Batting leadoff and starting in centerfield, Alejandro De Aza had an impressive night at the plate. He blasted a two-run homerun off Yankee’s starter Masahiro Tanaka in the third inning that gave the Mets an early lead over their crosstown rivals.
While De Aza disappointed for most of the season, he has quietly started to heat up. Since July 1, he’s batting .324 with eight walks and two home runs in 45 plate appearances.
“The more at-bats that I get, the more chances I get to play, it’s great and I feel more comfortable at the plate,” De Aza said. (Adam Rubin, ESPN NY)
When the Mets signed De Aza to a one year $5.75 million dollar contract during the winter, he was originally slated to platoon in centerfield with Juan Lagares. But those plans abruptly changed when the Mets brought back Yoenis Cespedes in January.
Regulated to the bench, De Aza received little playing time and struggled mightily, batting .158 with a .447 OPS in 103 plate appearances during the first three months of the season.
His poor performance caused many fans to sour on him, but he now has a second chance to redeem himself in Queens.
His two best seasons came in 2012 and 2013 when he was starting centerfielder for the White Sox. He slashed .271/.335/.408 during those seasons with an average of 13 homeruns and 23 steals per year.
For his career, the nine year veteran is a .264 hitter with a .729 OPS. He also has a Ultimate Zone Rating of 0.2 in over 300 games in centerfield.
Given the Mets’ crowded outfield, it’s hard to say exactly what his role will be down the stretch. But it looks like he could end up being valuable piece, especially if his hot streak continues.