Coming into the 2015 season catcher Kevin Plawecki was a Top 100 prospect in baseball according to the three top outlets of Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com with his highest ranking being at No. 63.
Plawecki would make his major league debut in 2015 but had just a .576 OPS in 258 plate appearances though it came with impressive defense (ranked 9th out of 110 according to BP).
The 2016 season was more of the same for Plawecki with a .563 OPS in 151 plate appearances while grading out as the 16th best defensive catcher in baseball.
His struggles, combined with the injury history of Travis d’Arnaud, led GM Sandy Alderson to pick up veteran catcher Rene Rivera early in the 2016 season to help give the Mets some stability at the position.
Plawecki got himself another shot at catching duties in 2017 when the Mets lost Rivera on waivers to the Chicago Cubs in August. Kevin finally showed the Mets what he is capable of doing at the plate slashing .260/.364/.400 while striking out only 14.4% of the time and walking a career-high (minors and majors) 11.9%.
The 26-year-old credits his hitting success to getting back to a line drive approach that also keeps the ball off the ground as he told SNY, “The way my swing is built now, it allows my misses to be in the air rather than the ground.”
Plawecki had a career low 35.7% groundball rate in the minors last year and saw his MLB GB% of 55.6 in 2016 drop to 48.8 this past season. He also set a career-high in the majors last season with a 23.8% line drive rate and 29.8% hard hit rate.
New Mets hitting coach Pat Roessler (elevated from assistant) has been working with Plawecki and his catching mate Travis d’Arnaud this offseason to get there swings where they need to be says Kevin, “My swing is in a position where I can take more shots at hitting homers, but I have my most success when I’m thinking gap-to-gap.”
Both Plawecki and d’Arnaud had fine offensive months of September with them posting a .826 OPS and .999 OPS respectively. Their strong finish has Mets fans and Alderson optimistic about what they can do as a duo in 2018. Sandy talked about his pleasure with the progress of d’Arnaud last month after a 2017 season in which he set a career-high in home runs, RBIs and games played.
Despite the strong finish of the 2017 season for Plawecki and d’Arnuad there has been rumors of interest in veteran Jonathan Lucroy starting in early January according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com. While Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports has said numerous times that Lucroy would make sense for the Mets on a hopefuly bounce back deal.
Plawecki has heard the talk about whether or not the Mets should upgrade at catcher and thinks, “I think we’re very underestimated. But that comes with the territory of playing in New York. They underestimate a lot of things.”
Both Plawecki (106 wRC+) and d’Arnaud (91 wRC+) were better than league average offensively in 2017 (89 wRC+) and Travis was ranked 12th defensively among 110 catchers by BP.
The success from the duo last season has Plawecki confident going into the 2018 season, “I know we’re very confident with what we can do. At some point, it (angers) me a little bit, that they want people there. I see where they’re coming from, at times — I, personally, haven’t put up the numbers I’d like. But there’s been so much improvement.”