It’s not often that the New York Mets are faced with a good problem given their history of bad luck and run-ins with Murphy’s Law (whatever can go wrong, will).
But they were faced with just that heading into the 2020 season as a deep offensive roster was going to force Luis Rojas’ hand in juggling several core players to properly ensure they get enough plate appearances.
Ramping up to the original March 26 Opening Day, the Mets had to find a way to keep JD Davis’ bat — which usually comes as a third baseman or left fielder — in the lineup in a corner outfield spot with Jeff McNeil on the verge of being the every-day man at the hot corner. Add Yoenis Cespedes’ potential return to the equation and Davis’ bat that slashed .307/.369/.527 with 22 home runs and 57 RBI last year was in jeopardy of not getting nearly as many at-bats as he did in 2019.
Meanwhile, Brandon Nimmo was slated to take over at center field to keep Michael Conforto safe in right — but Jake Marisnick (center field) and Dominic Smith (left field, first base) would also be pressed to get enough at-bats.
Now, though, Rojas’ problem isn’t all that big of an issue.
As a part of MLB’s return to play in late July, the designated hitter is coming to the National League, allowing teams to add another established bat to their lineup rather than having the pitcher hit.
It’s great news for the Mets as they’ll be able to preserve the oft-injured Cespedes by keeping him solely as a designated hitter, allowing Davis to become the go-to left fielder for the 60-game 2020 schedule.
Smith would continue to be the Mets’ first bat off the bench and a direct backup to Davis in left while Marisnick would be used as a late-inning defensive replacement for Nimmo in center field.
With that, the Mets’ suddenly have one of the more lethal-looking lineups in baseball — one that could make a lot of noise in an abbreviated season and could be one of the best collection of bats in franchise history (with respect to the 1986 or 1999 teams):
Potential Mets 2020 lineup
1) Jeff McNeil- 3B
2019 stats: .318/.384/.531, 23 HR, 75 RBI
2) Pete Alonso- 1B
2019 stats: .260/.358/.583, 53 HR, 120 RBI
3) Michael Conforto- RF
2019 stats: .257/.363/.494, 33 HR, 92 RBI
4) Yoenis Cespedes- DH
2019 stats: DNP (injury)
2017 stats (81 games): .292/.352/.540, 17 HR, 42 RBI
5) Wilson Ramos- C
2019 stats: .288/.351/.416, 14 HR, 73 RBI
6) Robinson Cano- 2B
2019 stats: .256/.307/.428, 13 HR, 39 RBI
7) JD Davis- LF
2019 stats: .307/.369/.527, 22 HR, 57 RBI
8) Amed Rosario- SS
2019 stats: .287/.323/.432, 15 HR, 72 RBI
9) Brandon Nimmo- CF
2019 stats (69 games): .221/.375/.407, 8 HR, 29 RBI
Dominic Smith- 1B/LF
2019 stats (89 games): .282/.355/.525, 11 HR, 25 RBI