As Spring Training begins, one of the biggest stories will be on the Mets’ 23-year-old third baseman Brett Baty. Baty is fighting for a spot on the Mets Opening Day roster after a short stint in the majors in 2022. Baty played eleven games, hitting just .184 before a thumb injury ended his season early. He earned his call-up due to injuries to Luis Guillorme and Eduardo Escobar just days after moving up to AAA. Baty tore up the minors but struggled in his limited appearance in the majors before embarking upon a crucial winter.
Baty spent time this winter working with former five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop Troy Tulowitzki on his defense. When talking to the Athletic about Baty, Tulowitzki said, “He needs to get better over there. But some people need to get better because they aren’t athletic enough or don’t have arm strength. He’s got all the tools. He just needs some reps.” The Athletic’s Keith Law wrote, “Baty is big for [a] third baseman but a solid athlete who’s worked hard on his defense, which is more than just playable there.”
As the Mets began games this spring, Baty has started red hot, getting two hits, including a double in a Mets intra-squad game on February 24. The next day, Baty got the Mets’ first official hit of Spring Training, hitting a two-run homer against the Houston Astros. He also walked and hit a single to finish off his afternoon. Baty’s hot start to Spring Training could make things interesting as the Mets plan their roster to take up north next month.
Baty’s main competition for the third base job is with Eduardo Escobar, a veteran switch-hitter who struggled for the most part last year until a huge September carried his numbers to slightly above league average. Another possibility is a platoon at third, with Escobar hitting against lefties and Baty against righties. Escobar performed much better against left-handers in 2022, and Baty, a lefty, has excelled against righties in his time in the minors. Another big part of this discussion is the World Baseball Classic, which Escobar will participate in for Venezuela. Baty will be sticking around at Mets camp and will get many more at-bats there while Escobar is away.
Brett Baty has little left to prove, but with a loaded Mets roster, he will still have to earn his spot going into Opening Day. As Keith Law said, “The Mets should give [Baty] 500 at-bats this year because there’s nothing left for him to learn in the minor leagues.”