How this Met could transform the lineup

April 2nd, 2024

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.

NEW YORK -- Need another example of how Spring Training statistics plainly, flatly, simply do not matter? Look no further than .

Marte was ... not great this spring. He hit .159 over 16 games and grounded into three double plays. He didn’t homer, and he stole merely one base. Coming off an age-34 season that ended with a lengthy stay on the injured list, Marte entered camp hoping to prove he could still be a healthy, effective player. At that mission, he at least partially failed.

And yet since the regular-season lights flicked on, Marte has been a different beast. With a homer on Opening Day and at least one hit in every game since, Marte has been one of the team’s few productive hitters over the first week of the season. He was the only Mets player to collect multiple barrels -- loosely defined as balls put in play with an ideal exit velocity and launch angle -- over the club’s season-opening series against the Brewers.

Overall, Marte is batting .357 with a 1.081 OPS. Through four games, he has more hits than Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo combined.

“It feels good to be healthy after all the injuries and all the problems I had,” Marte said during the Brewers series. “I felt good with all the hard work I put in during the offseason.”

A healthy Marte can potentially transform this Mets lineup from the middling unit it was last season to something greater -- much as he did in 2022. As New York’s regular two-hole hitter that season, Marte hit .292/.347/.468 with 16 homers and 18 steals while making the National League All-Star team. But he took a significant step back in 2023, batting .248/.301/.324 with five homers and 24 steals. Toward the middle of that year, team officials began hinting that all wasn’t right with Marte’s groin, which he had surgically repaired the previous offseason. But it wasn’t until the second half that Marte acknowledged the extent of his injury.

He rested over the winter and reported to Spring Training as a purportedly healthy player, but with many factors working against him -- namely his age and injury history. At 35, Marte has only had one full, healthy season in the big leagues, and that was back in 2015. When a player with that sort of profile goes through the type of season Marte did in '23, it can be easy to question what he has left to give.

And while four solid games aren’t nearly enough to change the narrative, it’s clear that Marte is at least capable of his old sort of production. If he can extrapolate it over five or six months, Marte has the power to increase the Mets’ ceiling.

“He’s a healthy player, and I think that’s a really good start,” president of baseball operations David Stearns said. “I’m not going to put any arbitrary expectations on what we’re going to get this year, but I’m really happy he’s healthy. I know he feels good. He’s in a confident place right now.”