The New York Mets defeated the Colorado Rockies 3-2 to complete a thrilling comeback victory and conclude their 11-game road trip with an astounding 7-4 record. The Mets victory on Thursday was boosted by Marlon Byrd, who launched a two-run home run to left-center field to give the Mets the ultimate lead.
Byrd’s season can’t be described as anything less than miraculous. After signing a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, he showed the same amount of pop that he had displayed in seasons past with Chicago and Texas and his veteran leadership and outfield versatility ultimately led to him cracking the big league roster.
Byrd has simply flown with the opportunity.
The veteran was tasked with his first big opportunity on April 7th against the Miami Marlins. Jose Fernandez had effectively shut down the Mets during his major league debut, yet the club was able to stay within one run of the beleaguered Marlins. Byrd came up with men on second and third and delivered a lined shot down the third base line that just stayed fair as the Mets walked off with an important victory.
The 35-year-old’s two-run shot last night was his 12th of the year, or the same amount of long balls he hit in 2011 and 2012 combined. He has only hit more than 12 home runs once in his career -he hit 20 during his 2009 season with Texas- and furthermore has proven to be among the more valuable corner outfielders in the game. His 1.1 fWar through 228 plate appearances is higher than Nelson Cruz, Denard Span, Jason Heyward, Andre Either, and even Miami’s phenom Giancarlo Stanton. While the term “small sample size” may apply (especially because of Stanton’s injury), Byrd has simply reverted back to performing to his career averages rather than an unusual breakout. His .260/.312/.496 clip is similar to his .277/.334/.416 career line, but is most comparable to his 2009 season in which he performed to a .283/.329/.479 clip. He’s hitting to similar tunes, but he’s not walking with as much efficiency.
Those looking to discredit Byrd won’t find many ways to do so beyond his high 29.8% strikeout rate, which is nearly 13% higher than his career 17.7% average. His .315 BABIP is actually lower than his career .321 average. He’s hitting a lot more fly balls as a result of his changed approach at the plate -44% in 2013 Vs. 32.3% for his career- and he’s hitting far less ground and fly balls.
Byrd has been an excellent addition for the 2013 Mets. His offensive resurgence has helped lead the team to a 9-8 record in their last 17 games and furthermore has displayed the veteran approach the team was sorely lacking at the beginning of the year. Whether or not Byrd remains with the club for the remainder of the season is irrelevant in determining that despite the Mets woes, Byrd has been a light in a dark cave.
Photo Credit: Michael Baron