New York Mets fans, Opening Day is right around the corner! Fans have high hopes for their favorite team, and for one single day of the MLB regular season, every team is tied for first place. It’s been awhile since the Mets reached the promise land, but if this is their year, than they’ll need to rely on their youth to win it all.
Young teams can be very exciting to watch, but they can also make poor decisions simply because of lack of experience at the major league level. However, these guys have been playing baseball almost their entire life. If the Mets want to make a playoff run this year, mistakes must be limited and the full potential must be released by players like catcher Travis d’Arnaud, shortstop Wilmer Flores and outfielder Juan Lagares.
We can agree the Mets have an exciting pitching rotation, but their loss to Zack Wheeler due to Tommy John Surgery according to
will have him out until some point in 2016. A big blow for the Mets, but their pitching should still be fine as Matt Harvey is back and a young Noah Syndergaard should make it to the majors at some point this year.
On February 24, 2015
spoke with outfielder Curtis Granderson who is entering his second season as a Met and he had some exciting words to share with the Mets universe:
- as reported by Kristie Ackert of The New York Daily News
“I think we are primed and ready for it,” Granderson said when asked if the Mets can take over the city. “There are a lot of guys here to do it. Obviously the captain has been there, been the face of the organization and known not only in New York but in general. You’ve got a guy coming back in Matt Harvey and new emerging faces such as Juan Lagares, who got a Gold Glove, and (Lucas) Duda, who hit 30 home runs last year.”
The main concern is the offense because they don’t have a dominant bat, but they do have some veteran players. Before we analyze their younger players, let us take a look at the veteran players who are supposed to carry the team towards success.
Third Baseman David Wright
David Wright looks to lead a young Mets team alongside some veterans into the playoffs. (photo credentials go to www.Nj.com)
With The King of New York (Derek Jeter) gone, their is no debate over which New York baseball player is the new King of New York. There is no heavy debate for New Yorks baseball icon like Jay-Z vs Nas’ battle for the top spot in New York after The Notorious B.I.G. was sadly murdered. The crown clearly belongs to David Wright. He has paid his dues being the top guy for the Mets for years, but he’s always been playing in New York behind the shadow of Derek Jeter who was playing for the New York Yankees. It’s time for Wright to shine as the top guy in New York, but how much does he have left in the tank?
He is not the 30 homerun 100 runs batted in hitter that he used to be and he uncharacteristically batted .269 last year according to
. The last time he came close to 30 HR’s was back in 2010 when he hit 29 dingers.
Realistic offensive expectations for Wright is a .290-.310 average (AVG), 15-20 homeruns (HR’s) and 60-80 runs batted in (RBI’s). These numbers are good, but they are not dominating for a number three hitter.
Second Baseman Daniel Murphy
Can Daniel Murphy make it to the All Star Game for the second time in his career in 2015? (Photo credentials go to www.Today.com)
He was a first time NL All-Star last year with a .289 AVG, 9 HR’s, 57 RBI’s and even 13 stolen bases and patrolled second base and spent a little time at third base last year according to
. Overall, he is a good player you want to have batting in the top of the order.
It’s been reported that Daniel Murphy should be good to go on Opening Day despite his recent hamstring injury.
Realistic expectations for Murphy this year include 6-12 HR’s, 50-70 RBI’s and a .275-.295 AVG. Good numbers for a lead-off guy or number 2 hitter.
Outfielder Curtis Granderson
Curtis Granderson looks to regain form after a disappointing season in his first year as a New York Met. (photo credentials to The NY Post)
A former 40 HR Yankee who’s better years are behind him. He struggles at the plate with a batting average below .250 and a slugging percentage below .400. He did not have a first good year with the Mets as he batted a career low .227, hit 20 HR’s (his least amount in a season with 500 plate appearances since 2006 where he hit 19 HR’s with the Detroit Tigers) and he had 66 RBI’s according to
Granderson was thought to be the big homerun bat the Mets needed to add some power behind David Wright. Instead, Granderson should be out of the heart of the order because of his inability to knock runs in.
Realistic expectations for a 34-year old Granderson include a .225-245 average, 20-25 HR’s, 65-85 RBI’s.
First Baseman Lucas Duda
Duda was the top offensive producer for the Mets in 2014, and he looks to hit even better in 2015. (photo credentials go to NBC Sports)
In his age 28 season, Duda finally broke out of his shell as a power bat. Playing in a career high 153 games last year, Duda became the Mets top offensive producer with 30 HR’s 92 RBI’s and a .253 AVG according to
Mets fans should hope last year was not just a superseason for Duda. They need him to be that 30 HR power bat they thought Granderson would be. However, if Granderson can regain form which is not impossible and Duda stays at his 2014 form, The Mets could have two 30 HR bats in their lineup. That would be a perfect situation for the Mets once you add David Wright to the mix and a newly acquired Michael Cuddyer. The Mets may be on to something.
It’s hard to say Duda is expected to hit 30 HR’s since he only did it once. But I think he is a lock for at least 20 HR’s, so let’s say the realistic expectations for Lucas Duda are 20-30 HR’s, 75-95 RBI’s and a .235-.255 AVG.
Outfielder Michael Cuddyer
Michael Cuddyer was the big offseason signing for the Mets. His bat should increase the Mets offense. (photo credentials go to MLB.com(
Cuddyer has become a very good hitter over the last few years. Although he only played in 49 games last year for Colorado due to injury, he still hit .332 after a 2013 season where he led the National League in hitting batting .331 and he even finished 20th in the NL MVP voting that year according to
. He also hit 10 HR’s and drove in 31 RBI’s in 2014.
The injury shouldn’t be that much of a concern for Cuddyer as he seems to be ready for another .330 season, but what should be a red flag is his age at 36. Most players start to go downhill, Cuddyer has been going up hill and now he is on the other side of 35. It should be expected that Cuddyer’s numbers will go down, but for Mets fans, keep the confidence that he will be a .300+ AVG bat.
The confidence and ability of Cuddyer’s bat has actually been compared to Derek Jeter according to New York Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long in a
. He’s a very confident hitter that should only decline a little bit due to age if he declines at all in performance.
Realistic expectations for Cuddyer in 2015 should be a .310-.330 AVG, 15-20 HR’s and 65-85 RBI’s.
The Youth of the Mets Offense: SS Wilmer Flores, C Travis d’Arnaud and OF Juan Lagares
These three young guys are going to be the key for the Mets as they will need them to limit mistakes and perform at a a high level if they want to not only win the NL East, but also win in the postseason.
Since the veteran players have a lot of experience at the pro level and the young players we are going to analyze now do not have a lot of experience, I’ll be using FanGraphs.com to identify their performance in the minor leagues. This will help me properly make a realistic expectation for them in the 2015 season at the pro level assuming they will play a full season in the Major Leagues.
Outfielder Juan Lagares
Juan Lagares has already proven himself to be one of the best fielders in the NL as he won a Gold Glove last year. (photo credentials go to The NY Post)
After 6 long seasons as a minor leaguer in the Mets system, Lagares finally broke out in 2013 as a Major Leaguer and a year later won a Golden Glove for his excellent fielding ability at center field. Great fielding is a necessity for any team at the center field position as that fielder patrols the most amount of land, arguably.
At age 26, Lagares still has plenty of years ahead of him. He has never been considered a big homerun threat, his speed is above average as he stole 25 bags in 2010 at the Single-A and Single-A+ level, but he’s never stole more than 25 bags in a season according to
The Mets would love to see Lagares develop into a lead-off hitter as he has had success with on base percentage in the past like in 2012 when he had .334 OBP at the Double-A level in 547 plate appearances. His 2012 season in the minors primed him for a run at the Major Leagues.
In hist first year in the majors in 2013, Lagares batted .242 with an OBP of .281, 4 HR’s and 34 RBI’s in 421 plate appearances. Heading into 2014, the Mets coaching staff and fans wanted to see Lagares improve in offense and he did just that. In 2014, Juan Lagares batted .281 with an OBP of .321, 4 HR’s and 46 RBI’s in 452 plate appearances.
Lagares is not going to be the big bat for the Mets, but he can be a consistent scrappy player like Brett Gardner for the Yankees for several years before he broke out. Lagares also had 13 stolen bases in 2014 and the Mets would like to see him steal more bags, and maybe he will in 2015. Maybe Lagares will just continue to get better.
Realistic expectations for Lagares in 2015 include an average of .265-.285, 4-6 HR’s, 40-60 RBI’s and a .285-.325 OBP. He’ll probably bat eighth in the everyday lineup when he is not leading off.
Shortstop Wilmer Flores
Wilmer Flores will be the starting shortstop for the Mets in the 2015. (photo credentials go to www.Nj.com
Like Lagares, Wilmer Flores spent roughly six seasons before he was promoted to the Major League level in 2013 for 27 games according to
Flores’ breakout season in the minors was in 2013 at the Triple-A level. In 107 games and 463 plate appearances, Flores hit .321 with 15 HR’s and 86 RBI’s and an OBP of .357. These impressive numbers got him promoted to the majors during that same season where in 27 games and 101 plate appearances he batted a low .211, hit only 1 HR and drove in 13 RBI’s.
Flores saw more time at Triple-A in 2014 where he batted .323 with 13 HR’s and 47 RBI’s in 55 games and 241 plate appearances. It’s clear that his offensive production increased, so Flores spent more time in the majors than in the minors for the first time in his career. At the Major League level in 2014, Flores batted .251, hit 6 HR’s and drove in 29 RBI’s in 78 games and 574 plate appearances.
Flores is now a Major League player and he is expected to one day be sitting comfortably at the heart of the Mets everyday lineup. As far as him breaking out and becoming that hitter for the Mets, they sure would love for him to become the .300 AVG 25 HR 100 RBI guy that he can be, but that’s unrealistic as he as yet to play a full season in the majors.
However, realistic expectations for Flores for the 2015 should be a . 245-.265 AVG, 12-1 7HR’s, 50-70 RBI’s.
Catcher Travis d’Arnaud
Travis d’Arnaud looks to break out as one of the NL’s top catchers in 2015. (photo credentials go to ESPN)
Catcher Travis d’Arnaud is more of a household name compared to Lagares and Flores because he was the top prospect exchanged with Toronto Blue for pitcher R.A. Dickey on December 17, 2012.
d’Arnaud’s breakout season in the minors was in 2011 for the Toronto Blue Jays Double-A Team. In that season he batted .311 with 21 HR’s, 78 RBI’s and a .371 OBP in 114 games and 466 plate appearances according to
. In 2012 at the Triple-A level for the Blue Jays he batted .330 with 16 HR’s, 52 RBI’s and an OBP of .380 in only 67 games and 303 plate appearances due to an injury.
His first shot at the bigs came in 2013 with the Mets when he played 31 games and had 112 appearances. His performance was not that great as he batted .202 with only 1 HR, 5 RBI’s and a .286 OBP.
In 2014 d’Arnaud had significantly more playing time at the major league level, playing in 108 games and getting 421 plate appearances. d’Arnaud’s offensive production increased as he batted .242 with 13 HR’s, 41 RBI’s and an OBP of .302.
Travis d’Arnaud has been one of the more interesting prospects to watch as he has spent time in the Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets farm systems. The Mets hope one day he will become a .300 hitter in the major leagues like he was in the minors, and maybe he can even be a 20 homerun hitting catcher.
Realistic expectations for Travis d’Arnaud in 2015 should be an average of .240-.260, 10-20 HR’s, 40-60 RBI’s and an OBP of .300-.320.
Realistic Expectation for the New York Mets
Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares and Travis d’Arnaud all have the potential to become even better ballplayers than they have become thus far. This is exciting news for the Mets as they have some young guys that may develop into All-Stars someday.
I can’t see the Mets getting past the Washington Nationals this year to win the NL East, but they can contend for a Wild Card spot if all goes well.
This should be a team Mets fans look back on 5-10 years from now to see how many future All-Stars played on this team.