Travis d’Arnaud has figured something out. The New York Mets catcher has been putting up video game numbers at Triple-A Las Vegas since his demotion a couple of weeks ago. In 48 at-bats, d’Arnaud is hitting .458. That’s his batting average. His on-base percentage is .500. That means he gets on base one out of every two times he’s at the plate. His slugging percentage is a cool .958, and he’s hit six home runs in 12 games. Whatever d’Arnaud has found, he needs to bring it back to New York.
The kind of numbers d’Arnaud is cranking out exceeds the advantage afforded by playing in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Sure, the high altitudes, hard infields, and straighter pitches help, but you still have to be pretty good to have a 1.458 OPS.
When he’s called back to the Mets – which should happen when they begin their two-game series versus the Oakland Athletics on June 24 – will he be able to continue his hot hitting? Reports out of Vegas indicate that d’Arnaud has moved his back foot closer to home plate so he can better reach outside pitches.D’Arnaud himself says he feels more confident. He thinks his struggles in New York were all mental – he had too many thoughts in his head during each at bat. That seems like a red flag.
If he goes 0-for-four in his first game back, do those thoughts come back? Does he continue to doubt himself? If his struggles were alleviated by mechanical adjustments, it would be easier to believe he could carry that success into the major leagues. It seems, however, that mental discipline is the key to d’Arnaud’s game. If he can carry some of his new-found confidence into the major leagues, and get off to a fast start, he should be well on his way. If not, he’ll have to learn how to fend off his mental demons.
The Mets need Travis d’Arnaud. It’s not like Taylor Teagarden and Anthony Recker provide a viable alternative at catcher. Juan Centeno is a good defensive catcher who’s not much of a hitter, and Kevin Plawecki, a good looking catching prospect, is still a year away. Now is d’Arnaud’s time to sink or swim. He’s proven he has nothing left to learn in the minor leagues. Now, it’s time to learn how to hit at the major league level.