This piece concludes my preview of the NL East. I have already looked at the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, and Washington Nationals. Today I will look at last year’s National League champs, the New York Mets.
The Mets are coming off a 90-72 season highlighted by dominant young pitchers who will look to continue their reign atop the mound. The Mets hung around the Nationals in the number two spot of the NL East for a majority of the season, surging past them in the second half of the year, including a crucial 3 game sweep in Washington from September 7-9.
The Mets’ bats were middle of the pack in the NL last season, finishing 7th in runs and actually finishing tied for 14th in the NL in team batting average with .244 (ironically, they tied with the NL runner-up Chicago Cubs). The pitching is what really defined New York last season, and for good reason. Young phenoms Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey excelled with sub 3 ERAs, and Bartolo Colon had a fantastic year on the mound, leading the Mets in wins.
Coming into the year, the Mets lineup has everything: New guys playing their first full season in the Bigs, well-known players in the middle of their baseball careers, and some veterans who are entering the twilight hours of professional play. Last season’s batting average leader, Daniel Murphy, signed with rival Washington in the offseason, but hits leader Curtis Granderson returns to the Mets for his 13th MLB season, 3rd with the Mets. Granderson shows that, while he is aging, he still has some pop at the plate, his 26 HR and 70 RBI ranked second and third on the team respectively. Granderson also led the team last year with 11 swiped bags in 17 attempts.
The other leading hitter returning to the Mets is their first baseman, Lucas Duda. Duda hit .244 in 2015 , smashing 27 homers and tying Daniel Murphy for a team-leading 73 RBI. Duda provides an intimidating presence in the middle of the order alongside last year’s acquisition from the Tigers, Yoenis Cespedes.
Cespedes has had a lot of buzz surrounding him this offseason (and not just because of what he’s been driving to Spring Training). The Outfielder hit 17 homers in just 57 regular season games for the Mets, although he cooled off in the postseason, hitting just .222 and 2 HR. All the same, Cespedes provides talent in multiple aspects, as he also brings an absolute cannon to the outfield (he did it in the NLCS, too).
One final player worth mentioning is David Wright. Wright played just 38 games in 2015 on account of spinal stenosis. Manager Terry Collins continues to be hesitant to play the long-time Met on account of his recent injury habits. Wright is entering his 13th season in the league, and has had a fantastic career with the Mets. He leads the organization in career hits, runs, RBIs, and extra base hits. He’s had 5 100+ RBI seasons through his first twelve. If the Mets take care of him and he can remain healthy, I think he can still be a strong provider for the Mets offense.
The Mets pitching rotation is absolutely loaded coming into the season. While expecting Bartolo Colon to have the season he did last year on the mound is unlikely, the young arms look primed to terrorize the division. Last year the Mets were 4th in team ERA, and 3rd in opposing batting average. Steven Matz, the youngest of the group, went 4-0 in 6 starts and posted a 2.27 ERA in 2015. Noah Syndergaard looked to be the most vulnerable of the Fantastic Four of the Mets staff; but when the team’s most vulnerable still posts a 3.24 ERA and strikes out 166, you know that rotation has talent.
The front two men of the rotation, Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, both put up astounding numbers for such young talent. Between the two, they hold 393 Ks to just 75 walks in 2015. If these two continue to deal at this pace, (neither posting an ERA above 3.00 in their first few seasons) and Syndergaard and Matz can continue to build on their first year in the MLB, this Mets rotation could be primed for another deep postseason run. Bartolo Colon is admittedly the wildcard in the rotation, but the 18 year veteran has been solid in his past two years with the Mets.
This Mets team has the pitching to make them a contender for a long time in the National League, it will be up to the bats to provide them with run support. Yoenis Cespedes, Lucas Duda, and (hopefully) David Wright should all be very strong providers for the Mets offense in their attempt to guard their National League belt.