This is one of a series of posts in which I will be breaking down every team in the National League. I am by no means a credible source—merely a casual fan who knows a little about baseball and would like to share my observations.
Today we look at the Mets, or as some call them, the “LOL Mets”, because that’s pretty much what it’s like to watch them play.
Projected Lineup: CF Juan Lagares, 2B Daniel Murphy, 3B David Wright, LF Curtis Granderson, 1B Ike Davis, RF Chris Young, C Travis d’Arnaud, SS Ruben Tejada
When Matt Harvey went down with Tommy John surgery last fall, that pretty much closed the book on this year’s Mets for all intents and purposes. Instead of trying to contend, they’re opting instead to do their best to survive the year while the team looks ahead to 2015.
That isn’t to say they didn’t sign any decent free agents this winter. There is a new hitter to be excited about. A guy who is expected to add a serious home run threat to the middle of the batting order, after spending his whole career dominating the American League. A three-time All-Star whose pure athleticism renders him a natural superstar as soon as he steps on a baseball field.
I’m talking, of course, about Bartolo Colon.
Say what you want about his age, but believe it or not, Colon revived his career in Oakland. During his two years there, Colon has only walked 52 hitters in 342.2 innings, throwing strikes and learning to trust his defense to make plays behind him. He also tied for the league lead in shutouts last year, as his new focus on pitching to contact has made him ever more efficient.
And I know I’m not the only one excited to see the big man swing the bat this year. Ooh baby, grab those left field bleacher seats now, because fans will be scrambling to watch him launch baseballs over that fence.
Of course, Colon—from a pitching standpoint—can only be as good as the Mets’ defense, which has in fact improved dramatically since a year ago.
The Mets, in recent years, have been one of the worst defensive teams in the game. Just the thought that at this time last year, they were talking about an outfield that included Jordany Valdespin, Mike Baxter, and Marlon Byrd was enough to make any Mets fan proclaim, “Well, this doesn’t look like the year, how much are tickets to the Rangers game tonight?”
Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, and Chris Young effectively give them three centerfielders in the outfield, and the “old” guys can still cover some good ground out there. Lagares will almost certainly be in the running for a Gold Glove this year. He routinely makes Citi Field look like a bandbox, the way he tracks down fly balls in that spacious outfield.
Unfortunately, it’s the Mets’ offense that will ultimately be their undoing. Lagares, for lack of a better option, has assumed the leadoff spot in the batting order, despite sporting just a .281 on-base percentage last year. He’ll certainly need to improve on that mark to keep his starting spot—otherwise they’ll just put E.Y. Junior in, and let’s face it, his nickname is better anyway.
Projected Finish: 77-85, Third place in NL East