The Mets redecorated the hallway connecting their clubhouse and dugout early this season, plastering along a lengthy wall a series of images and statistics that highlighted their remarkable 2022 regular season.
Jeff McNeil won the batting title with a .326 average. Pete Alonso had 131 RBIs, a Mets single-season record. Edwin Diaz was the NL reliever of the year with 32 saves. Five pitchers combined to hold the Phillies hitless for a game.
And then there is Mark Canha, who was hit by 28 pitches, the most by any player in a year in franchise history. Accompanying that fun fact is a photo of the leftfielder, grimacing and leaning away from a baseball that nonetheless found him.
He appreciated the inclusion.
“I thought to myself, damn right,” Canha told Newsday on Saturday. “It’s about time I get celebrated and recognized for something. A record is a record and we can laugh about it and we can make jokes. But at the end of the day, that makes me a good baseball player. That was something I accomplished.
“I don’t care if you think it’s funny or if people want to make fun of it or whatever. Go ahead. Have your laugh. I’m laughing straight to the bank.”
Getting plunked really has been a part of Canha’s game. He has led the majors in HBPs in each of the past two years and has reached double-digits five seasons in a row — even the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.
But this year, that well has largely dried up. He has been hit only four times in 186 plate appearances, a rate of 2.15%. Last year, he was drilled in 5.17% of the times he batted. That is enough to move the needle on Canha’s on-base percentage, which at .333 is well below his mark from last year (.367).
“I would like to get hit more,” he said. “Because it obviously makes me more productive. But those 20 at-bats in which I get hit by pitches — if I can flip the table and turn that into hits and extra-base hits and walks, then that’s better. It works out in my favor too.”
Canha’s explanation for the less frequent HBPs: Instead of a “two-dimensional” approach, with hard pitches in and soft pitches away, opposing hurlers have been more elaborate in their attack.
“People probably started realizing, oh, he’s beating us half the time on these four-seamers in just by getting hit by the pitch,” he said. “There’s more of an away attack. They’re mixing up the locations more. And they’re saying, oh, let’s not make it so two-dimensional. Let’s do everything. Fastballs away, fastballs in, breaking balls to both sides. I think they’re changing the way they pitch, trying to avoid that.
“Before they were saying, stay away from his barrel, get close [to his body]. It was more of a panicked, scared attack. Now if they’re going to pitch me more aggressively, then maybe I can punish them for that.”
The Mets added righthanded reliever Vinny Nittoli — acquired from the Cubs via trade recently — to the 40-man roster and optioned him to Triple-A Syracuse. He has a 3.48 ERA in Triple-A this year and pitched across multiple innings in half of his appearances.
Also, righty reliever Jimmy Yacabonis cleared waivers and was sent to Syracuse. He had been designated for assignment Tuesday.
Kodai Senga declined an interview request about his start Sunday, which will be his first time pitching on regular rest . . . Showalter said he has been tempted to work Eduardo Escobar into the lineup more often after he slashed .394/.444/.606 as a part-time player in May: “I see the same thing you’re seeing, and it’s something I’m looking for a way to take advantage of and see if he can get on a little run.” . . . Among the luminaries present for the Mets’ Hall of Fame ceremony: former owner (and current minority owner) Fred Wilpon, plus David Wright, who visited Citi Field for the first time since retiring at the end of the 2018 season.