Brett Baty is Finally Breaking Through With The Mets

After a very tough rookie season in 2023, Brett Baty is starting to establish himself as an above average regular for the New York Mets.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 28: Brett Baty #22 of the New York Mets in action against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field on August 28, 2022 in New York City. The Rockies defeated the Mets 1-0. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

If you’ve followed the New York Mets at all over the past few years, you know that Brett Baty was a very highly touted prospect. You also know that he failed to live up to those expectations in nearly every way possible to begin his major league career.

Whether it was striking out at an alarming rate (28% in 2023), slowly dribbling the ball on the ground, or getting hit in the face after failing to catch a routine pop-up, the former top prospect presented a liability at third base for a team that thought he would provide stability.

In 2022, Baty broke onto the scene with a home run in his first at-bat, but he ended the year on the injured list with a .184/.244/.342/.586 slash in just 11 games. In a larger sample size in 2023, Baty didn’t have much more success. He recorded a slash of .212/.275/.323/.598 OPS in 108 games. Additionally, he only hit nine home runs and recorded 34 RBIs, and also struck out 109 times.

At this point, most Mets fans were ready to give up on Brett Baty for good. How could a former top prospect look so lost in all aspects of the game? He tore up Triple-A whenever he was there, but somehow lost that offensive prowess as soon as he was called back up to the majors and even carried those struggles into the field. It just didn’t make sense.

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Now we’re only a small percentage of the way through the 2024 season, but we are seeing legitimate signs of improvement across the board from Baty, as well as a renewed sense of self-confidence. Suddenly Baty once again looks like the third baseman of the future for the Mets.

What Changed from Last Year to Now?

Confidence was actually the source of many of Baty’s issues to begin his big league career, especially in 2023. Steve Gelbs of SNY, the Mets’ on-field reporter, has shared that Baty went through bouts of self-doubt last year which heavily contributed to his struggles.

Gelbs also shared that Baty made a point to work on the mental side of the game this past offseason. One of his biggest motivators was understanding that all baseball players go through slumps and, even if he does, he’s still one of the 30 best players at his position in the world. Obtaining that perspective has appeared to do wonders for Baty.

So, what exactly is Baty doing better to begin this year?

One of his improvements has been lifting the ball, though there is still room to improve there. In 2022, Baty’s average launch angle was 10 degrees. In 2023, that number dropped to 6.6 degrees. When he’s made contact in the past, it’s been on the ground.

Through the Mets’ first 14 games of the 2024 season, Baty’s average launch angle is 12.7 degrees. It’s not a massive jump from his 2022 season, and it’s in a small sample size, but he’s seemingly more comfortable at the plate and has lifted the ball at the highest rate in his career. Still, he needs to improve even more to sustain his numbers.

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Baty is also jumping all over fastballs, as he has a .480 batting average against heaters. In 2023, Baty’s batting average on fastballs was .242. His launch angle is also up six percent, and his whiff percentage is down almost ten percent on fastballs.

Baty has yet to figure out breaking balls and offspeed pitches, as he is batting .091 with a 44.7% whiff percentage on breaking balls and batting .231 with a 37% whiff percentage on offspeed stuff. His peripheral stats also suggest that he’ll regress to the mean as the season goes on (low xBA, below average exit velocity, low hard-hit percentage).

Still, Baty is coming through in moments that he never would have over the past two years. His lone home run came on the first pitch of an at-bat against Hoby Milner, a lefty with a funky delivery.

Baty entered that game as a pinch-hitter, as he did not get the start against Brewers left-hander DL Hall. After the game, Baty said he knew that if got a chance to pinch hit, the Brewers were likely to grab Milner out of the bullpen to face him. He studied Milner and got the feeling that the first pitch he would see was a sinker inside. That is exactly what he got, and he did not miss it.

The home run against Milner showed the professional approach Baty is taking to all of his at-bats this year. Baty has recorded multiple two-strike hits and has pushed the ball the other way more than we’re used to seeing.

Last year, it felt like Baty’s struggles at the plate often carried over into the field. This year it feels like the opposite is happening, where his play has been so strong in the field that it is carrying over to the box when he is hitting.

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He’s made several plays which demonstrate his confidence, including cutting off Francisco Lindor for a ground ball or snagging a hard-hit line drive out of the air.

As much of a success as the first 14 games have been for Baty in all aspects, it’s important to stress that his numbers suggest that success won’t be sustainable. If Baty wants to sustain a high batting average and keep coming through while at the plate, he’ll need to hit the ball harder and lift the ball more.

Still, Baty’s confidence should not be overlooked. His belief in himself alone has done wonders for him in the early portion of the season, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t continue improving with more plate appearances and with more confidence.

The 24-year-old has all the potential in the world. The Mets will continue hoping he can turn into the third baseman of the future and a perennial future All-Star. For now, he’s transforming into a fine young player before our very eyes and is finally breaking through in the major leagues after a very rough rookie campaign in 2023.