Travis d’Arnaud, like most of the New York Mets‘ offense, has struggled immensely eight games into the season, but the Mets organization must remain patient with d’Arnaud as he continues to adjust to major league pitching.
When the Mets traded R.A. Dickey, the 2012 Cy Young award winner, to the Toronto Blue Jays after the 2012 season, d’Arnaud was the prized catching prospect that the Mets got in return. Mets fans were ecstatic. The Mets were finally going to have a catcher to fill the 10-year void that was left after Mike Piazza was released.
But for d’Arnaud, his Mets career hasn’t gotten off to the start he had hoped. Three weeks into his Triple-A stint with the Las Vegas 51s, he suffered a non-displaced fracture in his foot. He was out for the next four months, but then he finally got his opportunity. On Aug. 17, he was called up to the Mets to play the last month and a half of the season. As expected with most young hitters, he struggled at the plate, hitting .202 in 31 games.
This season hasn’t started much better for d’Arnaud. He is batting .130 in seven games, and he went hitless in his first 16 at-bats of the year. It’s not as if he’s striking out at an alarming rate or hitting weak pop-ups or groundouts. No, he is hitting the ball hard, but he is running into a bit of bad luck. According to FanGraphs, his line drive percentage is 17.4 percent, just 2.6 percent below the league average. Once he gets a few of those line drives to drop, his confidence will grow and he will be a solid hitter.
But in the broad scheme of things, he is only 25 years old with less than 50 games of MLB experience. The Mets need to give this kid some time to develop as a hitter.
But while his offense struggles, his defense behind the plate is advanced for his age. He looks like a savvy veteran back there, especially the way he frames pitches. The Mets’ pitchers benefit a few times each night from his ability to “fool” the umpire.
Also, when prized pitching prospects Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard finally get the call up the majors, d’Arnaud needs to be there to catch them. That’s the Mets’ future, and d’Arnaud, although he is still a rookie, will provide comfort and a sense of familiarity to help those two adapt.
As the old saying goes, “patience is a virtue.” d’Arnaud is a special talent with loads of potential. The Mets cannot afford pull the plug on him too soon.