HomeTeamsMetsIn Defense Of The Mets Defense

In Defense Of The Mets Defense

The Mets have made some memorably bad defensive plays already in 2024. Joey Wendle, D.J Steward, and Jeff McNeil (who tripped over second base in the 9th inning on Thursday, receiving a throw from the catcher on an attempted steal), have all made some awful defensive plays. Bad defensive plays that contribute to a loss are like slow dying charcoal briquettes. They hang around a lot longer than they should, or you want them to.

Good defensive plays don’t have as long a shelf life. But Mets fans will be talking about the two stellar defensive plays in Thursday’s comeback victory over the Cubs. Starling Marte’s cannon-like arm cut down two different runners at the plate in the 10th and 11th innings. Talk about getting it done at crunch time!

But it was more than Marte’s throws, it was the receptions and subsequent lunging tags, provided by catcher Omar Narvaez, that made the plays complete. Narvaez has not been able to throw out a runner stealing this season. Neither had Francisco Alvarez. Tomas Nido has the only ‘caught stealing’ for Mets catchers so far.

The two tags to end the two innings were terrific in different ways in delivering the third out of the extra inning both times. The first was a sweeping tag as the runner Christopher Morel tried to score on a sacrifice fly in the 10th. If that tag is not made the Mets probably lose since they did not score in their half of the 10th inning.

The second tag was a lunge back to the plate to tag out Nick Madrigal, who tried to score from second on a single through the hole on the right side in the 11th. The timing on both the plays was exquisite and the execution perfect. When the Mets came to bat in their half of the bottom of the 11th Narvaez was slated to bat third, and with his great plays in the field it would have been only fitting had he had an opportunity to win the game with a hit, but he never got the chance as Lindor hit a game-winning opposite field double to drive in the winning runs. Narvaez and his Mets teammates are just fine with the outcome.

In football the saying is ‘Defense Wins Championships’. In the NBA being a consistently good defensive team give the team a chance to win almost every night. But in baseball good defense while important, is not a primary factor for a winning team, but it is a given for the very best teams. Last season the two best defensive teams in baseball were the World Series combatants, the Texas Rangers, and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Mets POBO David Stearns has displayed that he values defense up the middle, and all over the field. That’s why Harrison Bader is a Met. Moving Brandon Nimmo to left field strengthens the corner outfield defense, and with Marte and Bader, the Mets have one of the better defensive outfields in the National League.

Pete Alonso is a serviceable defensive first baseman. He’s improved since his rookie year, and although he’s said he’d like to win a Gold Glove, he’s still a long way from achieving that goal. Brett Baty at third base has been a pleasant surprise on defense early this season. Francisco Lindor remains a Gold Glove caliber shortstop. Jeff McNeil is versatile and is a slightly above-average second baseman mainly held back by his below average range.

All the Met catchers are capable defenders despite their collective difficulties at throwing out base stealers. Joey Wendle has had a nightmarish season so far on defense, making both physical and mental errors which were not expected when he was signed. Tyrone Taylor is a good defensive outfielder far better than D.J. Stewart, who is no Daniel Vogelbach in the field, but every ball hit to Stewart has the possibility of being an adventure, and not in a good way.

The Mets defense won’t win them a championship or maybe even a playoff spot. But it appears that team defense won’t hold them back either.

Mark Kolier
Mark Kolierhttps://mlbreport.com/
Mark Kolier along with his son Gordon co-hosts a baseball podcast called ‘Almost Cooperstown’. He also has written baseball-related articles that can be accessed on Medium.com, Substack.com and now MLBReport.com.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here