Seriously, what were the odds I was going to need that headline. 15-1? 150-1?
But after last night’s heroics, the go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth, the perfect throw to cut down the would-be tying run in the ninth, Marlon Byrd is hitting .260/.312/.495, good for a 122 OPS+. That’s good for seventh-best among major league right fielders. And even the defense, per ultimate zone rating, grades out as slightly above average.
Here were Byrd’s inspired words after Thursday night’s win: “We didn’t come here to [have] a 100-loss season. We didn’t come here to just play for 4th place, 3rd place. We came here to win.”
Which, you know, good for him.
Center field may be a wasteland. Lucas Duda proved he can’t play the outfield sufficiently well to carry his bat, again. But Byrd in right field has worked out nicely.
The question is whether the Mets learned from their odd decision not to trade Scott Hairston last summer. Hairston had an awfully similar 2012 to Byrd, with a slugging-heavy 118 OPS+. For some reason, Sandy Alderson refused to deal Hairston unless receiving a team’s “top-three prospect” in return, which, no. But the Mets are hardly overstocked with so much talent, particularly at the upper levels of the farm system, that more couldn’t have helped.
Hairston’s contributions in August/September 2012 weren’t sufficient to justify not flipping him for anything, including a lottery pick like an A-ball pitcher, etc. The same is true of Byrd, of course, who is only signed through this year, whose power totals are inflated by an unsustainable 18.3% home run rate on fly balls, and whose previous 1,864 plate appearances of 97 OPS+ hitting from 2010-2012 are likely more predictive than the .881 OPS he’s put up in 156 plate appearances since May 1.
Other teams know this, too, but could hope to catch lightning in a bottle and add some hitting down the stretch. Whatever is the best deal to be had for Byrd, the Mets ought to make it.
And then, the offensive downgrade will be pretty steep in August and September. But doing things like giving regular at-bats to Kirk Nieuwenhuis, for instance, makes more sense when planning for 2014 anyway.
Still: you’re going to miss Marlon Byrd when he’s gone. And who thought that was even possible back in March?