Mets-Padres Position-by-Position 2022 Wild Card Series Breakdown

Alonso and Lindor versus Machado and Soto. deGrom and Scherzer versus Darvish and Snell.

There will be no shortage of star power this weekend in the Wild Card Series between the Mets and Padres at Citi Field, with Game 1 of the best-of-three set starting Friday at 8pm ET / 5pm PT.

The Mets were forced into the Wild Card Series by an even stronger Braves team that defeated them at the very end of the regular season and claimed the National League East title, despite both teams winning 101 games. The Padres, no strangers to elite division competition, finished second after the Dodgers’ 111 wins in the NL West, sending them to New York for the first round of the postseason. Let’s break down all the matchups for the series.

Here’s an overview of the Mets-Padres Wild Card Series by position.

Neither team is particularly strong in the catcher position. For the Mets, Tomás Nido was a good defensive catcher, with +5 framing runs and a fast average pop time of 1.96 seconds; he just doesn’t provide many attacks (.239 batting average, .600 OPS, three home runs). James McCann would take care of the attack, but he has done even less, hitting .195 with a .538 OPS. The Padres have a trio of catches in Austin Nola, Luis Campusano and Jorge Alfaro, none of which were great defensively or offensively. But between the three, they probably put a little more juice on the plate than the masons. Maybe MLB No. 1 Francisco Álvarez will make the post-season roster for New York and wave the catcher battle to the Mets, but for now a small advantage for the Padres.

The Padres go with a combination of Brandon Drury and Wil Myers on first base; they could use Josh Bell there too. None of them are Pete Alonso. Alonso, the rock of the Mets lineup, hit 40 home runs and led the Major Leagues with 131 RBI’s. He started 133 games at first base and 150 on the cleanup spot. He posted a 146 OPS+. On the other hand, Myers had a 108 OPS+ this season, Drury had a 109 OPS+ after the Padres traded for him, and Bell has collapsed massively, with a 75 OPS+ for San Diego.

The Mets ideally have the MLB batting champion on second base in Jeff McNeil. McNeil, who batted .326 in the regular season, also gets some outfield starts, but Tyler Naquin can man right field against the Padres’ rightful starters, and if Starling Marte and/or Darin Ruf are healthy and on the Wild Card Series play roster to take on Blake Snell, McNeil could remain in second place in all series. If not, Luis Guillorme has been able for New York all year, especially defensively. Jake Cronenworth (17 home runs, 88 RBI’s) was an All-Star for the second year in a row in 2022, but if he is up against McNeil at second base, it will go to McNeil.

Sorry, Eduardo Escobar. Manny Machado is a big lead for the Padres here – perhaps their biggest at any position (but read on). Machado is one of the top NL MVP candidates, along with Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado of the Cardinals, hitting .296 with 32 home runs, 102 RBIs and +8 outs above average in defense. His 7.4 fWAR led the National League and was behind only Aaron Judge and Shohei Ohtani in all of MLB. Escobar hit 20 home runs for the Mets this season, but he’s nowhere near Machado’s level.

Francisco Lindor vs. Fernando Tatis Jr. would have been one of the most important matchup fights in any playoff series. But Tatis won’t play this season, so instead it’s Lindor, who won New York with a resurgent second season there, vs. Ha Seong Kim. Kim has done a great job holding the shortstop position in the absence of Tatis (150 games played, 11 home runs, 12 stolen bases) but just isn’t the difference maker that Tatis is – or Lindor is. The Mets star finished the season with 26 home runs, 16 steals and a career-high 107 RBIs while playing an outstanding shortstop with +13 outs above average.

Mark Canha had another productive season in his first year in New York, posting .367 on-base percentages and 122 OPS+ with a Major League-leading 28 hit-by-pitches for a Mets team that represents the modern hit-by pitch set. record pitch. Jurickson Profar was also solid for the Padres, hitting 15 home runs and a 111 OPS+, so this one is close, but Canha has been just a little bit better.

The Padres’ biggest question as they enter the postseason is what they will be doing in midfield. Trent Grisham is a great defender, with +13 outs above average, and is a home run threat in theory, with 17 long balls in the season. But his attack has been nonexistent until now – he hit .107 in September and October, dropping his season average to .184, well below the Mendoza line. But if not Grisham, the Padres would have to go to either Jose Azocar, who’s really a platoon player to take on lefts — and the Mets’ starters are all rights — or Myers, who certainly isn’t a real center fielder. . The Mets, on the other hand, have the opposite of a question mark in midfield: Brandon Nimmo. New York’s daily leadoff man hit 16 home runs with a 130 OPS+ in the season and was more than capable in the center (+6 outs above average).

If Juan Soto is the Juan Soto who took the Nationals to the 2017 World Series title, he is just as much of an advantage as Machado. Even in a “down” season by his standards in 2022, when his batting average dropped to .242, Soto still led the Majors with 135 walks compared to just 96 strikeouts, hitting 27 home runs with a 149 OPS+. If he hits like he has in every other season of his career, he could also take the Padres to the World Series. For the Mets, if Marte can return, at least they have an All-Star rightfielder too, but even Marte is far outnumbered by peak Soto. When Naquin is there, the gap is even wider.

DH is also a question for the Padres because of Bell’s struggles – he only reached .192 after the trade to San Diego – which could prompt them to use Myers at DH instead. But the Mets have their questions there, too, on the right side of their pack. Lefty slugger Daniel Vogelbach will start against the Padres rightists, and he’s been very good in New York, with a 139 OPS+ in 55 games (not to mention his high potential for cult hero status after the season). But against a lefty like Snell, the Mets’ options are either Ruf, who struggled and finished the regular season on the injured list, or a rookie like Álvarez or Mark Vientos. However, with two of San Diego’s top three starters being right (Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove), Vogelbach’s presence in the multi-game lineup in the series gives the Mets an edge over DH.

You would think that the elite rotation of the Mets, led by Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt, would have an advantage against everyone. But the Braves just proved that even those three can be beaten — and the Padres, with Darvish, Snell and Musgrove, are one of the few teams with a top three to rival New York’s. Still, overcoming deGrom (3.08 ERA, 14.3 K/9) and Scherzer (2.29 ERA, 10.7 K/9) in front of the New York home crowd will be a daunting task in a short run. You have to give this one to the Mets, even if it’s close by.

This battle is just as good as the one between the starting spins. Edwin Diaz vs Josh Hader. Two elite shutters. Hader had 36 saves this season and struckout 14.6 batters per nine innings — but he was also surprisingly vulnerable at times, with a 5.22 ERA overall and a 7.31 ERA since the Padres traded for him. And Diaz? Díaz is currently the best closing in the world. He scored 32 saves with an ERA of 1.31 … and a whopping 17.1 K/9. He retired more than half of the batters he faced this season. As for the bridges to the two closers, both San Diego and New York have multiple capable setup men, but some questions in the middle. But with Díaz, the Mets take this one.

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