The Mets are having one of those seasons in which just about everything goes right, the kind of season that happens, oh, once every generation or so.
So it’s no surprise that, after they called up their first big-time prospect of the year, Brett Baty, a lefty hitter with a sweet swing and super high ranking, he hit a home run on his very first at-bat at the archrival Braves’ home park.
“Beautiful swing … we got something here folks,” Keith Hernandez said on SNY.
The Mets have made a lot of right calls, from their pricey free-agent foray that included the starter Wednesday night, the Hall-of-Fame-bound Max Scherzer, to the hiring of old friend Buck Showalter as manager to a trade deadline at which they refused to part with any of their very top prospects. That included Baty, their No. 2-ranked prospect and No. 18 in all of baseball.
When they summoned the 22-year-old Baty from Triple-A Syracuse, however, they had little choice. Both of their big league third basemen, Eduardo Escobar and Luis Guillorme, have hit the injured list in a week of pain. So out of necessity, here came Baty, who dominated the Eastern League for Double-A Binghamton before his call-up a week ago to Syracuse.
Twenty-two family members and friends trekked from his hometown of Austin, Texas, (according to SNY) to witness Baty turn around a curveball from veteran right-hander Jake Odorizzi and send it just over the right-field fence. The two-run home run expanded an early lead in the Mets’ nerve-racking 9-7 victory.
The ascension of Baty after very little Triple-A time was something of a surprise, but his bat surprises no one now. Scouts who went to view Baty back at Lake Travis High School, famously the high school of Baker Mayfield, liked what they saw so much they overlooked his advanced age of 19 ½. The Mets, never ageists (see Showalter), wound up picking him 12th overall in 2019.
“I went in skeptical due to his age and left as a believer in the player, person and hitter,” one American League scout said. “I tip my cap to the Mets.”
There’s a lot of that going around lately. The Mets are having one of those seasons in which their calls range only from prescient to perfect. While the decision to hire Showalter is now referred to as a “no-brainer,” there was at least heavy discussion, and perhaps even a little dissension. At this point, it’ll be a surprise if Showalter doesn’t win his record fourth Manager of the Year award. (Dusty Baker may do the same thing over in that other league.)
In free agency, nobody’s record is perfect, but the Mets went four-for-four. That never happens.
One of those free agents, Starling Marte, who hit the first homer off Odorizzi in the Mets’ big start to the night and hit another homer later, is as advertised, an outstanding two-way player and worthy All-Star. And Scherzer, well, he’s just as they saw across the field in the other dugout with the Nationals for most of the past seven seasons.
He’s a competitor without parallel — though he’s human, sometimes. This time he went 6 ¹/₃ innings before losing control in the seventh, walking a couple, making an errant throw to first and giving way to Adam Ottavino, who allowed a three-run homer to recent Braves pickup Robbie Grossman to pull Atlanta within one. The win was the 199th of Scherzer’s career, and with 99 career losses, he has a chance to become the sixth pitcher to record his 200th win before his 100th defeat (he’d join Pedro Martinez, Whitey Ford, Lefty Grove, Juan Marichal and Grover Cleveland Alexander.)
In the first two games in Atlanta, the Mets hit a rare blip in the schedule. They were outscored 18-1, and they needed a win Wednesday as much as they have in a while. They have lost three in a row just twice this magical season, and they survived a scare Wednesday before adding three runs late — two on Braves killer Pete Alonso’s line single.
Jacob deGrom, the Mets’ co-ace, has a chance to even the series, and unbelievably, keep the Mets’ record perfect for not losing a series in division all year.
Scherzer got quick help via Mets bats. Francisco Lindor, easily living up to his contract in year two of the $341 million deal, followed Marte’s first dinger with a homer of his own.
Baty timed Odorizzi’s curve to join Mike Jacobs, Kaz Matsui, Mike Fitzgerald and Benny Ayala as the only Mets to homer on their first at-bat. Later, Baty scalded one 113 mph off tough lefty Tyler Matzek, but Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson turned it into an out.
“He can hit. Smooth swing and occasional pull power,” a National League scout said.
“Good-looking extra-base swing,” the AL scout added.
At first viewing, the kid looks better than good. With Escobar expected back in the not-too-distant future, this call-up may be little more than a cameo. But he should be fun to watch while he’s here.