One of the Mets’ spring training concerns is off to a good start. You wouldn’t be wrong saying Travis d’Arnaud is facing a make-or-break season.
The combination of not performing – at the plate or behind it – and not being able to stay on the field has kept d’Arnaud from being the impact player they envision when they acquired him from Toronto in the R.A. Dickey trade. Believe it or not, there were some who rated d’Arnaud higher than Noah Syndergaard in that deal.
It’s been only 20 at-bats, but d’Arnaud is hitting .450 (9-for-20) with two homers and four RBI. His discipline is better, evidenced by a .450 on-base percentage.
It’s rather simple, d’Arnaud explained to reporters: After working with hitting coach Kevin Long this winter, d’Arnaud ditched his former stance in which he wrapped his bat around his head, he’s seeing the ball better.
Translation: Seeing the ball enables him to hit it.
“My results are more swinging at strikes and hitting the ball on the barrel,” d’Arnaud said. “For me, me it’s being able to see the ball longer and not have to cheat to get to some pitches and just keeping everything slow and not try to do too much.
“We made the swing so it’s more direct and I don’t have to overcommit.”
Even a fraction of a second would give d’Arnaud enough time to recognize and turn on a pitch. It’s the difference between driving a pitch and popping it up or missing it entirely.
For d’Arnaud, it could be the difference between a productive year in the major leagues, or not being there at all.