Catcher Travis d’Arnaud is finally showing the kind of talent that made him trade bait for two Cy Young award winners. The word “finally” seems a little harsh considering he hasn’t even played a full season in the major leagues yet, but for an impatient New York fanbase, his first 257 plate appearances had some labeling him a bust.
However, the New York Mets catcher got a mulligan, and he knocked it straight down the middle of the fairway.
D’Arnaud hit .202/.286/.263 in 112 plate appearances last year. He and hitting coach Dave Hudgens felt he was hooking his wrists to much on his recoil, which made him late on pitches and made him uppercut. In trying to eliminate that hitch, d’Arnaud started to think too much. He said he had a hundred thoughts in his head when he came to bat. When he hit .180 through the first 39 games of this year, the Mets decided to send him to triple-A Las Vegas to figure things out.
It didn’t take him long. D’Arnaud hit immediately in triple-A, and ended up with a downright silly .436/.475/.909 slash line with six homers in 15 games. Las Vegas manager Wally Backman and his coaching staff said they moved his back foot closer to home plate in an effort to better reach outside pitches. D’Arnaud said he just relaxed, and got rid of all of those swing thoughts.
Whatever it was, the Mets were convinced. D’Arnaud brought his productivity back with him to the major leagues, and has turned into the hitter scouts and talent evaluators thought he could be.
In 101 plate appearances since his return on June 24, d’Arnaud is hitting .302/.337/.521 with four home runs and 16 RBIs. He’s only failed to reach base four times in the 25 games since his recall. Overall, he’s hitting .232/.298/.379, although his OPS+ is 93, which approaches the “average” number of 100. That said, all of his numbers are trending upward. Last night, he had his best game of the season, smashing two doubles and a three-run homer in four at bats.
When asked about his hitting approach now, d’Arnaud said he’s “keeping it simple and having fun.” Over these past few weeks, he sure has been fun to watch.