Let’s talk about the infield!
I’m not going to go into every rookie DL replacement, because who has time for that?? I’m just going to talk about the guys that I thought had a huge impact on the 2017 season. I’m not going talk about David Wright in this post…I will do a whole separate post on The Captain, don’t worry. I’m also going to go position-by-position, because I like my readers and I think you all appreciate organization as much as I do 🙂
Let’s get started with a man who really changed the team this year, James Loney. We really lucked out with James Loney. When Duda went down, I got really nervous about the first base situation. Don’t get me wrong, I really love Flores at first, but having him at first really left a void at third with the lack of David Wright on the field, ya know? Flores can’t play for both of them! When I heard we got Loney, I was a little skeptical. He was coming from the Minor Leagues in the Rays organization so I didn’t really know what to expect. I definitely didn’t expect him to have the impact that he had though. What a great surprise that was! All of his stats said that he wasn’t a power hitter and blah blah blah, but I guess someone forgot to tell him that! He was getting key hits in big spots and had the hottest bat in the line up for a little bit! He started hitting home runs and was spectacular defensively! He also added some veteran experience to the clubhouse, so James Loney really saved our butts this season. We wouldn’t have made it very far if it wasn’t for him, especially earlier in the season. It’s not looking like there will be a spot for him on the 2017 roster, but you never know. I definitely wouldn’t hate if James Loney was a Met next year!
Oh boy, it’s time to discuss my favorite second baseman in the whole world…Neil Walker. I can’t hide my Neil bias either, and I’m not even sorry about it. I absolutely love Neil Walker. I’m still grieving his season-ending injury… Neil was nothing short of amazing at second for the Mets this season. That run he went on towards the end of his season (before he told us that he was like paralyzed and playing on NUMB TOES?????) was incredible. He broke out of a slump in the biggest way possible. I know that players in slumps always say that it only takes one swing to get themselves out of it, but this was the first time I’ve seen it come to fruition. He went from slump to hottest bat in the line up in a matter of one game! Watching that was incredible. Baseball is so funny. But really, if Neil isn’t a Met next year, I will have to take myself to Flushing and have a less-than-calm conversation with Sandy and the rest of the front office. You are not going to find a better infield combo than Walker and Cabrera. They worked so cohesively together and made literally every single play. I couldn’t believe how well they worked together! Neil was literally playing with numb toes and a crippling back injury and still made every play AND kept himself the hottest bat in the line up. AMAZING. TJ Rivera did a great job filling in at second, and I really do like TJ (which you will soon find out). But Neil is my second baseman every time. He brought that (rare) veteran presence to the clubhouse and stepped up into that leadership position when Wright went down. That’s hard to do when you’re the new guy on the team! He’s too good for the Mets to let him go. I hope they realize that!! (Especially if Cespedes walks…they need Walker if Cespedes walks…but that’s a whole separate post to look forward too…) To sum up, I love Neil Walker, you love Neil Walker, the Mets better love Neil Walker too.
Okay, let’s talk about the greatness that is TJ Rivera. I really, really, really like TJ Rivera. He’s going to be a big part of the line up in the future, and I really think he is going to go very gar in his major league career. He was thrown right into the middle of a really intense playoff push. Little rookie TJ Rivera didn’t know what he signed up for! TJ could not have performed better in the tough spot he was put into to. I was so impressed with him. When he hit that home run off Melancon in that game against the Nationals, I knew he was going to be something special. He had a pretty hot bat in the middle of the line up for the Mets, which was dire after losing Neil Walker. DIRE. The Mets thought they would play Flores at second when Neil went down. But then Terry killed Wilmer at the plate…. and Wilmer went down too. That was two really big blows for the Mets, and TJ kind of made it feel not as big, if that makes sense. He was great on defense, he was getting key hits in big spots, and really proved himself to the coaching staff along with the rest of New York. You now know how I feel about Walker, but if Walker isn’t a Met next year (kill me), I might be okay with TJ playing second every day. Don’t tell anyone I said that. TJ isn’t Neil Walker. He’s not a veteran, he’s not the defender OR hitter that Neil is, believe me I know. But TJ playing second isn’t the worst thing in the world. (I’m sorry Neil I still love you).
Lets talk about the MVP! I can not tell you how appreciative I am for Asdrubal Cabrera. I wrote a whole post on Caberea where I explain my love for him and what he meant to the team this yea, but there’s no such thing as talking too much about Cabrera, so let’s do it again! Cabrera was the most important man in the Mets clubhouse this year. Don’t try to argue Cespedes or the pitchers or Reyes or blah bah blah, you’re wrong, I’m sorry. Cabrera was the most important man in the Mets clubhouse this year. He was incredible defensively, he was amazing offensively, and with just one swing of the bat, he saved our whole season. There is not postseason Mets if Cabby doesn’t hit that walk-off-three-run-homer in the bottom of the 11th of that game against the Phillies. He saved the whole season with that home run. Imagine trying to comeback from an 11th inning loss against the Phillies??? There’s no coming back from that. Also, he only made 7 errors all seaosn??? 7 errors. That’s amazing. He was playing on one leg for almost the entire second half of the season. He went on the DL for 3 weeks with that injury, came back, and had the hottest bat in the line up until the very last game. ALL ON ONE LEG. You could see on his face how much pain he was in. It was hard to watch. But, he literally would not let Terry take him out. Terry told him after the game that he hit that walk off that he was going to sit and rest tomorrow, and he replied “I don’t think that’s going to happen”. HE IS INCREDIBLE. I am so so so so thankful that we have him again for next season. He is really amazing, and I’m so happy he is a Met.
The third baseman that had the most impact on the team this year was undeniably Jose Reyes. Wright played a couple of games at third, so did Wilmer, I know. But when I look back on the 2017 season and think of who was at third, my mind is going to go to Reyes. I wrote a whole post on Reyes, where I discussed his importance to the team, along with the controversy that came with resigning him, so we don’t have to talk about any of that negative stuff here, right? The second Reyes stepped foot in New York, the entire dynamic of the team changed-on and off the field. Having Reyes lead off gave the Mets a serious upper hand on the opposing team. It almost was like if Reyes gets on base, we’re going to score here. He is so fast, so he just does his base stealing thing and manufactures runs for us, and there’s no denying that without Reyes, we weren’t going to make it very far. Not only was he great offensively, he was such a pleasant surprise defensively! The Mets just threw Reyes at third base with like 2 weeks of minor league training under his belt. let me tell you, I was not expecting him to perform the way he did. He was really great at third. He was everything you could have asked out of a person who is a natural short stop. There were some growing pains, and a couple of errors here and there, I know. But overall, Reyes played a great third base, manufactured about 6 thousand runs, and gave that clubhouse energy that they so desperately needed during a season plagued with injuries.
Wilmer is a position all of his own! He’s played every position of the infield this year, so he doesn’t get put under a specific category. I have so much love for this crying little utility player. SO. MUCH. LOVE. I think he is too good to be a utility player, but I’m just a 19 year old girl with a blog, so what do I know!???!!?!?!? What I do know is that Wilmer Flores is a force to be reckoned with. He completely destroyed left handed pitching this year. He was a very dangerous bat in the Mets line up. VERY dangerous. He was always a lefty killer, but since he got so much more playing time this year, he really came into his own at the plate. He spent a lot of time over at third when Wright went down, and he really did well over there. I think its amazing that Wilmer can play any position that you need him to, and he can do it as well as he does! I dare the Mets to ever put me through the trauma of thinking Wilmer has been traded ever again. I DARE THEM. There is no “Mets” without Wilmer Flores. I could write about Flores for the rest of my life, but I’ll save us both some time and leave you with this- I’d rather die than see a Mets team Wilmer-less. He loves the Mets and he loves New York and he’s so good at what he does and I JUST LOVE WILMER.