As this year’s offseason draws to a close, fans of all teams look around the league. Who is the favorite for the NL? AL? World Series? The serious contenders in NL are pretty clear: Chicago and New York. There are other strong teams; San Francisco, Washington, Pittsburgh, and others, but the Cubs and Mets are most likely in the WS (one or the other). In the AL? Kansas City looks ready to make a World Series reappearance. Houston is strong, as are the Yankees, and even Detroit looks playoff-ready after a down year. All these great teams, all of which have their own personal strengths, but to me, there is one clear champion. The New York Mets.
This is blatantly obvious. The Amazin’s starting rotation has already been the center of articles in Sports Illustrated and ESPN Magazine, and has been compared many-a-time to the great rotation of the Braves of the early ’90s. Matt Harvey. Jacob deGrom. Noah Syndergaard. Steven Matz. Zack Wheeler. It gives me chills just to read those five names one after another. Other teams have strong rotations: San Francisco has Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. Chicago has Jake and Jon Lester. But every rotation in the MLB pales in comparison to the Mets stellar starting staff.
In games 1, 4, and 5 of the World Series, awful bullpen play and egregious errors were the fate of the 2015 Mets. Heading into the offseason, every member of the Mets front office knew the bullpen had to see some major changes. Those changes were seen to, as Bartolo Colon was resigned (he will be a reliever once Wheeler returns), Jerry Blevins was brought back after injury ended his 2015 season, and Antonio Bastardo was signed to put the finishing touches on what looks like a solid bullpen. Although it may not be the best in baseball, it looks like the 2016 Mets bullpen will be a force to be reckoned with, with Josh Edgin returning, as are Addison Reed and Hansel Robles. Not to mention save-happy closer Jeurys Familia will be back. Although the Mets missed out on their top two bullpen targets (Tony Sipp and Darren O’Day), it is clear that the bullpen has taken huge steps forward toward being one of the best. Around the MLB, the Yankees have possibly the best bullpen with Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Betances, but that is not a team the Mets play at all this year (unless it’s the World Series). Most of the strong bullpens are in the AL. KC, Baltimore, and Houston all have excellent bullpens. Pittsburgh has a strong bullpen in the NL, but most of the strong bullpens are on AL teams.
Yeah, we know about the “comeback kids” Royals lineup, and the “World Series Favorite” Chicago Cubs lineup. The Cubs and Royals most likely have the two best lineups in the MLB, but the Mets are easily top five. Curtis Granderson looks ready to have a strong season. Neil Walker may not have the bat that Murphy had, but is still solid, and plays much better defense than Murph did. David Wright could go either way as he you never know what health problems he’s dealing with. Duda is deadly when he goes on a hot streak, but can go cold as ice just as fast. Michael Conforto looks like a stud, as the young outfielder has the makings of an All-Star (in a year or two if not this year). Then, of course, the big one. La Potenćia. Yoenis Cespedes. The man who put the team on his back. The Cuban slugger is poised to demolish the starting pitching of the NL, and lead the Mets to their second consecutive World Series appearance (and maybe win it this year).
As most Met fans strongly believe they will go all the way this season (I certainly believe it too), it is impossible to ignore the other powerhouses of the MLB: Chicago, Kansas City, but the Mets clearly have the pieces in play to hoist up the trophy at the end of the season. And it will be no easy task, but the Mets are legitimate this year, as is the possibility of taking home the glory to Queens.