With a little over a month left until Opening Day, John Dewan of ACTA Sports recently ranked his projections for the best and worst middle defense for the 2017 season based on defensive runs saved.
Last on that list, was the New York Mets middle infield. Dewan projected the Mets middle infielders to have a MLB worst -19 defensive runs saved.
Catcher Travis d’Arnaud is an above average pitch framer, in fact according to Dewan he has the tenth most Strike Zone Runs Saved in the league despite all the missed time due to injury. However, his subpar arm leaves him projected for a DRS of -5.
Cabrera’s only issue is that as he is getting into the older stages of his career his range is really lacking. Last year he had a -9.4 RngR (range runs), which was the worst he’s posted at short since 2013. Dewan actually predicts that Cabrera will be the worst defensive shortstop in baseball (-9 DRS) during the 2017 season according to DRS (5th worst in 2016 at -7 DRS).
On the flip side, Walker actually showed off the best range of his career with a 6.8 RngR (first time in positive) and also had a career high 9.3 UZR. Although, Walker has graded out as a negative defender at second base in five of his seven big league seasons (2013, 2016 being the exceptions). Dewan predicts a -1 DRS for the veteran Walker.
Lastly, in centerfield Dewan lists Curtis Granderson at a -4 DRS. Yes, on paper Granderson is the starter in center, however Juan Lagares will get some starts. Lagares is a defensive specialist, he won a Gold Glove award in center in 2014 and had 8 defensive runs saved in only 325.2 innings of center field work in 2016.
The group of Granderson, Cabrera, Walker and d’Arnaud combined for -10 DRS in 2016, but that was with Curtis spending a majority of his time in right field.
I don’t think the Mets middle defense will be this bad. I expect to see improvements from d’Arnaud as he’s been working with catching guru Glenn Sherlock. Walker and Cabrera were solid enough up the middle, making up for their lack of range with sure-hands. Granderson will be an adventure in center, but Lagares will pick up his slack on his off days and should come in for defensive late in games.