With his pinch-hit walk to get on base in the ninth inning in last nights game and the use of his speed to give Terry Collins the confidence to call the hit-and-run, I think it’s high time we all take notice of the silent contributions of one Michael Joseph Baxter.
Now, from not looking at a single stat, it seems that Mike Baxter hasn’t made an out yet in this young season. Of course, this is not the case. His outs have hardly been crucial, game changing outs. They have been quiet and forgettable, unlike those of Ike Davis and the late Jason Bay (who is taking multiple pages from Taka Tanaka’s book). When the guy makes an out, it’s like he was never there. When he gets on base, however, he changes the complexion of the game. Not only is his swing nice and smooth, but his speed provides an asset that this team sorely lacks. With hardly anyone swiping bags, it’s a sigh for sore eyes when Baxter breaks and slides in ahead of a tag from any number of second basemen or shortstops.
He’s gotten a nice handful of big hits and has worked a couple of key walks. The kid isn’t going to make anyone’s eyes pop with Mo Vaughn-esque dingers, but his modus operandi gel so well with the rest of the squad that his presence is silently deafening. Everyone goes through slumps (except maybe Ty Cobb) and I don’t see Baxter posting a .750 BA in pinch hit spots, but he is definitely the kind of guy who makes his appearances count.
No one can complain about his contributions thus far. This team needs a lot to go right for them if they are going to make their presence felt in this division late into the season, and I believe that Mike Baxter is going to be a big part of that. I try not to count my chickens before they hatch, but whenever a team goes all the way, you hear more about the role-players who gold the team together by coming up big when they are called upon.
While I am not predicting a World Series for the Mets in May, I think it’s about time the Mets put together an on-field product that is strong from top to bottom. While they lack the big names with big numbers, guys like Baxter provide the grit and alertness that helps a team of any makeup win. And that’s what counts.