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Travis d'Arnaud not historically bad ... yet
Although Noah Syndergaard displays great promise, catcher Travis d'Arnaud was the key piece for the Mets in the trade that sent R.A. Dickey to Toronto after the 2012 season.
Baseball America ranked d'Arnaud the No. 36 prospect in the game before the 2011 season, the No. 17 prospect before the 2012 season and the No. 23 prospect before the 2013 season.
In other words, the experts believed he was destined to do great things.
Which makes his 0-for-15 start to the 2014 season and overall .492 on-base plus slugging percentage in 129 major-league plate appearances so troubling.
On a team full of early underachievers, d'Arnaud is getting a lot of attention.
There's good and bad news for the 25-year-old backstop.
From 1994-2013, 43 non-pitchers have begun a season in at least an 0-for-15 hole. Eugenio Velez was the worst, going 0-for-37 for the 2011 Dodgers. He ended up never getting a hit that season, or ever again in the majors.
Of those 43, 11 (including Velez) ended their season with an 0-fer. Only 10 players managed a season batting average of .200 or greater, and a few actually posted respectable final averages: Termel Sledge hit .269 in 2004; Jose Valentin hit .271 in 2006; David Murphy hit .269 in 2009; Roger Bernadina hit .250 in 2013.
The combined final average for that group of 43 was .195.
There is, however, hope for d'Arnaud.
Plenty of MLB catchers have begun great careers with shoddy starts. In his first 129 plate appearances, d'Arnaud is hitting .175 with a .264 on-base percentage, .228 slugging percentage and one home run.
Here's how some other notable names did during their first 129 plate appearances:
Jorge Posada hit .221 with a .301 OBP, .292 SLG and one home run.
Mike Piazza hit .247 with a .289 OBP, .380 SLG and three home runs.
Matt Wieters hit .244 with a .302 OBP, .378 SLG and three home runs.
Yadier Molina batted .236 with a .309 OBP, .271 SLG and no home runs.
The story of Molina, in fact, is a good example for those who may be tempted to lose patience with d'Arnaud. Molina had a .238 average and 16 total home runs during his first three seasons, including a .216 average and six home runs in 2006 when the Cardinals won the World Series. He blossomed after that, batting .297 with a .353 OBP and 73 home runs from 2007-2013, adding five All-Star appearances, six Gold Gloves, two more World Series appearances and another World title.
And d'Arnaud certainly has a while to go before he breaks any Mets records of futility. In team history, 11 players including d'Arnaud have begun a season at least 0-for-15. Several have done so recently, including Valentin's 0-for-15 in 2006 and Ike Davis' 0-for-16 in 2012. The all-time record is Phil Linz's 0-for-25 in 1968. Linz ended up hitting .209 in 78 games that season, his last in the majors.
So d'Arnaud has a few more games left before he gets close to infamy. And a lot longer than that before we can truly judge what kind of player he is -- or will turn out to be.