As Major League Baseball’s proposal for a 2020 start passed with ownership and begins to make its way through the players union, the sporting world and fans alike have been given a real, concrete glimpse of a schedule and gameplay.
While the overarching headline of the proposal is an early-July Opening Day, a postseason expansion, exclusive play against divisional and geographical rivals, and a universal designated hitter only ensures the 2020 season will have an unprecedented feel to it.
The latter tweak could especially bode well for the Mets, whose offense has the depth to thrive with the full-time DH.
One of the largest questions surrounding the team heading into a once-regularly-scheduled 2020 season was how first-year manager Luis Rojas would be able to juggle the abundance of viable bats.
The emergence of Jeff McNeil as an All-Star and one of the best natural hitters in the National League last season seemingly won him the every-day third basemen job.
Naturally a second baseman, the move along the infield is facilitated by the sizable contract of Robinson Cano, who struggled during his first season with the Mets.
McNeil’s shift from second to third practically eliminated the prospect of JD Davis getting regular at-bats from the hot corner following a breakout 2019 season in which he slashed .307/.369/.527 with 22 home runs — a prospect already realized as the 27-year-old saw a bulk of his playing time in left field.
An unaffected 2020 season would have seen Davis slotted in as the every-day left fielder until slugger Yoenis Cespedes returned to the fold after recovering from a right ankle fracture.
All the while, Dominic Smith — who developed into a valuable secondary bat — would stand to lose more plate appearances. The former top prospect of the organization has been forced to become a utility outfielder and go-to bat off the bench after being usurped from his normal position at first base after the arrival of Pete Alonso.
Now with a universal DH, the Mets can get Cespedes back into the lineup without increasing the risk of injury by playing him in the outfield; a sizable boost when considering the 34-year-old is a 30-plus-home-run candidate.
It allows Davis to stay in left field every day while Smith remains a backup candidate for the corner-outfield and first-base spots:
Projected July Opening Day Mets lineup
- Brandon Nimmo (CF)
- Jeff McNeil (3B)
- Pete Alonso (1B)
- Yoenis Cespedes (DH)
- Michael Conforto (RF)
- Wilson Ramos (C)
- Robinson Cano (2B)
- JD Davis (LF)
- Amed Rosario (SS)