I want to start off my first piece writing for MMN with complete honesty. I might be a little biased with regard to Matt den Dekker. But, this bias is also because as a Florida Gator, I’ve seen the numbers he can put up and the never-ending highlight reel clinic he puts on in the outfield.
With den Dekker’s promotion and the end of Byrd in right field, I figured it’d be nice to drop a “Farewell to the Minors” style piece for den Dekker, chronicling his minor league journey, doing some pros/cons of who he is as an athlete, and what we can probably expect.
After suffering a gruesome wrist injury in Spring Training, den Dekker is now 26-years-old, having been in the Mets organization since 2010. Each league he’s played in, den Dekker has shown a learning curve—starts off slow, with alarming strike out rates.
I haven’t scared anyone off the den Dekker bandwagon yet, have I? Honestly, I shouldn’t have, because here’s some stats worth looking at.
Matt den Dekker arrived in AA Binghamton in 2011 and hit 11 HRs in 72 games and 32 RBIs at a .235 clip. Alarming stat: 91 strikeouts.
He began the 2012 season with the B-Mets, played there for 58 games, hit a ridiculous .340 with eight home runs and 29 RBIs. Still, he struck out 64 times. He was promptly promoted to Buffalo.
He played 77 games for Buffalo in 2012 and hit a sad .220 with 90 strikeouts. Concerning, definitely, but he’s adjusting to higher quality pitching and has been known to struggle before putting it all together. He still managed nine homers and 47 RBIs despite the scarier stats.
Then he got injured in spring training. A wrist injury can really mess up a swing, especially when we’re talking about regaining strength and timing again after such an extended period off. He makes his triumphant return, rehabbing in St. Lucie before going directly to the 51s for 53 games after a scary start (recall that he’s adjusting from A+ pitching to AAA pitching after finally being able to have mobility in his wrist).
In AAA this year, after a not-so-good 0-for-18 start, den Dekker put it all together. In 53 games, Matt has 53 hits, eight doubles, four triples, six homers, 38 RBIs, eight SB, one CS, 20 BBs, 46 SOs, .296 average, .366 OBP.
After perusing his stats, it’s really fascinating to note that in 90 at bats with men on base, den Dekker is hitting .356. With men in scoring position, he’s hitting .355 in 62 at bats.
There’s a chance he’ll start off slowly, a la Travis d’Arnaud, but he’ll be great in the outfield and could represent extra base hit power. If he can continue to cut out the strikeouts and hit with men on, den Dekker shouldn’t be seeing the minors again anytime soon.
The only sad note about this quicker-than-expected promotion is that he’s most definitely going to miss the Vegas 51s playoff games and push for the championships. He’s provided much needed offense for them, but Zach Lutz should be able to continue to carry the team as he has been since Wilmer Flores’ promotion.