Chris Soto - MMs Off-Season Series: Identifying the Mets Weaknesses/Areas Needing Improvement

     With the 2014 season over it's now time to focus our attention to the 2015 off-season. With the emergence of our young stars this season and the return of the "Dark Knight of Flushing," this off-season is going to be a critical one for Sandy Alderson and company. Today we will identify the Mets main areas of concern by matching up each offensive position's results with the MLB average.

Catcher- Travis d'Arnaud (108), Anthony Recker (58), Juan Centeno (10), Taylor Teagarden (9)
2014 Stats: .226 AVG, .670 OPS, 20 HR, 74 RBI, 2 SB, 47 BB, 134 K
OPS Rank: T-19th 

     A large part of this position's inability to produce league average results was primarily due to d'Arnaud's atrocious start to the season. After posted OPS scores of  .601 and .524 in April and May, respectively, d'Arnaud was optioned to AAA to clear his head and get his swing back. Upon returning to the MLB, d'Arnaud finally showed why he was once considered the top catching prospect in baseball. From June thru September, he posted OPS scores of .692, .795, .709, and .903. The combined Rest of Season OPS of .795 would have ranked 2nd in the entire MLB only behind Milwaukee's Jonathan Lucroy.

1st Base- Lucas Duda (153), Eric Campbell (85), Josh Satin (25), Ike Davis (15)
2014 Stats: .248 AVG, .799 OPS, 29 HR, 96 RBI, 3 SB, 81 BB, 154 K
OPS Rank: 10th 

     Duda's breakout season was a welcome development this season. It has always been known that Duda possessed mammoth power, but with Ike Davis on the team, the two were forced into sharing playing time which capped Duda's potential. Once the club traded Davis away to the Pirates, Duda began blasting HR's out of Citi Field with ease. He still continues to struggle against left handed pitchers hitting only .180 with a .516 OPS, but, with an off-season of knowing that he's the guy, Duda can now focus solely on improving that skill. If he could even bring that average against lefties closer to the .220 - .230 range, the OPS should follow suit giving him the opportunity to play everyday and maybe even hit 35 HRs this season.

2nd Base- Daniel Murphy (143), Wilmer Flores (78), Dilson Herrera (18)
2014 Stats: .292 AVG, .769 OPS, 15 HR, 73 RBI, 13 SB, 48 BB, 109 K
OPS Rank: 6th 

     As good as Duda was last season, Daniel Murphy was still this team's MVP. He is perhaps the most consistent hitting 2B in the MLB. Over the past 3 seasons his AVG has come in at .291/.286/.289 and his OPS has been .735/.733/.734. Despite the talks of him getting traded this off-season to create some budget space, I think the Mets would be foolish NOT to bring him back. Just line him up in the #2 hole and watch him hit another .290 AVG season with  10 HR and 15 SB.

Shortstop- Ruben Tejada (119), Wilmer Flores (78), Omar Quintanilla (15), Wilfredo Tovar (2)
2014 Stats: .236 AVG, .629 OPS, 8 HR, 57 RBI, 13 SB, 59 BB, 91 K
OPS Rank: 25th 

     Another terrible season at SS for the Mets in 2014. At least it wasn't as bad as 2013's 2nd to last OPS of an atrocious .561. Quite frankly it's surprising to see 5 teams worse than the Mets SS's, including a playoff team (Detroit). Irregardless of the year over year improvement, the Tejada era has run its course and needs to end. Its worth noting that once Flores took over the position full-time in August, he posted OPS numbers of .639 and .791 over the final two months of the season. The combined OPS of .730 would be good enough to rank 5th in major league baseball.

3rd Base- David Wright (134), Eric Campbell (85)
2014 Stats: .263 AVG, .670 OPS, 8 HR, 69 RBI, 9 SB, 45 BB, 141 K
OPS Rank: 22nd 

     Oh David....Can we please get you through a season without getting hurt? This is now his 3rd season in the past 4 where either he played hurt, or sustained a season ending injury. When he's healthy....David is one of the best players in the game and regularly post +6.0, +7.0, and even as high as +8.4 WAR seasons. With 3rd Base being one of the weaker positions in baseball right now, getting Wright back on the "w"right path is more important now than ever. Especially since he's the owner of 20%+ of the budget.

Left Field- Eric Young Jr. (100), Chris Young (88), Eric Campbell (85), Kirk Nieuwenhuis (61), Matt den Dekker (53), Andrew Brown (19)
2014 Stats: .219 AVG, .615 OPS, 6 HR, 46 RBI, 34 SB, 70 BB, 141 K
OPS Rank: 29th 

     We all knew that LF was a black hole in the line-up this year.....but to think that the position was collectively worse than SS this year is downright maddening. As much of a waste of money Chris Young was, he thankfully, and smartly, was only on a 1 yr deal. EYJ is also expected to be a goner along with Andrew Brown, so this position is now ripe for the taking. It is widely expected that Curtis Granderson and his weak arm will be shifted over here to improve his defensive value. Even with his down year, such a move would improve the position to 16th overall with potential upside if Grandy can take advantage of the new field dimensions.

Center Field- Juan Lagares (116), Chris Young (88), Kirk Nieuwenhuis (61), Matt den Dekker (53)
2014 Stats: .270 AVG, .729 OPS, 14 HR, 76 RBI, 18 SB, 38 BB, 139 K
OPS Rank: 11th 

     Well this is a pleasant surprise...For all the talk of how much defensive value Juan Lagares adds....no one seems to acknowledge that he was also in the Top 33% in terms of offensive value too. If Lagares can continue developing his base-stealing abilities and bring a bit more power to the table, he may legitimately turn into a perennial All-Star/+5.0 WAR player. It would help though if he could stay on the field too, as we'll need more than 116 games out of him next season.

Right Field- Curtis Granderson (155), Bobby Abreu (78), Andrew Brown (19)
2014 Stats: .241 AVG, .735 OPS, 19 HR, 78 RBI, 11 SB, 87 BB, 144 K
OPS Rank: 14th 

     For as much shit we threw Granderson way in April and May....he turned out to have an ok season and brought some positives to the table. For 1, he played almost every single day and stabilize a position that has been in flux ever since Carlos Beltran in his final season. He also hit 20 HR (1 was as a DH) and improved his K rate by 7% since his time with the Yankees. Sandy Alderson claims with the new dimensions that Grandy would have hit 7 more HRs. In addition, despite Granderson's good defense (+8 DRS fielding), his lack of a strong arm (-8 DRS arm) offset all of his positive defensive value. A move to LF is the best option for Grandy next season where his bat should continue to play well.

Conclusion- After reviewing the data, it tells us what we already know. RF is quite honestly, the club's only real main area of concern. With normal full season performances from a healthy Wright, d'Arnaud, and Flores, the club has 6 positions capable of producing within the Top 3rd of the MLB rankings and 7 positions capable of being in the top half. Adding a legitimate hitter in RF could put this team over the hump offensively enough to finally support what is widely regarded to be one of the best young rotations, and best young bullpens in baseball next season.


Thomas Brennan said...


So, Chris, if d'Arnaud is a 108, and Campbell is an 85, as two examples, what does that mean?

Anonymous said...

Sorry those are just games played.

Thomas Brennan said...

Shoulda guessed that - thanks

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