Travis d’Arnaud has emerged as one of the best hitting catchers in the game
If only Travis d’Arnaud could have been healthy for the entire year. As well as he’s performed in limited duty, it would be fascinating to see what he could have done with a full 140-game slate in 2015.
Much like a lot of his teammates, d’Arnaud has been on an incredible run himself since returning from his second stint on the disabled list. With the Mets down 3-1 in the sixth-inning on Monday night, d’Arnaud hit a long, two-run home run to center field to tie the game at three apiece, setting his club up to go ahead in the following inning thanks to an RBI double from David Wright.
Of course, as so many Mets have done during this incredible 31-11 stretch since July 31, d’Arnaud credited Juan Uribe for working out a double to right field to setup the opportunity to tie the game.
“You’ve got to give credit to Juan, though, he got a two-out hit right there to get me a chance,” d’Arnaud said.
With his 2-for-4, two RBI performance on Monday, d’Arnaud now has a .975 OPS since returning from the disabled list, the highest among all catchers in Major League Baseball.
“We know he’s got big time power, and his confidence right now offensively is off the charts,” Terry Collins said. “There’s nobody he walks up there against that he doesn’t think he can hit. He’s dangerous.”
In 52 games in 2015, the 26-year-old catcher has hit .300/.369/.568 with 13 doubles, 12 home runs and 40 RBI.
Four of his home runs have tied a game, three have given the Mets the lead – he’s hitting .314 with runners in scoring position and the Mets are 35-17 when he’s played in 2015.
“We never give up. We’re never out of it and we try to win every single game,” D’Arnaud said at his locker on Monday night. “I show up every day with a huge smile.”
Of course, those 52 games have been spread out over the team’s first 144 games of the season. The problem for d’Arnaud is, of course, he hasn’t played enough.
But when he’s been healthy, d’Arnaud is not only one of the most formidable hitting catchers in the game, but potentially one of the most formidable hitters in the game, period.
Since June 24, 2014 – the day he was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas – d’Arnaud has 22 home runs and 72 RBI in 490 plate appearances.
And assuming d’Arnaud were to have played in 140 games in 2015, he would be pacing for 35 doubles, 32 home runs and 107 RBI.
But alas, the greatest challenge in d’Arnaud’s career continues to lie in his ability to remain healthy and playing on a regular basis.
For now, the Mets aren’t planning an exit strategy to move d’Arnaud out from behind the plate. But his bat is clearly so valuable, yet he’s shown to be accident prone while catching that it may be worth their while to at least consider migrating him to another position at some point.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. D’Arnaud has never played another position, and as Todd Hundley, Mike Piazza and many others over the course of history have shown, it’s not as simple as putting on a first baseman’s or outfielder’s glove and going out there.
And moving d’Arnaud out from behind the plate – a premium position – could devalue his bat as well.
But that doesn’t mean it might not eventually be a wise choice to make. And with work and patience, d’Arnaud could indeed excel at another position down the line.
But for now, he’s the Mets catcher, and one of the best offensive catchers in baseball at that.