WASHINGTON — Fair or not, much of the ink spilled over the Mets’ trade deadline strategy focused less on what the team accomplished than what it didn’t. The Mets did not acquire a catcher or a lefty reliever. They did not imitate the more daring moves of the Phillies, Padres and other National League rivals.
But general manager Billy Eppler emphasized that the front office “made our club better” by improving the margin. Daniel VogelbachTyler Naquin, There reputation and Mychal Givens. To prove it, Vogelbach hit a grand slam for the team. Defeated the Nationals 9-5. on Wednesday, joining the reminiscence-that– List of players whose first long ball for the Mets was a hit.
“It’s always good to hit a home run,” Vogelbach said.
Mets, whose first home run was a grand slam.
• Daniel Vogelbach at Nationals, 2022 August 3
• Adrián González at Nationals, 2018 April 8
• Justin Ruggiano, Giants, Aug. in 2016 18th
• Taylor Teagarden vs. Brewers, 2014 June 10
• Collin Cowgill vs. Padres, 2013 April 1
• Angel Pagan vs. Cardinals, 2009 August 5
• Omir Santos vs. Marlins, 2009 April 27
• José Reyes in Angels, 2003 June 15
• Dave Marshall Giants, 1970 April 28
• Jack Hamilton vs. Cardinals, 1967 May 20
• Carl Willey vs. Astros, 1963 July 15
The Mets of Vogelbache and Rufe feel they have built a strong hitting corps for a club that has received little DH input through the first four months of the season. Prior to the acquisition of Vogelbach, the Mets were in the bottom third of the majors in OPS production. Since then, Vogelbach has elevated the Mets into the middle third as he has hit 16 times in 34 games.
He entered Wednesday’s game at Nationals Park with a .905 OPS against right-handed pitching. Rufus had an .886 OPS against lefties. The Mets are hoping that together these two players can match the production of an everyday player with an OPS near that latitude, a Pete Alonso or Juan Soto type.
Expecting Vogelbach and Ruf to give the Mets superstar production at the DH position is a wild dream, but so far so good. Vogelbach’s Grand Slam was the third of his career. He took a 97-mph fastball from Jordan Weems over the right-field fence.
“If you look at their track record and why they were signed, it’s pretty obvious what we expect,” manager Buck Showalter said of Vogelbach and Rufa. “We had some good things, but not as much as we would have liked. We’ve been looking at ways to update that, and we think those two guys have really good results on both sides. This is a real challenge for the other team.
Early in the season, the Mets looked as poised as any team to take advantage of the versatile DH, with Robinson Canó, Dominic Smith and JD Davis all boasting reasonable hitting records. Other National League teams lacked such an advantage. But Canó performed so poorly that the Mets designated him for assignment until early May, Smith was demoted to the Minor Leagues soon after, and Davis was unable to match his previous performance as a right-hander on the side of the bullpen.
“It’s about taking advantage of opportunities,” said Ruf, who spent most of his career with teams in Philadelphia and San Francisco. “It’s really important — especially if you get two or three tackles early in the game and one or two late in the game — to be ready.
Through the first two weeks in Flushing, Vogelbach has proven his readiness despite contributing mostly to singles and walks. Vogelbach’s production was so easy that Max Scherzer went wild on him inside the clubhouse, calling the 6-foot-270-pound slugger a hitter.
Then on Wednesday, as Showalter put it, “Vogey gave us a big blow” — changing the narrative not only of the Scherzer joke, but also of the DH situation, which the Mets believe is finally fixed down the stretch.