Brett Baty, shockingly announced his resignation due to controversial……

In one of the New York Mets’ final spring training games, third baseman Brett Baty failed to cleanly handle a chopper. With two outs, the ball ate up Baty and traveled into left field. On the play, the Yankees scored two runs.

Until that point Friday, Baty looked fine at third base during spring training. And it was merely one play during an exhibition game in which the result carried no significance.

officials have said recently about Baty’s defense: He’s going to have some ups and downs. And that’s just a nicer way of saying he will be inconsistent.

With the Mets’ camp over and the designated hitter spot addressed — at least when J.D. Martinez deems himself ready to join the team — the most interesting part of their lineup involves Baty.

What kind of production — offensively and defensively — will the Mets get at third base?

It’s a question for 2024 and beyond.

After Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns said on Sunday he would option Mark Vientos to Triple A, the starting job at third base officially belonged to Baty, the presumed frontrunner for the role all along.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean Baty will be at third base late in close games. Nor would it prevent others from getting occasional starts at third base. The Mets added Zack Short, a right-handed batter, as a utility player to a roster already featuring utility player Joey Wendle, a left-handed batter. Short and Wendle can both play multiple positions well, including third base.

In 2024, the Mets want to develop their young players like Baty, 24, but they also care about winning. That’s why they added a bevy of veterans on one- or two-year deals to a roster that already included an experienced core.

The Mets are giving Baty another shot after his rookie season last year went poorly, but it’s up to him to run with the job this time. He must prove he can hit at the major-league level and show that he can handle defensive duties at third base.

That play against the Yankees on Friday offered an opportunity for Baty to trust using one hand, which is something evaluators want to see him improve. Some defensive experts say that corner infielders need to expect to use one hand until the play obviously requires two; balls come off the bat too quickly otherwise. Reaction, instinct and footwork all matter. And for Baty, it’s a work in progress. But he said he is feeling more confident these days.

Baty’s confidence will be an important factor, people within the Mets said, especially after he struggled last season at the plate and on the field. Mets officials talked all offseason and in spring training about how improved the club’s defense is. By upgrading the outfield and bench, the front office has demonstrated defense matters to the group.

With Kodai Senga sidelined, the Mets’ rotation lacks a strikeout pitcher. The group features guys who rack up groundballs. Can the Mets be a good defensive team with Baty at third base? Officials say so. Rival evaluators say there’s a decent chance.

But according to FanGraphs’ all-encompassing defensive metric, the Mets rated as the worst defensive team at third base, where Baty saw the bulk of the action. He has shown improvement and everyone within the Mets raves about how hard he works, but it’s understandable why the club gave itself some insurance with their roster decision.

“That’s part of it,” Stearns said Sunday. “And I think Brett is taking steps forward defensively. I think he had really one rough moment here recently defensively, but otherwise has played a very, very solid third base throughout spring. And I would expect that to continue.

“He’s not going to be perfect over there. We told him he’s not going to be perfect over there. And that’s fine. When we’re not perfect over there, it’s ‘let’s move on to the next play and be fine over there.’ But having Zack and Joey on the roster as defensive-oriented players helps us in a variety of places.”

Defense at third base matters more without extreme shifts, but many within the game still view it as an offensive position.

So, Baty needs to hit, too.

Throughout his minor-league career, Baty feasted off pitchers with a sweet swing and thunderous bat. He produced gaudy traditional numbers with underlying data like huge exit velocities to back it up. Things went sideways, though, in the majors, where Baty posted just a .598 OPS in 398 plate appearances.

However, evaluators in spring training said they were encouraged by Baty’s at-bats. In addition to working on making his top hand stronger with his swing, Baty wanted to do a better job of “dictating at-bats,” he said, and it appears he did just that. From the perspective of evaluators, Baty looked more purposeful at the plate, swinging at more attractive pitches in the strike zone, which led to him consistently hitting balls harder. Baty said he was unafraid of taking chances and swinging and missing.


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