2018 MLB preview: New York Mets

2017: 70-92 (fourth place in NL East)

Last Postseason Appearance: 2016

Last World Series Title: 1986

2017 Recap

One word to define the New York Mets 2017 season? Injuries. Throughout the season, New York lost, most notably, Noah Syndergaard, Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, David Wright, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zach Wheeler, and Jeurys Familia. Jose Reyes was the only player on the Mets to play in at least 140 games.

It all started in April when Syndergaard declined to undergo an MRI, even though doctors encouraged he do so. Of course, a team like the Mets did not force him to get the test. On April 30, Syndergaard exited a game against the Nationals, and ultimately tore his lat. He did not make it back until the last week of the season.  “Thor” finished the year with a 2.97 ERA in his seven starts.

Besides for Jacob DeGrom, who, in 201 innings, went 15-10 with a 3.53 ERA and finished fifth in strikeouts, the Mets staff was absolutely atrocious. Below is a table which illustrates how poor the other starters for New York performed in 2017. The Mets finished with the fourth most walks and total bases, 26th in Opp. SLG, 27th in Opp. OPS, 28th in ERA, and 29th in BAA and WHIP.

METS PITCHERS WHO MADE AT LEAST 13 STARTS, NOT NAMED JACOB DEGROM

NAME (STARTS) ERA
ROBERT GSELLMAN (22) 5.19
SETH LUGO (18) 4.71
RAFAEL MONTERO (18) 5.52
MATT HARVEY (18) 6.70
ZACH WHEELER (17) 5.21
STEVEN MATZ (13) 6.08

2017 NL All-Star, Michael Conforto (NJ.com)

Among the 15 NL teams, the Mets finished last in steals, and 11th in OBP and hits. In regards to the entire league, New York finished 19th in runs, and 27th in run differential. As a team, they ranked 28th in WAR.

However, some positives came out of this bad situation. Outfielder Michael Conforto, who started the season as the Mets fourth outfielder, worked his way into the lineup and was selected to the 2017 MLB All-Star Game. Unfortunately, in typical Mets fashion, Conforto, after taking a swing in a Late-August game, dislocated his left shoulder and tore his posterior capsule, which required season-ending surgery.

In his 109 games, Conforto hit 27 home runs, with a .279 batting average and .384 OBP. He also led the team in SLG and OPS, and hit .320 with men in scoring position. Because of the offseason shoulder surgery, Conforto will be out until the beginning of May.

2018: Around the Diamond

With an entirely new medical team in place, the Mets hope to turn back into the team that won the NL Pennant in 2015. New York brought back Jose Reyes, who stole 24 bases, and finished seventh in triples, as well as Jay Bruce, who hit 29 home runs and 75 RBIs in 2017. They also signed Adrian Gonzalez, who will start at first base. The 5x All-Star and 4x Gold Glove Award winner fought injuries last season, but still has some left in the tank. As an everyday player in 2016, Gonzalez hit .285 with 18 home runs. The Mets desperately need production out of their first basemen, a position in which they finished 27th in WAR in 2017.

Yoni is ready to go for 2018 (SI.com)

The Mets also struggled with getting any output out of the hot corner. Last season they ranked 28th in WAR for third basemen. To save the day, New York signed Todd Frazier, who hit 27 home runs, walked 83 times, and posted a .344 OBP. Joining Gonzalez and Frazier in the infield will be Asdrubal Cabrera, who was second on the team in OBP and doubles, and Amed Rosario, a former top prospect who struggled in his first 46 MLB games, but hit .328 with seven home runs and 19 steals in 94 AAA games. Rosario strikes out a lot and needs to draw more walks, but let’s hope he turns into the player that the Mets expected.

Mets star Yoenis Cespedes dealt with hamstring injuries in 2017 and played in just 81 games. He still was able to hit .290, 17 home runs and slug .540. He homered in his spring training debut so all seems well for the left fielder. Jay Bruce will remain in right, and Juan Lagares, who has a new swing in 2018, will most likely start in center until Conforto is healthy. Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki will split time behind the plate, and, when the team travels to an American League ballpark, look for Brandon Nimmo, Wilmer Flores or Jose Reyes to get some time at DH.

On the Bump

After DeGrom and Syndergaard, this rotation is filled with giant question marks. Matt Harvey was horrendous last season, especially late, posting a 1-4 record with a 11.28 ERA in September. Zach Wheeler has only made 17 starts since his 2015 Tommy John, and has not been impressive at all. Steven Matz had season-ending elbow surgery in August, but was terrible when he pitched. Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, two pitchers who finished second and third on the team in starts, had poor 2017’s.

Expect big seasons from both Syndergaard and DeGrom (FOX Sports)

Last week, New York signed Jason Vargas, who, last season, went 18-11 with a 4.16 ERA with Kansas City. New York also brought in AJ Griffin to help with depth. In all likelihood, Vargas, Harvey, and Wheeler will join DeGrom and Syndergaard in the starting rotation. But don’t sleep on Gsellman, who had a 3.50 ERA in the second half of 2017.

In 2017, The Mets finished 29th in bullpen ERA. Familia missed time, but is good to go for 2018, and will serve as the primary closer. Joining him in the bullpen, most notably, will be Jerry Blevins, who in 75 appearances, went 6-0 with a 2.94 ERA, AJ Ramos, and Anthony Swarzak.

The Future

Although New York has no members on MLB.com’s, 2018 Top 100 Prospect’s list, there a few names to remember. Andres Gimenez, New York’s top prospect, is a 19-year-old shortstop who is a nice defender, with above average speed, and a good eye at the plate. David Peterson, the Mets first round pick in 2017, pitched well in his three A-Short starts, and has potential to be a solid number three at some point.

Peter Alonso could be the future starting 1B for the Mets. A former second round pick. Alonso, in 93 games between A+/AA, slashed .289/.359/.524 with 18 home runs. Dominic Smith may be ahead of him on the depth chart, but if Alonso continues to hit, there is no reason as to why he will not become an everyday player. As far as player comparisons, Alonso looks like a right-handed Justin Bour.

2018 Prediction: 78-84

With the majority of their better players now healthy, New York will improve from last year’s win total, but don’t expect this team to be playing in the postseason. DeGrom and Syndergaard are great, but the backend of the rotation cannot be trusted. This lineup is weak and, besides for Cespedes and maybe Jay Bruce, no one in this order is feared.

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New York Mets offseason

New York Mets offseason in review

The New York Mets have been one of the most active teams in free agency this offseason, making shrewd and solid moves in an otherwise stagnant offseason for most clubs.

Many teams have chosen to adjust their rosters via trade, rather than increase payroll. However, the Mets have made the most of their budget and reconnected with some familiar names.

With spring training underway, the season has begun for the Mets and they are ready to embark on the 2018 season. Let’s recap the team’s most significant acquisitions and signings thus far.

Anthony Swarzak

New York Mets offseason

Anthony Swarzak delivers a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Photo from NY Daily News)

This signing was made to bolster the Mets’ bullpen depth, although he essentially replaces Addison Reed from last year’s team. It was still a necessary pickup to give new manager Mickey Callaway another option out of the pen besides Jerry Blevins, AJ Ramos and Jeurys Familia.

Callaway has stated that there will be a closer by committee this season for the bullpen, so there is no defined role yet for Swarzak. However, it will become clearer as the season goes on. 

Jay Bruce

New York Mets offseason

Jay Bruce celebrates with Yoenis Cespedes after hitting a home run against the Philadelphia Phillies. (Photo from Forbes.com)

The Mets realized they traded away too much of their power from last season, so they brought back Jay Bruce to fill a hole in the outfield, and provide depth at first base. He will also take on a role as a leader in the clubhouse that was sorely needed for how young the team is.

Bruce led the Mets in hitting, home runs and RBIs before he was traded to Cleveland last summer. The team will expect more of the same productivity moving forward.

Adrian Gonzalez

The Mets brought in Gonzalez to be a placeholder at first base until Dominic Smith is ready for his next chance in the big leagues. He replaces Lucas Duda from last season.

While he won’t provide the offensive firepower that Duda had, he is a veteran and a natural at the position with a smooth glove that will help the youngsters around the infield improve their overall game.

Jose Reyes

This move was made purely for infield depth and allows the team to reconnect with a fan favorite. It also gives Reyes the opportunity to play for the one team that has always accepted him. He will be around to mentor the young Mets’ infielders, specifically Amed Rosario, who expressed his desire to the club to bring Reyes back in the offseason.

He will look to establish himself as a future star in his first full big league season. Reyes will provide infield depth as he is capable of playing third base, shortstop and second base.

Todd Frazier

New York Mets offseason

Todd Frazier in the home run derby. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

In a much-needed move, the Mets not only improved their offense by plugging Frazier’s power into the middle of their lineup, but also solidified the team’s defense, as Frazier can pick it at third with the best of them. He has been rated one of the best defensive third basemen ever since he came up with the Cincinnati Reds.

He is also a large presence in the clubhouse. The team will hold him in high regard for his leadership skills on and off the field to go along with the many hits he will hopefully swat for the team during his tenure.

Jason Vargas 

New York Mets offseason

Jason Vargas being formally introduced as the newest member of the New York Mets. (Photo from NY Daily News)

In a surprising late offseason signing, the Mets added some valuable pitching depth behind Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard by signing Vargas. He will almost certainly take up one of the five rotation spots for the Mets this season.

The signing also increases competition for the last two spots among the other young Mets hurlers like Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman. This will make an entertaining spring training.

 

 

 

 

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Fantasy Baseball 2017

Fantasy Baseball 2017: Free Agent Frenzy

In fantasy baseball, it is general knowledge that your league championship isn’t won on draft day. One major key to success is staying active on the waiver wire.

As we are a month into the season, the easiest way to acquire talent is by adding free agents. Below, are four players who are under ten percent owned on ESPN.com, but should be rostered in the majority of formats.

 

Delino DeShields, Outfielder, Texas Rangers, (Seven Percent)

Fantasy Baseball 2017

Delino DeShields will look to make the most of his opportunities in 2017. (Photo by: Rotoprofessor.com)

With Adrian Beltre injured, and Joey Gallo manning third base, DeShields has earned himself the everyday roll in left field. He was a former first-round pick in 2010, and has bounced between the major and minor-league levels since 2015. The 24-year-old has plenty of fantasy potential, as he is currently batting leadoff, is an elite base stealing threat, and is versatile.

DeShields can be an elite producer of runs and steals as long as he remains atop the lineup. Once Beltre returns, it will be interesting to see what the Rangers do with Gallo and DeShields, although their versatility will presumably allow them to continue to see regular playing time.

 

 

 

Michael Taylor, Outfielder, Washington Nationals, (Three Percent)

Fantasy Baseball 2017

Michael A. Taylor will replace Adam Eaton for the remainder of the 2017 season. (Photo by: Gene J. Puskar)

The Washington Nationals lost their starting center fielder, Adam Eaton, to a torn AC, which moves Michael Taylor into an everyday role. Taylor is a career .259 hitter in the minors, with 52 home runs and 140 stolen bases in 560 games played. The 26-year-old’s numbers aren’t overwhelming, although his opportunity to be productive with the Nationals is immense. Taylor will primarily bat seventh, which puts him behind some of the best hitters in the league, including Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon, which increases his opportunity to produce RBI. Also, if veteran Jayson Werth were to struggle, Taylor could sneak up to the two hole, and be an elite run producer and stolen base threat.

 

Amed Rosario, Shortstop, New York Mets, (Three Percent)

Fantasy Baseball 2017

Amed Rosario is sure to see a call to the majors sooner rather than later. (Photo by: New York Post)

The 21-year-old is currently batting .402, with one home run, 16 runs scored, 14 RBI, and seven stolen bases at the AAA level. He is in line to be the shortstop of the future for New York, although it looks like he will be called up in 2017. His major-league counter parts, Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera, are playing very poorly, as both are batting under .250, giving Rosario a possible opening to major-league at-bats.

The Mets need a spark, as they have lost many core players to injuries, such as Yoenis Cespedes, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Mats to name a few. Keep an eye out for Rosario, as he is exactly what the Mets need, and should see a call-up sooner than later.

 

Kennys Vargas, First Baseman, Minnesota Twins, (One Percent)

Fantasy Baseball 2017

Kennys Vargas will make an impact in 2017. (Photo by: Getty Images)

Vargas was called-up to the Twins in late-April, and has batted .364 with two home runs, eight runs scored and six RBI in six games played. He can hit for contact and power, as he is a career .277 hitter in the minors with 89 home runs, so as long as he continues to bat in the heart of the order, he will have the opportunity to be an elite fantasy producer.

The 26-year-old has taken over for Joe Mauer twice at first base, but is playing majorly designated hitter this season. The Twins have plenty of flexibility with their bats, as they can move Vargas or Sano to a corner outfield spot to ensure they continue to get at-bats.

 

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Cream of the Crop: Top Five Prospects from the Farm

As is tradition, MLB.com issued their top MLB prospects list this past week to highlight the games future stars. At the top of the class are five elite youngsters who are already generating a buzz around the league.

Some of these players have already made a contribution at the Major League level while others are rapidly progressing towards a call-up to “The Show”. Today, The Game Haus breaks down the players, their positional fit, and their expected contribution for the 2017 season.

 

No. 5 Amed Rosario

The 21-year-old Amed Rosario may be the one of two prospects on this list we don’t see in 2017. However, given Rosario’s outstanding minor league numbers and the positional need for the Mets, expect him sooner rather than later. Asdrubal Cabrera didn’t have a bad showing in 2016, but a dWAR of -0.1 may prompt the Mets to adjust.

In addition to outstanding fielding ability Rosario has been consistent at the plate through every level. Slashing .280/.328/.388 with good speed on the base paths and developing power, Rosario’s athleticism is unquestionable. For as young as he is the Mets shouldn’t need to rush a call-up, but at the speed he continues to develop, it may be hard for New York to hold off.

No. 4 Dansby Swanson

Top MLB Prospects

(Courtesy Getty Images)

Dansby Swanson was called up in August of last year and made his impact felt early and often. In just 129 at-bats, Swanson slashed .302/.361/.442, smacked three home runs, and stole three bases.

Atlanta made a strong showing in the final months of 2016 and Swanson played a critical role in that effort. Most impressive was Swanson’s ability to take his incredibly brief stint in the minors and immediately translate that skill set to the major league level. With maturity beyond his years and a winning baseball pedigree, the Braves have to feel good about this cornerstone player.

 

 

 

No. 3 Gleyber Torres

The third shortstop on the list, Gleyber Torres represents the top prospect at the position. A key trade piece in the 2016 Aroldis Chapman deal with the Cubs, the Yankees certainly netted an impressive return. Torres displays all of the defensive tools, but his power potential is what sets him apart at his position.

The interesting decision for the Yankees will be juggling call-up timing in relation to current up-and-comer Didi Gregorius. That said, at just 19 years old, the Yankees can afford to be very patient. Torres’ already advanced plate discipline will make it difficult to stash him for long, but having too many good shortstops in your system can hardly be considered an issue.

No. 2 Yoan Moncada

Top MLB Prospects

(Courtesy Getty Images)

Long considered to be the top prospect in the MLB, Yoan Moncada has only been recently inched out by number one on this list. However, losing out on the top spot certainly doesn’t take away from this young gun’s incredible potential. Developing through the Boston farm system, Moncada was only recently dealt to Chicago in the Chris Sale trade.

Slashing an impressive .287/395/.480 during his minor league career, with an even more impressive 94 stolen bases, there is no questioning Moncada’s MLB readiness.

A brief eight-game call-up in 2016 gave Moncada a taste of the majors, but not at his true position at second base. Given Chicago’s clear rebuild strategy, there’s no urgency to immediately slot him in. However, whenever the Sox decide he’s ready, there’s no chance Brett Lawrie will inhibit this future stars’ progress.

No. 1 Andrew Benintendi

At the top of the list sits Andrew Benintendi, and for good reason. After demolishing the minors slashing .312/.392/.540 he was called up to play 34 games in 2016. Benintendi kept pace by utilizing those 118 plate appearance to quickly generate a .295/.359/.476 slash line.

Despite his youth, Benintendi has a consistent ability to put the ball in play while also generating solid power. Already being slotted as the Red Sox everyday left fielder before the start of camp demonstrates Boston’s confidence in his readiness. Benintendi has performed at every level and it will be exciting to see how he continues to hone his craft in the 2017 season.

 

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