The 2015 Mets brought a buzz to the team and fan base that hasn’t been seen since the Shea Stadium playoff days.
The second half of the season the Mets were selling out Citi Field and racking up wins on their way to the NL East Division Title and the National League Pennant. The buzz surrounding this year’s team should be much of the same if not higher than last year’s squad. The Mets will have World Series aspirations this year, compared to last year’s team which didn’t realize their potential until after the trade deadline.
The Mets front office, coaches players and fan base have high expectations to win the division again and play baseball into late October and try to get back to the World Series.
This is a team that hasn’t changed too much from last year. They have the same pitching staff in tact and will have Syndergaard and Matz for the whole year and Wheeler set to rejoin the team mid-season. The Mets lost playoff hero Daniel Murphy but replaced him with a solid player in Neil Walker, and Asdrubal Cabrera should be an upgrade over last year’s shortstop platoon of Tejada and Flores. The Mets starting pitching staff is the deepest and most talented in baseball. They have a great bat at the top of the lineup in Curtis Granderson and an all-star hitter in Cespedes.
This team should be contenders from day 1 but there are still X-Factors that will determine if they can win the pennant again and get another chance to bring the Trophy back to Queens
Travis d’Arnaud was making a name for himself as one of the best catchers in baseball last year when he was on the diamond. Unfortunately, the time he was on the diamond was derailed by injuries. The 27-year-old was on the disabled list twice last year and played in only 67 games. He had an impressive 12 home runs, 41 RBI’s and slugged .485 in 2015. Although it was a small sample size it is clear he was progressing towards his potential. If Travis can continue what he started last year on the field and minimize his time off the field then he will be a big boost to this year’s title hopes.
When Lucas Duda is good, he’s great. When Lucas is bad he’s painful to watch. This is why he is one of the 2016 X-Factors. He has the ability to hit 30 home runs every year. The problem is a majority of those home runs could be in a 3-week span spread throughout the season. Few players in baseball have the potential to get as hot as Duda and single-handedly carry their team over a 10 game stretch the way Lucas can. No one can deny that. The problem is the time in between those unbelievable hot streaks. He has the potential to hit 8 home runs in a week but then he has the uncanny ability to go 3 weeks after that without a bomb. Consistency and hitting lefties has been a problem for Lucas. Last year Lucas got off to a great start. He didn’t hit too many home runs the first month of the season but he was hitting over .300 and better yet he hit over .400 against left-handed pitching. Mets nation thought he finally had it figured out but he came crashing down to earth and finished the season hitting .244 but he hit .285 against lefties compared to 2014 when he hit .180. You just never know what Lucas you are going to get. It’s must see T.V. when he is on one of his tears but he can make you pull out your own hair when he’s struggling. He might be the most inconsistent hitter in baseball. He hit under .200 over a 2 month span in June and July then hit over .3oo in August. Lucas will have to avoid his lengthy struggles to boost the Mets offense.
Jeurys Familia was fantastic in 2015. When Mejia was suspended the first time Mets fans thought they didn’t have a closer ad this would be a major weakness. Instead, Familia stepped confidently into the closer role and tied the Mets single season saves record with 43. The closer isn’t the question here, it’s the rest of the bullpen. The Mets bullpen has a few X-Factors that could Lefty specialist Jerry Blevins was hurt virtually all of last season. He appeared in 7 games and have up no runs. He looked like a major pick up for the Mets but he fractured his forearm after a line drive struck him and then he fell off a curb a few months later and fractured the same bone and was out the rest of the season. The Mets hope he is still the lefty specialist he was before coming to the team. Hansel Robles pitched very well down the stretch and was a guy the Mets were confident in going to in big moments. That was a complete 180 to what he was in the beginning of the season when he was wild and inconsistent. Hopefully, the 25-year-old flamethrower can carry last year’s momentum to 2016 and have himself a big season. Dan Warthen said he has penciled in Addison Reed as the set-up guy to Familia. He was brilliant last year for the Mets after they acquired him from the Diamondbacks last August. He appeared in 17 games and surrendered only 2 earned runs to the tune of a 1.17 ERA Reed, 27, has a career ERA of 4.01 but if he can capture the magic he had last year for the Mets and carry it with him into 2016 then the Mets can have one of the best 1-2 punches in baseball.
The Mets biggest of all the X-Factors this year will be health. Injuries are inevitable. Every team will deal with injuries, it’s part of the game but the 2015 Mets were one of the unluckiest teams in recent history in regards to the disabled list. According to Spotrac, the Mets had 16 players on the disabled list for a total of 1,454 days. That was second most in the majors behind the Rays who had 16 players for 1,475 days. The Mets putting together a season like they did in 2015 despite all the injuries was an incredible feat. They shouldn’t have to overcome as much adversity this year to get back to the playoffs.
The Mets should be contenders for the NL pennant all year. The NL is very competitive and has a lot of teams that could be in playoff contention. The Mets, Nationals, Pirates, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants and Diamondbacks all have the potential to make the playoffs and contend for the pennant. These X-Factors for the Mets could determine the Mets distancing themselves from the pack and being favorites to win it all. If Travis and Lucas have good seasons, the Mets bullpen solidifies themselves as one of the better bullpens in baseball, and the team stays relatively healthy the Mets should put themselves in position to run through the NL and get another shot at getting those rings.
If Travis and Lucas have good seasons, the Mets bullpen solidifies themselves as one of the better bullpens in baseball, and the team stays relatively healthy the Mets should put themselves in position to run through the NL and get another shot at getting those rings.