Brett Baty should be the Mets’ opening-day third baseman


Wally Gobetz | Flickr

Jose Tirado

With spring training about halfway over, fans are already seeing battles for positions taking form. For the New York Mets, the battle for the opening-day third baseman is still open, and it should go to Brett Baty.

Baty, drafted in the first round of the 2019 draft by the Mets, has always been regarded as a great prospect with a plus-hitting tool: Baty has 60-grade hit and power tools, projecting him to be an above-average offensive player.

With his tools, Baty has little more to show at the minor league levels. Baty produced a monstrous .315/.410/.533 slash line between AA and AAA ball. Currently in spring training, in 24 at-bats he has a .458 average with a 1.177 OPS. His bat is major-league ready.

The biggest complaint when it comes to Baty’s game is his defense. In just 93 innings at third base in 2022, he produced a negative three Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), with zero outs above average (OAA). His defense has sparked discussion about whether or not his best position would be left field.

Baty’s defense would be a bigger issue if the person he would be replacing, Eduardo Escobar, wasn’t also a poor defender. In 2022, Escobar had a negative 11 DRS, with a negative six OAA. Baty has the potential to produce more offensively, while the defense is similar to what Escobar produced last season.

This grants Escobar to be a backup third baseman, second baseman and designated hitter. Having both Baty and Escobar in the line-up increases firepower. Escobar playing second base results in Jeff McNeil playing the outfield when Mark Canha or Starling Marte needs a day off.

Since the Mets have a high payroll, it makes sense to try to infuse some of their young prospects to balance the payroll as well as the age of the team. Players like Francisco Alvarez, Mark Vientos and Ronny Mauricio can make an impact for the 2023 Mets.

While Baty has his deficiencies, there is a clear path for him to start every day in 2023. This is the direction that the Mets should go in. While they have star talent all over the field, their prospects could make the biggest difference this season.