Mets' Brett Baty says he was 'riding the roller coaster too much' last season, talks fixes to swing

Brett Baty entered his second big league season in 2023 looking to build off a brief taste of life with the Mets the year before. But things did not go to plan for the young third baseman, who struggled at the plate and in the field and was sent back down to the minors later in the season.

“That’s just the game of baseball,” Baty said Thursday after reporting for spring training when asked about why he believes last season didn’t go the way he wanted it to.

“I think you could go through really good stretches and then really bad stretches,” he continued. “And I think the people that are the best in this game are the ones who are the most consistent, who can go into those valleys, but can also come out of it and stay like even-keeled and stuff like that.

“And I think I was riding the roller coaster too much.”

After spending the first two weeks of the season at Triple-A Syracuse, Baty would bat just .216 with a .620 OPS while striking out 86 times during an 86-game stint with the Mets while committing nine errors in the field. And in the 21 games after the All-Star break preceding his demotion, he had nine hits in 77 plate appearances.

Baty added: “Last year's in the past. Like we can learn some stuff from last year, of course, but I'm just looking forward to this year, man. I’m looking forward to having fun. Lot of new faces around, I’ve already gotten to meet a lot of new people, and I think we’re gonna have a really fun year.”

Manager Carolos Mendoza said the 24-year-old is “in a really good place mentally, physically” entering spring training.

“There’s always that transition coming from the minor leagues to the big leagues and he struggled, it’s not a secret it’s not easy, especially when [you are a] high expectation type of prospect,” the new Mets’ skipper said. “I think he’s in a really good spot right now and like I said, I’m really looking forward to watching him play.”

For Baty, the path to staying off the roller coaster this season is about “coming to the field and just knowing that you’re the best person on the field every single day and thinking that and really believing that.”

He added that he sees other players come into the clubhouse and no matter if the previous day was a failure or success “they’re not even thinking about that. They’re just thinking about what they gotta do tonight. And I think I need to do a better job of that this year.”

Feb 27, 2023; Jupiter, Florida, USA; New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) and third baseman Brett Baty (22) warm up prior to a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.

Faced with having to win a fight to earn playing time at third base this season for the Mets, Baty is unphased.

“I mean, I think competition is great. I think it makes everybody better,” he said. “Any way we can make this ballclub better, I’m for it. And I’m gonna go out there and work as hard as I can. And do what I can for this ballclub.”

To win the job, Baty doesn’t think he needs to show anything special, but just “going out there and be consistent.”

“I’m not trying to go out there and do anything extraordinary and just ‘wow’ ‘em, I’m just gonna go out there and be who I am. Be me,” he said.

Earlier this offseason, Mendoza got his first chance to meet Baty and see him work while the third baseman was in Orlando at the invitation of shortstop Francisco Lindor.

“He looks good, you know, at the end of the day this is a talented kid,” he said. “What I keep telling him and telling the coaches is to be yourself. Go out there and be yourself. Have fun and play your game. So far, really good.”

Baty said he “had some really good conversations” with his new manager and called the experience of working with Lindor “a really good experience” working on his defense and footwork specifically with the two-time Gold Glove winner.

“Just getting to balls using my feet and getting good hops like that,” Baty said of the defensive work he did this offseason.

On the offensive side of things, he said he is focused on being more direct with his swing and making sure his top hand is strengthened and is “trying not to let the barrel drop and catch balls more out front.”

“Getting the top hand strong really helped getting the barrel more out front just so I can get more balls in the air and it’s not like trying to get under balls, it’s like being more direct with the top hand. It feels good,” Baty explained.

He added that he spent the first three weeks of evaluating his swing was done solely with video analysis and he didn’t touch a bat or go to the cage during that time. Going over his posture, hands, feet, and legs he found some barrel lag in his swing.

“We were just looking at stuff that we could tweak because I think the level of consistency wasn’t there last year,” Baty said. “There were times I hit the ball really hard and did some really good things offensively and then there was some times where I didn’t know what I was doing up there.”