Wednesday, May 29, 2024
AnalysisMLBNational LeagueNew York MetsNL East

Travis d’Arnaud’s time as a Met deserves more respect.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 29: Jose Reyes #7 of the New York Mets celebrates with Travis d’Arnaud #18 after hitting a solo home run in the top of the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on September 29, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

2020 was a disappointing year for Mets fans, including myself. We entered the year with high expectations, and we were confident they would get a playoff spot after the MLB expanded the number of playoff teams to 16. Unfortunately, the season did not go as planned and Mets fans watched their team’s pitching and defense run them into the ground.

The Mets finished with a 43% winning percentage, putting them 4th in the division. To add insult to injury, the rebuilding Marlins made the playoffs, and the Braves won the division in large part because of former Met Travis d’Arnaud’s success.

Travis d’arnaud thrived last season with the Braves, putting up a 145 wRC+ and finishing with a WARP (Baseball Prospectus Wins Above Replacement) of 1, 6th out of all catchers. d’Arnaud also excelled during the postseason with a .29 WPA (Win Probability Added) and a 129 wRC+. Back in Queens, Mets catcher, Wilson Ramos struggled as he put up an 89 wRC+ and a -0.2 WARP.

Late in the year, the Mets tried to bring in Robinson Chirinos but he put up a 66 wRC+ in 22 plate appearances. Many Mets fans lamented how d’Arnaud performed well after leaving New York, however, I think d’Arnaud’s time as a Met deserves more respect than it gets.

Mets fans had high expectations for Travis d’Arnaud when he first came up. He was a highly-touted prospect and was the main return in a trade that sent former Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays. In 2013, ranked d’Arnaud the sixth-highest prospect in baseball, and Baseball Prospectus ranked him 16th. He didn’t meet those lofty expectations, at least not in a Mets uniform, and he is remembered by many Mets fans as an injury-prone disappointment. While d’Arnaud may have failed to live up to his expectations as a Met, I think he should be remembered as a good catcher who performed well when healthy.

When Travis d’arnaud first came up in 2013, he struggled badly with a 60 wRC+ in 112 plate appearances, but he was a good defensive catcher and his 3.7 FRAA was good enough to earn him a .6 WARP. In 2014, he bounced back and had a pretty good year as he posted a 102 wRC+ with good defense for 2.6 WARP, which was 12th in the league among catchers despite him missing time with a concussion and only playing 108 games. That year d’Arnaud tied for 7th place in Rookie of the Year with Jeurys Familia and Kyle Hendricks.

In 2015, he suffered a broken finger and a sprained elbow, but he still had a great year posting a 130 wRC+ with a 12.9 FRAA. d’Arnaud’s 3.4 WARP was 7th among all catchers in the MLB, despite only playing 67 games. If we extrapolate the performance of every catcher with over 60 plate appearances to 150 games, d’Arnaud would have led all catchers with a 7.6 WARP. While he struggled to get on base in the 2015 playoffs, he still hit three home runs, one of which went off of the Home Run Apple.

By the start of the 2016 season, d’Arnaud had been a good player in 2 out of his 2 full seasons and had even given the Mets a memorable postseason moment. However, In 2016, he struggled with a 75 wRC+ in 75 games due in part to a rotator cuff strain. In 2017, he played well hitting for a 92 wRC+ in 112 games with a bruised right wrist. Despite the subpar offense, his defense still helped him play to a 1.5 WARP in 2016 and a 2.7 WARP in 2017. d’Arnaud then lost essentially his whole 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery and was released after 25 poor plate appearances in 2019.

After his release, d’Arnaud was picked up by the Dodgers and then quickly sent to the Rays. Releasing d’Arnaud has proven to be a mistake, especially because good catchers are hard to come by and the Mets haven’t had a lot of success outside of d’Arnaud. This offseason, hoping to end their search for a catcher, the Mets signed James McCann to a $40.6 million dollar contract. Hopefully, McCann will be a good catcher for the Mets but, as of now, d’Arnaud’s time behind the plate remains the best of any Met catcher since Citi Field opened.

Patrick Bowe

I am a Mets fan who takes an analytical approach to baseball and evaluating players. I prefer to focus on small details instead of broad generalizations.

One thought on “Travis d’Arnaud’s time as a Met deserves more respect.

  • James Cordingley

    Fascinating observations, Patrick!

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