By Michael Mandelkern
Most New York Mets fans do not see eye to eye on the 2014 season. The Ike Davis versus Lucas Duda debate has been contentious and never ending. Some believe Curtis Granderson will be another Jason Bay while others are optimistic about the three-time All-Star. What keeps these arguments alive in January is that Opening Day is not until March 31st and fans are itching for baseball. No one knows for sure how the Mets will perform this year. Many players on the roster have not played one full season in the majors going into 2014. Predicting performances based on a small sample size is difficult, but minor league statistics must be taken with a grain of salt.
I compiled my own predictions of 12 Mets hitters for the 2014 season. They are based on past MLB performance and my gut feeling from watching games. There are no correct answers because I am inherently biased and did not apply a computer formula. If you have something to say about it leave a comment or tweet me @metsonmymind.
Eric Young Jr.
.247/.316 /.337 with 2 HR and 22 RBI
Last season is the most accurate evaluation of Young since he played 14 games shy of a full season. He got off to a hot start when the Rockies traded him to the Mets in June, but then he became an easy out for considerable stretches. He is overeager at the plate and does not draw many walks. However, he posted OBPs of .342 and .377 in 2011 and 2012, respectively, as a part-time player so he has potential. He has virtually no pop and drove in just 32 runs in 2013, so he won’t produce much. With the additions of Chris Young and Curtis Granderson, he likely won’t play as many games as he did in 2013. Speed kills, but only if the runner is on base.
.252/.330/.377 with 5 HR and 26 RBI
Prior to 2013, Satin only played 16 games with the Mets: 15 in 2011 and 1 in 2012. He had an impressive .376 OBP in his 75 games last season. Satin demonstrated plate discipline and an ability to work a count over his 221 plate appearances in 2013. He has earned a roster spot as a bench player, but maintaining that on-base percentage is not realistic. Between the platoon, pinch-hitting and utility starting, he could see a similar amount of at-bats to last season. His extra-base power is scarce, yet he can connect with singles.
.272/.321/.377 with 7 HR and 28 RBI
Flores only played 27 games in 2013. He was scorching in his first week with 9 RBI in just first six games, but then he twisted his ankle and was not the same for the rest of the season. He sat out of games down the stretch and looked tentative in the batter’s box. Although it was just one week, he showed a capability to drive in runs. Since the infield is booked there is no everyday position for him. Flores needs to make the most of every opportunity presented to him, and maybe one day he will earn a starting role.
.218/.337/.418 with 6 HR and 16 RBI
These numbers are underwhelming because Ike Davis will likely get the majority of starts against right-handed pitchers. If Davis prospers then Duda will spend a lot time on the pine and possibly not even live up to these meager projections, but he could see some playing time if Davis struggles. He hit an atrocious .145 with runners in scoring position last season and only drove in 33 runs on 15 homers. The past two seasons do not suggest that he can hit for an even decent average, and his RBI production fell dramatically from 2012 to 2013. Duda could even spend all of 2014 with the Las Vegas 51s.
.224/.301/.304 with 1 HR and 22 RBI
Tejada’s regression last season was alarming. Hitting a pathetic .202 with a .259 OBP in 2013, he was an automatic out who could work counts but he ultimately grounded out instead of drawing walks. Tejada has never played over 114 games in one season. He is injury prone, sometimes from trying to do too much. Relying on him to even play 130 games is irrational. Tejada showed some promise in 2012, but it was not sensational enough to buy himself a lot of time. With just two home runs and 86 RBI throughout his entire career, it would not be surprising if he does not hit a single home run this season.
.262/.331/.372 with 12 HR and 51 RBI
Evaluating d’Arnaud beyond his minor league performance is difficult because he played just 31 games in his Major League debut last season. Despite a strong performance in AAA, he has not even lived up to a portion of the hype. But d’Arnaud looks intimidating at the plate and seems to have a good eye. He showed an ability to hit line drives into the gap, which would serve well in Citi Field’s vast outfield. With just one homer and 5 RBI in a small sample size, it is difficult to predict whether he has big league pop. He is a top prospect who is skilled at framing pitching and had success in AAA. The catching position is his to lose this season. If d’Arnaud he excels his disappointing 2013 will be forgotten.
.258/.302/.364 with 7 HR and 46 RBI
Lagares is in the lineup for his stellar glove and strong arm, but he may not be a complete liability on offense. He posted a below-adequate .242 batting average and .281 on-base percentage in 121 games last season. Lagares will be less of a burden at the bottom of the order if he can lay off pitches in the dirt and far outside of the strike zone. Although not a slugger, Lagares has opposite field power and is capable of belting more than a few long balls. At 24 years old, he has plenty of time to grow. If he makes significant improvements at the dish he could play in a Mets uniform for many years to come.
.224/.303/.440 with 19 HR and 64 RBI
Young’s peak season average is .257 and his OBP has never surpassed .341. His highest average and OBP over the past three years was .236 and .331 in 2011 and the power has been reliable. He hit 20 home runs or more in all four of his seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks in which he played 148 games or over. However, Chase Field is a friendlier ballpark to hitters than Citi Field. Unless he struggles his way onto the bench or gets hurt he will be a starter and bounce back candidate from his dreadful 2013 season.
.282/.315/.429 with 11 HR and 74 RBI
Murphy has proven that he can drive in runners in scoring position. During a slump he is ice cold, but when Murphy is on fire he hits the ball to all parts of the field and comes through in the clutch. He is a streaky, impatient two-bagger machine with 144 doubles over the past four seasons. Since he is aggressive and expands the strike zone, it would be difficult for Murphy to get more hits and reach base at a higher clip. Taking pitches is not part of his game: his batting average and OBP have been on the decline since 2011. He had career highs in 2013 with 13 homers and 78 RBI. Sustaining this level of production would come at the expense of his average and OBP.
.239/.328/.455 with 24 HR and 82 RBI
Davis is a gamble. The Mets could send him down to the minors before the All-Star break, yet he has the potential to be an All-Star first basemen. He hit .290 with a .468 OBP in August 2013 before suffering an oblique injury on August 31 that ended his season. He only hit nine home runs in 2013, but most of them were majestic and reminiscent of his monster second half in 2012. If Davis can combine everything he has achieved in isolation he will emerge as a top-tier first baseman in the National League.
.241/.342/.472 with 28 HR and 88 RBI
With the exception of 2011, Granderson’s batting average has been declining since 2009. He became pull happy with the New York Yankees and slugged 41 and 43 homers in 2011 and 2012, respectively, but two hit-by-pitch injuries cut his 2013 season to just 61 games. He is not injury prone; Granderson played at least 136 games every season from 2005 to 2012. Granderson will provide much-needed pop in the middle of the order to protect David Wright. The vast Citi Field could reduce his home run total, but the large gaps in Citi Field will suit him well. What would have been a long ball in the Bronx will turn into doubles and triples. If the batters ahead of him set the table he will be cooking up plenty of rib eye steaks, as Keith Hernandez calls them.
.306/.384/.502 with 24 HR and 91 RBI
Wright is the most consistent and productive hitter in the Mets lineup. Aside from 2011, when he had a stress fracture in his lower back, Wright’s season-low batting average is .283 in 2010, when he also hit 29 homers and drove in 116 runs. Dan Szymborski of ESPN’s 2014 ZiPS projections for the Mets uses a computer formula that predicted Wright will hit just .276 with a .358 on-base percentage and .467 slugging with 19 HR and 74 RBI. His career slash line is .301/.382/.506. His 2012 season (.306/.391) is nearly identical to his injury-shortened 2013 season (.307/.390). Wright’s power numbers are not what they used to be, but he has legitimate protection from Granderson in 2014. Even if the homers decrease he has a track record of slugging doubles. At 31 years old he could decline, but a drop as steep as Szymborski’s calculations suggest would be shocking.