The battle for playing time at third base for the Mets is one of the key things to watch as we get closer to the 2020 season.
Who is on third?
With the 2021 season less than three weeks away the New York Mets still have one big question to answer. Who is going to be playing third base for the majority of the time? With the suspension of Robinson Cano putting Jeff McNeil primarily at second base it leaves a hole at the hot corner. The two most likely candidates are Luis Guillorme and J.D. Davis . Complete opposites in profiles, the pick by manager Luis Rojas will be one of the more watched and second-guessed decisions of his sophomore season.
Luis Guillorme was drafted by the Mets in the tenth round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Coral Springs High School in Florida. Known as a defensive first shortstop with some of the best hands in the system, Guillorme started gaining recognition among scouts and fans with his highlight-reel defensive plays. Prior to his arrival in Queens, many knew him from his amazing bat catch from Spring Training 2017. Though he struggled at the plate during sporadic playing time after his debut in 2018 and the first half of the 2019 season, he started to turn a corner during the second half of 2019. His 2020 season showed that he was beginning to figure things out at the pro level as he finished the year with a .333/.426/.439 slash line and an OPS+ of 140. While he is never going to hit for much power he was able to hit six double in 57 at-bats all while playing stellar defense at whatever position he was asked to man.
J.D. Davis was acquired by the Mets in the 2019 offseason in a trade with the Houston Astros. Having spent two seasons in Houston struggling to get playing time Davis welcomed the ability to come to the Mets and find himself a role with his new team. Getting playing time at third base to start the 2019 season, Davis struggled mightily in the field to open the season and saw his playing time there take a hit because of it. When Davis was in the lineup however he showed the offensive potential that Mets management saw in him when they made the trade. Davis would go on to hit 22 home runs in 2019 in 410 at-bats while finishing with a .307/.369/.527 line and a 137 OPS+. Davis was not able to repeat his strong campaign in 2020 and finished with a much more pedestrian .247/.371/.389 and only six home runs. One thing that should also be looked at when making a decision on where to play Davis is that he is a much better hitter when he plays the outfield than third base over his career. Despite having almost the same number of at-bats, his average is almost 100 points higher and he has more than double the number of home runs. Perhaps it’s just coincidence or maybe his defensive struggles at third cause him to lose focus at the plate. While 300 at-bats at each position is not a huge number it is definitely something to keep an eye on.
For me, it’s about the D:
Deciding who should get the majority of the opportunities at third base will have a large effect on the Mets both in the lineup and in the field. In my opinion, the edge goes to Guillorme. With the defensive deficiency, the Mets have put forth the past few seasons it would be a welcomed change for the team to go with the best defensive lineup possible. The surrounding lineup will be able to cover if Guillorme struggles at the plate, yet the same may not be able to be said about the pitching staff if Davis struggles in the field.