Francisco Alvarez is Fitting In With The Mets

Francisco Alvarez is delivering at the plate and on the field.Photo byslgckgc, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

By Ray Kuhn

The New York Mets got things right with Francisco Alvarez. That is not something we can often say about the Mets, but there should be a qualifier in place. 

Actually, let us start things over. 

The New York Mets got things right with Francisco Alvarez in 2023 after making a panicked and desperate decision in 2022. 

Things were going great for the Mets for the majority of last season. They spent ample time in first place, and seemed like it would be just a matter of time before a division title was there. Instead, September took place, and New York seemed to stop hitting and simply went into a tailspin. 

We can spend way too much time dissecting all of the reasons why things went sideways, but ultimately, the fact remains, that if you want to win baseball games, you need to hit the ball. To that point, the Mets tried a desperate measure by promoting Alvarez to make his debut towards the end of September. 

Regardless of any outside situations, any time a player makes his major-league debut, pressure is going to be swirling and potentially paralyzing. Pressing is going to be natural here as you look to make your case for being a major-league player while also competing for playing time and not going back down to Triple-A. 

So, take that pressure, and then combine the pressure of being in a pennant race, multiply the two and amplify things by a thousand when you are look at as being the savior of the Mets’ lineup. 

With that said, it should not have been surprising to see Alvarez hit .167 in 14 plate appearances while striking out 28.6% of the time. That is the kind of introduction to MLB action that could sink a young player, but thankfully, Alvarez is better than that. 

The 21-year-old has shown through his minor-league career that he has a powerful bat and is a home run and RBI threat. Strikeouts will always be something to watch here, around 25% of the time, with similar batting average issues, but Alvarez does have command of the plate and there are no questions about his bat. 

As with all young catchers though, there have been some questions about his ability behind the plate. The good news though is that Alvarez has shown the dedication to work through that and gain the trust of his pitchers. 

While adjusting to major-league pitching is never going to be easy, most position players only have to worry about that. As a catcher, their offense ultimately comes in secondary to the defensive part of their game. With that being the area of focus for Alvarez, the Mets intended for Alvarez to spend the majority of 2023 in Triple-A to work on that. 

Ultimately, the injury to Omar Navarez changed things pretty quickly, and things were not looking great for the young catcher. In April, Alvarez only hit .194 in 12 games with one home run and three RBI. Criticism was swirling around Alvarez, but something more important was happening. 

Alvarez was working quite diligently on his craft behind the plate, improving as a catcher, and earning the praise of his pitching staff. While we want Alvarez to hit, that is always going to be more important. 

The good news, is that Alvarez didn’t take too long to find his groove, and entering action on Friday he was hitting .304 with five home runs and 11 RBI in 56 at-bats in May. More importantly, though, is what happened when the Mets began to get healthy at the catching position. 

Not only is Alvarez continuing to earn more playing time, but when there was the potential for him to be sent down to Triple-A, his pitching staff advocated for him to remain at the big-league level. 

Ultimately, the Mets made the correct decision, and I’m not sure that Alvarez is going anywhere. Not only are we seeing his potential at the plate, but the benefits of his hard work in other aspects of his game and coming to fruition. 

Ray Kuhn can be found writing on Fantrax and Fantasy Alarm after previously covering the Houston Astros as part of the FanSided network at Climbing Tal’s Hill. Reach him at @ray_kuhn_28 or as he is always interested in talking or writing about our great game.

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