Fantasy Baseball Team Previews – New York Mets

Mets Celebration

While losing the World Series was no doubt a disappointing way to finish 2015, New York Mets fans finally have a team to be excited about for the first time in almost a decade. All the key players from last year’s surprising run are back and the squad should once again compete for the National League pennant. The Mets’ biggest off-season move was resigning Yoenis Cespedes, giving them the reliable middle of the order hitter they’ve been missing the past several seasons. The team also re-did their middle infield by adding Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera in a pair of under the radar moves.

New York’s new lineup sure looks like an improvement from last year; it’s amazing what replacing Ruben Tejada and Juan Lagares will do, but this team is by no means an offensive juggernaut. Fortunately, an amazing pitching staff can often negate such deficiencies and that’s exactly what we have with the 2016 Mets. The team’s rotation is one of, if not the best in all of baseball and offers several fantasy studs. Based on my starting pitcher rankings, the Mets currently have 3 top 20 options, as well as an elite closer. So while the hitting is nothing special, these young hurlers should provide fantasy players with plenty of excitement and production.

Key Additions: 2B Neil Walker, SS Asdrubal Cabrera,

Key Losses: IF Daniel Murphy, RP Tyler Clippard

2016 Prediction: 91-71 (1st in NL East)

Projected Lineup (per MLB RosterResource)

RF – Curtis Granderson

3B – David Wright

1B – Lucas Duda

CF – Yoenis Cespedes

2B – Neil Walker

C – Travis d’Arnaud

LF – Michael Conforto

SS – Asdrubal Cabrera

Curtis Granderson – Granderson is no longer the power/speed threat he was earlier in his career, but he’s still a decent late round option at outfield. Much of his value last season came from improved patience at the plate and the volume benefit of hitting leadoff, both of which should continue in 2016. That said his .259 average was the first time he’s hit over .233 in three years and his stolen base success rate also dropped significantly. I’m projecting a .245-.250 average with 22 homers and eight steals.

David Wright – Once an elite option at the position, Wright is now a shell of his former self. He’s still a good enough hitter to contribute in average and potentially runs, but power and speed are no longer a big part of his game. With the team recently announcing that he’s likely to be limited to 130 games, Wright will likely only be relevant in NL only and deeper roto leagues.

Lucas Duda – Duda projects as a corner infield option in most roto leagues. He has 30-homer upside, but isn’t a good enough hitter to contribute much in any of the other categories. Barring a significant spike in RBI, he’s destined to finish in the 15-20 range at first base. Platoon splits with Duda are also a factor as last year aside; he’s struggled mightily against lefties during his career.

Yoenis Cespedes – Yo went on an absolute tear after getting traded last season and was a key reason for the Mets success in the second half. That said fans would be wise to not view that two-month period as a baseline for his performance. 2015 marked only the second time in his career that Cespedes reached 30 home runs and hit over .270. He’s a free swinger with below average plate disciple who hasn’t stolen more than seven bases since his rookie year. Now I don’t want to sound overly pessimistic, especially since I have Cespedes ranked as my number 15 outfielder, but it must be acknowledged that it’s somewhat unreasonable to expect a repeat of last season. I’m projecting a .277 average with 31 home runs 97 RBI and six steals.

How will Cespedes follow up his breakout season?

How will Cespedes follow up his breakout season?

Neil Walker – While he’s certainly nothing special, Walker is about as consistent as they come. He’s virtually a lock to hit around .265 with 15-20 home runs and 70 RBI. Those stats don’t jump off the page, but they’re good enough to make Walker a top 12-15 second baseman almost every season. The Mets may choose to play Flores some against lefties, though I still feel comfortable projecting Walker for 140 games this year.

Travis d’Arnaud – The talent is obvious with d’Arnaud, but he simply can’t find a way to stay healthy. On the bright side, last year’s wrist injury was the result of a HBP and not some chronic issue so there’s certainly a reason to be optimistic about his 2016 prospects. If d’Arnaud can play 130 games he should easily reach 20 home runs and cement himself as a top 10 option at the position.

Can d'Arnaud finally stay healthy in 2016 and become a top 10 catcher?

Can d’Arnaud finally stay healthy in 2016 and become a top 10 catcher?

Michael Conforto – Conforto is one of my favorite sleepers for 2016. He hit nine homers in only 174 at bats last season and added 3 more in the playoffs. 20-25 dingers is a very reasonable expectation and he’s also a player with good plate discipline that should hit around .280. My only real concerns about Conforto are with playing time as despite hitting lefties well in the minors, Terry Collins chose to platoon him last season. Further, concerns about Cespedes’ defense in center could force Juan Lagares into the lineup and move Conforto to the bench.

Asdrubal Cabrera – Cabrera could be a viable middle infield option in deeper roto leagues, but not much more. He’s a liability in batting average and doesn’t run as often as he did in his Cleveland days. That said, he’s hit at least 14 home runs in five straight seasons, which gives him above average power at the position. Overall, treat him as a low-end shortstop with top 15 upside.

Projected Rotation

  1. Jacob deGrom
  2. Matt Harvey
  3. Noah Syndergaard
  4. Steven Matz
  5. Bartolo Colon
Will Matz become New York's latest breakout pitcher?

Will Matz become New York’s latest breakout pitcher?

The top of the Mets rotation is as good as it gets. DeGrom and Harvey are both fantasy aces and Syndergard isn’t far behind. Matz is a couple tiers below his teammates, but he’s a top prospect and could easily be a top 25 pitcher at this time next year if he lives up to expectations in 2016. I currently have him at 35 in my rankings and I’d gladly take him ahead of some safer veteran options. Lastly, while “Big Sexy” is no doubt the most entertaining player in the majors, he’s not a viable fantasy starter.

DL: Zach Wheeler

Wheeler is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and isn’t expected to rejoin the rotation until July. This makes him irrelevant for draft purposes, but he’s a guy worth keeping on your radar since he clearly has the talent to be a top 40 starting pitcher.

Bullpen

  • Closer: Jeurys Familia – If you look at my rankings, I have Familia firmly entrenched as an elite closing option. He’s a terrific reliever overall and should see plenty of opportunities playing for a quality team without a great deal of offensive firepower. Familia also has the benefit of job security, making another 40-save season very likely.
  • Next-up: Addison Reed – Reed is not a threat to usurp the closing role, but he would likely be the first guy to get the chance if anything were to happen to Familia. He’s got over 100 career saves and while he struggled mightily his last two years in Arizona, New York was a different story. In 17 games for the Mets last season he posted a 1.17 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP and over a strikeout per inning so there’s optimism that he’s regained his form.

Prospect Watch

Dilson Herrera (2B) – If you exclude Matz and Conforto, the Mets don’t have any top tier prospects expected to make an impact in 2016. Herrera is likely the only guy worth mentioning as he enjoyed short stints with the major league club in each of the past two seasons and offers an intriguing power/speed combination for a middle infielder. Unfortunately the team already has Flores and Tejada in bench roles so barring multiple injuries, Dilson is unlikely to have much relevance this season.

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