Give it a month…maybe two until we actually begin to feel spring-like weather. As we all know, spring “starts early” for baseball fans across America as their teams begin camp in mid-February. This spring seems to have added a little extra flare for Mets fans as our team is going into the 2017 season significantly healthier than last year.
As a result of the Mets’ health, fans have reasonable hope their team could make another run for just their third World Series title throughout the organization’s history.
A number of players have been on and off the disabled list for the past couple of years. Each trip to the DL by any player results in us fans ripping our hairs out; it’s become a routine. With that in mind, I have three players in which I’m certain all Mets fans will be keeping their eyes on throughout the spring: Zack Wheeler, David Wright, and Travis d’Arnaud.
Perhaps the most obvious of the three, Wheeler has missed the past two seasons as a result of Tommy John surgery. The Mets traded for him in 2011. A deal which ultimately sent Carlos Beltran to the Giants. At the time the deal went through, Wheeler was the 33rd ranked prospect according to MLB.com.
Through his only two seasons of major league play, he has put up decent numbers: a 3.42 ERA in 2013 and a 3.54 ERA in 2014. Still, some believe he may have been the most talented pitching prospect out of the Mets’ current rotation. After missing two years though, it’s expected for him to be a bit rusty at first which is why this spring will be vital to him if he is to have any success this upcoming season.
The captain hasn’t been around the team as much as we all could have hoped for the past couple of seasons: 38 games in 2015 and 37 games in 2016. During his time on the DL, he spent a significant portion of it out on the West Coast rehabbing. As a result, he was only able to join the team for West Coast road trips. His clubhouse presence is an essential part of this organization’s success, and his on-field presence is of even more importance.
With his ailing back, it’s preposterous to expect him to play, say 150 games in 2017. What we can hope for is maybe around 100 or so. I’m sure this spring he will have separate warm up tactics from the rest of the team to help loosen up his back before playing, and if he can get into form and put up some decent numbers as compared to his past couple of seasons, he will play a major role in the Mets’ hunt for a title.
Similar to Wright, d’Arnaud has been on and off the DL the past two seasons. Though his injuries haven’t been as significant, his absence has hurt the team. Health is just the first thing fans could hope for out of d’Arnaud for 2017. Next on the agenda is his hitting and throwing. As a prospect, he was expected to be a reliable hitter once promoted to the big leagues; that hasn’t been the case at all.
So far with the Mets, his slash line has been .245/.311/.393. As for his throwing, his career caught stealing percentage is at 23 percent. Over the course of spring training, Mets fans must look to see if he has and is continuing to work on improving those two important aspects of his game. If he can perform at the level many scouts predicted he could, he would help the Mets in numerous ways considering he already has efficient framing skills.
There are many important players to watch throughout spring training; I just highlighted which I think are the three most important. If these three players can put together solid seasons, the Mets will be in much better shape than they were last year and possibly even 2015.