This story was excerpted from Anthony DiComo’s Mets Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.
The Mets, who were already ramping up, were set to be without their most productive hitter for at least a good portion of the month of June. They will have no choice but to figure out a way to move on without him.
That doesn’t mean finding another player who beats his teammates at Alonso’s price – somewhat absurd at 22 in 62 games prior to his tenure at Ale. But that means receiving more from Marc Ventus and Marc Kanha, and the two players are likely to receive the bulk of their first basemen in Alonso’s absence.
Vientos started at third base on Thursday, but went 0-for-5 with three hits. After weeks of no playing time since being called up to the major league, Vientos now has a chance to prove their long-term affiliation with the Majors.
“He played some first bases,” said manager Buck Showalter. “It’s not something he’s not familiar with. Just trying to get him out there. Obviously he’ll play today and tomorrow, and hopefully he can move on and give us a little bit of an offensive assist.”
According to Showalter, Canha is probably the Mets’ best defensive player after Alonso. But (despite two solid games last week against the Phillies) Canha has struggled at the plate all season, with a . 712 OPS in 54 games. Mets officials have also been wary of using Canha every day since he signed with the team prior to last season.
That should result in plenty of playing time for Vientos, who had 47 hits, 13 homers, 37 RBI and slashed 0.333/.416/.688 earlier this year at Triple-A Syracuse. As a third baseman, Ventus started 43 times for Syracuse and played the position sparingly in the Majors. Thursday was his first start there.
More than defensive proficiency, however, the Mets need the offensive pop. In limited league action, Vientos is 6-for-37 (. 162) with one home run, four RBIs and one walk with 12 strikeouts, which takes some of the sparkle out of the excitement surrounding his call-up. Against righties, where he has success in the minors, his slash is .167/.200/.292, while .154/.143/.154 against lefties.
Vientos struggles on the board, but the data suggests he is bound to bounce back. His expected batting average is .262, his expected slugging percentage is .491 and his actual slugging percentage is .243. The huge jump in his crushing comes from his ability to knock out reptiles, but it hasn’t translated so far this year.
This is another chance for Vientos to fill a role in the Mets’ lineup whether or not Alonso is around – although his hitting prowess is needed by the team. The Connecticut native just has to take a chance.
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