at an infield that can possibly be the best in all of Major League Baseball. Don’t mistake my contextual data for blind optimism, if you really want to examine what this infield can do, all you need is to look at exactly how last year played out.
Scouts said that defensively Pete Alonso was “dangerous” at first base, mean while for those of us who watched 162 games we know that Alonso was not only not a “danger to himself” but actually a very good fielder. So that was one fallacy that was completely put to bed in one short season. Now let us take a look at the pieces that will make up what I think, will be one of the top 5 infields in baseball.
At first base we have a 53 homerun guy who finished in the top 10 in the MVP vote. Don’t expect a dip in his performance or a “sophomore slump.” When you can hit a ball completely off balance for 425 feet, it’s extremely hard to keep you down for too long. Although I do not expect 53 homeruns again, I do expect an amazing and more complete season. Look for young Alonso to excel defensively at first base, furthermore look for Pete to decrease slightly in homers but increase his batting average and on-base percentage. As far as first base for our beloved Mets goes this year, count on us having one of the top 3 first basemen in the MLB.
So that brings us to a potential problem. What exactly do we expect from Robinson Cano? The guy was relatively healthy for a while and barely produced at all last season. The question begs to be asked… What if Robinson Cano has a bounce back year? Is it completely out of the realm of possibility Cano goes for 20 homeruns, 80 runs batted in and a .290 average? I would say it’s less likely then him having another sub par year, but I certainly will not definitively say he cannot come up with a season like that. If he does, thi is not a top 5 infield in the MLB… It is the best infield in the Majors. But for now let’s assume Cano has an average year with the bat, we still have an excellent glove at second.
With the ToddFather gone, we are going to be in for an absolute treat. There will be no more, “Were does Mcneil play tonight?” Jeff will be solidified as our third baseman. In 2019 McNeil had the uncertainty of exactly where he was going to play everyday. This season Jeff will spend most of his time at the hot corner and will put up some wild numbers. McNeil is capable of slugging 25 homeruns and driving in 90 runs while hitting a cool .315.-.320. McNeil has also showed a good glove wherever he has been put. Call me crazy, but I’m glad McNeil wasn’t involved in a deal for Arenado with the Rockies or Lindor with Cleveland. Expect tremendous things from Jeff this year, an All-star appearance as well as a batting title race is in the cards for Jeff this year!
Finally we go to a guy who has caught a slight bit of flack. It had nothing to do with him not preforming well last season because our shortstop Amed Rosario was close to the top of the league in hits and steals. He hit close to .290 as a right hander and also improved in extra base hits as well as on-base percentage. He slowed down on the strikeouts and has improved incredibly since he first came up two seasons ago. Despite some trouble with the glove in the first half, Rosario’s defense evolved exceptionally in the second half. So what can we expect from Amed this year? Expect an outside shot at the All-Star game, expect in the low 20’s in homeruns and an increase in his already large number of RBI’s. Rosario is a year slower, however he is following a similar career path as Lindor himself. Don’t forget Rosario was perhaps the biggest prospect in baseball and has developed very nicely.
Dom Smith is probably the best backup first baseman in Major League baseball and could likely start on about 16 MLB teams. Lowrie will most likely not be healthy but if he is, having him as a backup would be awesome. If those two guys are our first options as backups that is an excellent display of depth.
So please, go ahead and worship the feet of guys who never lived up to their complete potential like Hoskins and Castro, or Swanson or anyone of these other “names” who haven’t accomplished anything except having a lot of potential. Maybe the Braves can compete when it comes to infields, but the other two teams cannot. And even Swanson and Camargo truly aren’t scary.
Infield grade (A)- Three players well above average at their positions. A question mark at second, although if he plays half as well as he could, he turns from question mark to huge plus. The two most talented official Backup infielders (Lowrie and Smith).
Also read: Your expectations should be high