Another year, another almost middle-of-the-road season for the Mets—who have now won between 74 and 79 games in each of the last five seasons. However, over the last four, the direction of the franchise has been noticeable and it’s reflected in the blurbs that make up this fantasy preview. Even in an age of diminishing offense, the Mets have gone from allowing 742 runs in 2011 to 709 to 684 to 618 runs in 2014. What the organization has lacked in producing homegrown hitters, they’ve done their best to make up for on the mound—and with the specter of a Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard playoff rotation dangling in the future, they find themselves without the necessary offense to make it a reality.
It’s been a very quiet off-season so far for the Metropolitans, who signed Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry and have otherwise sat on their hands. They also haven’t been rumored for any big name free agents, with the exception of Korean superstar Jung-Ho Kang (who may or may not be a shortstop—stop me if you’ve heard that before with this organization). Additionally, in what appears to be a yearly rite of passage at this point, the Mets are also moving the fences in yet again at Citi Field—this time solely in right-center field. While this could be mildly good news for the left-handed sluggers on the team, it’s unlikely to make a substantial difference.
There’s more optimism in Queens this year than there has been recently, although we’ll never know how much of the 2014 optimism was killed the day Harvey was diagnosed with his torn UCL. And while the pitching is a most of the reason for that, they’ll need both the up and coming bats and veterans to band together and give them a league average offense in order to make a serious run at a Wild Card spot. And with the Marlins’ increased vigor for 2015 contention, possibly fueled by a desire for one more thing from Back to the Future II to come to pass (come on, hoverboards), the division is going to be tougher than in years past.
A note for our readers. While informative, since we are still months away from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, these previews are far from definitive or complete. Free agent signings, trades, and other offseason news will change the landscape for most if not all teams. For any moves that take place after a team preview is written, please look to our Transaction Analysis coverage for instant reactions, and then check back on the Team Previews for more detailed updates (including lineups, rotations, bullpens, etc.) as we get closer to Opening Day.
Another note for our readers. The characterizations below (for example, “stud”) are designed to be taken in context for each team. Not every team has a Mike Trout or Giancarlo Stanton, so the “stud” category represents the best player or players on each team, not necessarily in comparison to the league.
David Wright – 3B
The 2014 season was the worst of Wright’s career, and it was marred by a recurring injury to his left shoulder, that affected him both in the field and at the plate. But with a full off season to recover, he retains stud status for at least another team—after all, he’s still only 32 and is fully capable of hitting .300 with 20 homers and 10-15 steals again. It was his second half that really marred his 2014 totals, as he hit just .238/.284/.282 in 46 games after the break. His days of being a second round pick are over, but he won’t slip out of the top 50 in most leagues.
Matt Harvey – SP
There will be no shortage of expectations for the Chosen One after missing all of 2014 with Tommy John surgery. Even with a less than full workload ahead of him in 2015 (likely around 180 innings), there’s still plenty of reason to draft Harvey as a SP2 in mixed leagues. Even a slightly rusty version of Harvey is still a dominant force.
Jacob deGrom – SP
If you had guessed at the beginning of 2014 that there would be a second Mets pitcher being drafted as an SP2 in 2015 drafts, you’d likely have stumbled on four or five names before reaching deGrom. However, the improvement that the reigning Rookie of the Year in the NL has shown over the last couple of years finally reached critical mass as his changeup and curveball both proved to be bat-missers (and strike-getters) at the major-league level. Have a crack at the hair if you must, but doubt him at your own peril.
Jenrry Mejia – RP
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Mejia as a pitcher, when he is healthy. The problem is that he’s just not healthy enough. Terry Collins has already come out and stated that there would be a competition for the closer role in 2015, and given the upside of both Jeurys Familia and Vic Black, he’s going to be toward the bottom of the closer rankings in 2015.
Ruben Tejada – SS
Like you thought I wouldn’t write the Mets preview without dumping on Tejada. I’m glad you expect better of me. Either way, he can’t hit, so don’t worry about it.
Up and Coming
Travis d’Arnaud – C
The injury history is well known at this point, and the worry is warranted, but d’Arnaud has a strong bat and he finally started to show it off after returning to Queens following a high profile demotion to Triple-A. In the last 69 games of the season, d’Arnaud hit .272/.319/.486 with 10 homers and 32 RBI. That sort of pace is a little high to expect over a full season, but even 90 percent of that would still make him nearly a top-five catcher.
What You See is What You Get
Daniel Murphy – 2B
There may have been steps back in homers, steals and runs from his 2013 season that no one thought he could replicate, but Murphy still managed to fill up the box scores enough to rank as a top-10 second baseman again in 2014. Expecting something similar in 2015 is a good idea, and Murphy makes an even better target in NL-only leagues, where his reliability is even more valuable.
Curtis Granderson – OF
A borderline X-factor candidate based on his reputation and/or the complaints made by his recent owners, Granderson puttered through April and ended up on a lot of waiver wires before doing what was expected of him the rest of the way. That worked out to a .244/.339/.420 line from May 1st on, with 19 homers and six steals. He’s a much more attractive outfielder in OBP leagues for obvious reasons, as he’s one of the few guys who goes from actively hurting you in AVG to actively helping you in OBP. He’s someone owners will likely be hands off on in drafts this March, and could be a very strong value in most formats.
Bartolo Colon – SP
Jonathon Niese – SP
Dillon Gee – SP
There are two spots for these three guys, and that’s even before Noah Syndergaard shows up (we’ll get there later). Colon is going to start if he’s on the team, as he’s got the contract and his performance has been good enough. Niese has the better pedigree to fall back on and the best recently performance, but he’s also never thrown 200 innings in a season and is unlikely to start in 2015. Then there’s Gee, the little engine that could. He’s always going to give up home runs, even in Citi Field, but his strikeout and walk numbers (along with his velocity) went in the wrong direction in 2014 and is likely on the outside looking in here. None of these three are worth drafting in shallow mixed leagues, but odds are they’ll all be usable at some point in the format.
Zack Wheeler – SP
In terms of raw talent on the mound, Wheeler is likely second only to Harvey in the organization, but that hasn’t allowed him to put it all together for fantasy owners yet. On the bright side, he struck out more than a batter per inning and kept the ball on the ground very well, to the tune of a 55 percent ground-ball rate and only 14 homers allowed. On the other hand, his 79 walks were third in the National League, leading to a 1.33 WHIP. A step forward in fastball command would make him a borderline SP1, but projecting that to come in 2015 (or at all) is likely to leave you disappointed.
Michael Cuddyer – OF
The big FA signing of the off-season for New York was excellent while healthy in Colorado; however, that only consisted of 49 games in 2014. The injury risk is certainly real, but prior to last season, Cuddyer did play in at least 100 games each of the last five seasons. The stats will certainly suffer going from Coors to Citi Field, but expecting a .280 average and 20 homers (pro-rated for time missed) is likely to make him a relative bargain.
Lucas Duda – 1B
The big slugger who wasn’t Ike Davis showed he could reach the 30-homer plateau in 2014, despite the decreasing power around him. Said power is very real, and sustainable, but Duda is still about 15-20 points of batting average away from residing in the top section of this article. In OBP leagues, he has a better argument—and in fact, I’d probably put him there. With the fences being moved in this year, Duda has an even better chance to repeat the feat in 2015.
Wilmer Flores – “SS”
There is a very small contingent of the planet who actually believe that Flores will be the starting shortstop for the Mets on Opening Day. Whether it’s Troy Tulowitzki or Jung-Ho Kang, the rumors around what they will do to fill the position will not go away. But if they do, Flores could step in and be a very solid fantasy performer with his contact and power ability—potentially approaching a .270 average with 15-18 homers and more RBI than you’d think.
Juan Lagares – OF
The overall package isn’t super tempting in fantasy, unless you’re in a sim league, in which case, he’s gold. However, he showed a penchant for stealing bases towards the end of the season that could lead him to 20-25 bags in 2015 and make him mixed league viable. If not, his excellent CF defense should keep him in the lineup for NL-only owners.
Jeurys Familia – RP
Vic Black – RP
The other guys in the closer race both have their flaws. Familia doesn’t miss bats the way you’d like an endgame reliever to miss bats, and Black doesn’t hit the strike zone particularly well. Fliers they remain, but good ones at that (especially Familia).
John Mayberry – 1B/OF
He hits lefties good and does everything else bad.
Prospects for 2015
Noah Syndergaard – SP
It’s easy to look at Syndergaard’s 2014 season and say it was a disappointment, but you’d have the right takeaway for the wrong reason. It was disappointing because he wasn’t in Queens, taking his rightful place next to Harvey, deGrom, and Wheeler—not because he took some sort of step back from a stuff or ceiling standpoint. This is still a special arm and he is the top fantasy pitching prospect in the minor leagues.
Dilson Herrera – 2B
If Murphy had been traded, Herrera would have gotten a lot of run as the new second baseman, but it looks like he’ll have to wait a bit longer. Herrera projects to be an all-around performer, not unlike the man he hopes to replace, with enough pop and speed for double-digits in each.
Steven Matz – SP
It’s unlikely that Matz will make the majors in 2015, not because he wouldn’t be ready, but because there’s just no reason to push him through the pile of bodies ahead of him. In the long-run, he could be what everyone thought Jonathon Niese could have been—and not what he actually is.
Sean Gilmartin – RP
The Mets’ Rule 5 pick and former Braves first round pick, Gilmartin was absolutely dominant against left-handers in the minors last season (they hit .201/.219/.235 against him), and is hoping to show that he can do at the major league level.
Kevin Plawecki – C
There’s not a ton of excitement about Plawecki in fantasy leagues, as he doesn’t have much juice in any of the five fantasy categories—but catchers are catchers and he’s behind an injury-prone one on the depth chart.