Mets Roundtable #3

Opening Day is finally here! The long 4 month wait is over.  Rosters have been finalized, predictions are being made, and the excitement is at an all time high.  Mets’ fans proved just how excited we are for this upcoming season by watching spring training more than ever.

Which player is the best fit to bat leadoff for the Mets?

John: The Mets do not have a picture perfect leadoff hitter on their roster but they have a few guys that can do the job. The best options the Mets have are Brandon Nimmo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jose Reyes, and Michael Conforto.

In my opinion if he is in the lineup, and he should be until Conforto returns, Brandon Nimmo should be the leadoff hitter. He has a great eye at the plate, gets on base a lot, and has a good amount of speed. When Conforto comes back he is the guy who will leadoff, especially since it is expected that Yoenis Cespedes will bat second this season.

Conforto and Nimmo are the teams best leadoff hitters at this point because of their uncanny ability to not swing at pitches outside of the strike zone and put the ball in play. To start the season Nimmo is the guy at the top of the lineup but once Conforto makes his season debut he will slide right into that slot as leadoff hitter.

Justin: At this point, there shouldn’t be any question as to who should bat leadoff for the Mets come Opening Day. After the spring he has been having, the initial batter in the lineup for the Amazins’ must be none other than Brandon Nimmo. Nimmo has blown away all expectations and looks like the premier leadoff option that the team hoped he would be.

It was expected that Nimmo would compete with the reliable Juan Lagares for playing time in center field until Michael Conforto was to return from the disabled list. Not only has Nimmo solidified his spot in the starting lineup ahead of the struggling Lagares, but if he keeps this up, it will be hard to take away his playing time even when Conforto returns.

While he has cooled down as of late, Nimmo continues to operate as an ideal leadoff hitter, consistently getting on base and being used as a catalyst for the rest of the lineup. He is a patient batter with the situational hitting ability to hit to all areas of the field, perfect for number one hitter in a lineup.

It’s hard to envision anyone else, be it Asdrubal Cabrera or whoever, batting leadoff on Opening Day, and rightfully so. Nimmo has earned the job and it’s time to see just how far he can run with it.

Jake: Until Conforto comes back, there are two options, in my mind, to be the Mets leadoff hitter. Those two options are Jose Reyes and Brandon Nimmo. And based of spring performances, I give the nod to Nimmo right now.

Nimmo has had a great spring training. In 66 plate appearances, he has batted .310 with 11 RBI’s and and OBP of .379. Nimmo has definitely been a pleasant surprise for the Mets this spring training.

I feel like all signs point to Nimmo starting over Juan Lagares once opening day rolls around. Lagares has been struggling this spring. So that makes the appearance of a consistent Brandon Nimmo even that more important.

Nimmo has all the fixins to be a good lead off hitter as well. He is very patient at the plate and can draw a lot of walks. He also hits for contact well and can definitely be a very good table setter at the top of the lineup. He will be great to hit in front of the likes of Cespedes, Bruce, and Frazier.

Dominick: Michael Conforto will be missing part of the beginning of the season trying to rehab his shoulder injury.  That opens the door for two players to prove that they belong in the leadoff spot of the batting order.  Brandon Nimmo and Amed Rosario are the two best options for the Mets to put in that leadoff spot.

Nimmo has proven he can be a leadoff hitter in the past, showing great discipline and being able to get on base consistently.  He has great speed and is intelligent when running the bases.  Having him on base in front of the big hitters could cause problems for the opposition.

Amed Rosario could be the perfect player to hit leadoff for the Mets longterm.  Once he is more comfortable at the plate I believe the Mets should begin to bat him first.  According to Statcast, Rosario is the fastest SS in the MLB at 29.5 ft/s, just edging out Trea Turner.  Last season he did have trouble getting on base but when he was running around the bases it was a sight to see.  Rosario hitting a triple brought me back to the days of young Jose Reyes flying around the bases of Shea Stadium.  I’m excited to see his development throughout the season and hopefully see him in the leadoff spot sooner than later.

Sam: Unless the Mets are facing a left handed pitcher, Brandon Nimmo needs to be the Mets everyday leadoff hitter until Michael Conforto returns from his shoulder injury. Nimmo has proven late last season and in Spring Training this year that he is more than capable of being a major league leadoff hitter who consistently hits line drives, gets on base, and doesn’t strike out a lot.

Nimmo got a chance to play every day late last season and took advantage of his opportunity. With an on base percentage of.379 the leadoff spot is definitely where he should be in the lineup.

His success from last year has had a carryover effect into Spring Training this season as he is batting .283 with three homeruns, 10 RBIs, and a .361 OBP in 17 games this spring, most of them as a leadoff hitter.

With Juan Lagares struggling in Spring Training, Nimmo should be the Mets everyday center fielder until Conforto returns, which is expected to be in early May. So Nimmo should have at least a month to prove that he can be a legitimate leadoff hitter for the Mets, and if he has some success like he has had so far in Spring Training, he could get a fair share of starts, even after Conforto comes back.

Josh: I think the best option to leadoff, and most ideal one, is Brandon Nimmo. He just knows how to get on base. He had an extremely strong .379 OBP, which would have ranked in the top 20 in all of baseball if he could replicate that over a whole season. The team has not had a true leadoff hitter since Jose Reyes’ first stint with the team and it would be great to give Nimmo the opportunity to prove himself atop the lineup. That would allow the Mets to move Michael Conforto to the third spot in the order once he returns from the DL, which is a much more ideal spot for a power hitter like him.

Predictions: MVP, Cy Young, Surprise of the Season
MVP

John: Yoenis Cespedes

Cespedes is one of the most feared hitters in the league, and if there is one guy in the Mets lineup that an opposing team does not want to face in the big moments late in the game it is Yoenis Cespedes. I think that Cespedes figured out what he needs to do in order to stay healthy for 140-150 games and be productive throughout the year. He has been a monster since his debut in New York and this year will be his best season yet.

Jake: Yoenis Cespedes

I understand that this is a pretty mainstream pick. But Cespedes is the best offensive player that the Mets have on their roster, and IF he stays healthy I expect a big season from him. Hot take, if Cespedes can stay healthy, I expect him to be in the race for NL MVP at the end of the year.  I understand that this is a pretty mainstream pick. But Cespedes is the best offensive player that the Mets have on their roster, and IF he stays healthy I expect a big season from him. Hot take, if Cespedes can stay healthy, I expect him to be in the race for NL MVP at the end of the year.

Dominick: Yoenis Cespedes

Cespedes is one of those players that can carry an entire lineup.  In the past two seasons the team went as Cespedes went.  If he was struggling, the Mets were struggling.  This season I expect more of the same, but I expect Cespedes to step up and have his best season yet.  He finally has help around him in the lineup.  There won’t be as much pressure on him to produce every time he steps to the plate.  Cespedes is the Mets most valuable player and he will only further prove that this season.

Sam: Michael Conforto 

There is little doubt that Conforto is the best all-around hitter the Mets have entering the 2018 season as the former 2014 first round pick has developed very nicely in a Mets uniform. I think he will be even better in 2018 because he will have better protection around him in the lineup on most nights compared to last season. Now the Mets are expected to have Cespedes, Conforto, and Bruce as their expected everyday outfield and as long as all three of those big boppers are in the lineup, Conforto should see some good pitches to hit. I am expecting Conforto to build off of his first successful full season in the big leagues and be even better in 2018.

Josh: Yoenis Cespedes

Cespedes appears to be in a mindset to really try to change things up and make a statement as he did when he spoke to the press without a translator for the first time since he was acquired in 2015. He also referenced that team saying they are much better now than they were then. After starting a yoga team and deciding to stop playing golf, I would not be surprised if Cespedes makes the whole 2018 season look like August of 2015.

Justin: Yoenis Cespedes

It can be difficult for a player of Yoenis Cespedes’ caliber to become overlooked but that’s seemingly just what has happened over the past couple seasons. Be it because of injury or simply because of other exterior circumstances, it appears that the league has forgotten just how good Cespedes is. Expect that to change this season. Cespedes looks as motivated as ever before and it wouldn’t be surprising in the least to hear his name mentioned in not only team MVP talks, but league MVP talks as well. If all goes to plan, Cespedes could play at his highest level since the summer and fall of 2015.

Cy Young

John: Jacob deGrom

I said it before and I will say it again, and again, and again until I am proven wrong (don’t count on it) Jacob deGrom is the BEST pitcher on the Mets roster and I believe at times is the best pitcher in all of baseball. There is no doubt in my mind that this year will be the year that deGrom is the Cy Young for the Mets and will finish top 3 in the voting for the NL Cy Young. This year deGrom will likely be pitching with the most potent lineup the Mets have had since his debut in 2014 which may turn those no decisions, that he and other Mets have racked up, into wins this year.

Jake: Noah Syndergaard

This is pretty much a toss up between Thor and DeGrom, but I’m gonna go with Syndergaard. Thor was lethal this spring training, and he even said that he wasn’t pitching at 100% effort yet, that should scare the rest of the league. Syndergaard just has that X-factor, that 100+ mph fastball. When he is on his game, it is really something special to watch. And I think he is going to be on his game a lot this year. So watch out MLB, because Thor is about to drop the hammer.

Dominick: Jacob deGrom

deGrom has been the best pitcher in the Mets organization since the day he made his debut.  He has consistently been at the top of his game and rarely has bad outings.  My favorite thing about deGrom is that when he does have a bad game it doesn’t affect him.  He can look terrible in the first 3 innings but will somehow get himself together and throw 7 innings.The league doesn’t give Jacob enough respect and I think this is the season that everyone starts to notice him.

Sam: Noah Syndergaard

Coming off of an injury plagued 2017 season, I believe that Thor will drop the hammer and prove to everybody once again that he is a Cy Young capable pitcher in the big leagues. He can hit triple digits with ease; many call his curveball “the hook from hell”, and can hit the mid-90s on his slider. I am not concerned one bit about Syndergaard’s health because his injury last season had nothing to do with his arm or pitching. Syndergaard has looked like his dominant self in Spring Training. I expect that to carry over into the regular season, making 32 starts with a record of 17-7 and an ERA of 2.48.

Josh: Noah Syndergaard

So, with Noah Syndergaard just looking absolutely incredible in Spring Training, it’s hard to pick against him right now. He’s looked like he’s been toying with hitters, and coming off a year where he did not have to throw many innings, the righty is destined to make the most of the extra rest.

Justin: Jacob deGrom

In a toss up between the two aces of the Mets rotation, Jacob deGrom narily edges out fellow staff member Noah Syndergaard as the Mets 2018 Cy Young recipient. While not as flashy, both on and off the field, as Syndergaard, deGrom more than makes up for it with his fantastic stuff, impeccable control, and essentially everything you would like from an ace in this league. Syndergaard his coming off an injury, although his Spring Training performances would indicate he’s fully healed. That being said, it’s hard to bet against deGrom under any circumstances, especially with the track record he has. Syndergaard may bring the flash, but deGrom ultimately brings the substance.

Surprise of the Season

John: Phillip Evans

I don’t think there were many Met fans that had this kid on their radar of prospects to watch, even after his somewhat impressive showing in his September call-up last season. Phillip Evans jumped on my radar this Spring as he has made improvements at the plate and realized his best shot at making it was to become the next Ben Zobrist/Marwin Gonzalez super-utility guy. 

The reason why I think this now super-utility guy will be the surprise of the season is simply because of his ability to fill any hole. He can play third, left field, right field, shortstop, and catcher. Evans has a good bat and his ability to fill in anywhere is going to be a huge help to this team. He is likely to be sent down to AAA when Conforto returns early in April, but if there are injuries throughout the season he will be the first guy on call to fill an important bench spot.

Jake: Travis d’arnaud

We all know Travis d’arnaud hasn’t really met all of our expectations since he’s been a Met. But he has looked great this spring, and I really hope that translates into a good season. If Travis can improve his defense behind the plate and hit it the high .200’s, I would be content. If Travis can be a force on the field, it would really help the Mets this season. 

I do believe that Travis is going to have one of, if not his best statistical season this year. I feel like he may throw out more steal attempts this year, because that was something that he has struggled with in the past. I feel like that is very obtainable for him and would help the Mets dearly.  

Dominick: Brandon Nimmo

Spring training is all about taking the opportunity given and running with it.  That is exactly what Brandon Nimmo did this spring.  He has always been a favorite of the Mets organization and fans, but after his spring performance everyone is even more excited.  In 62 at-bats Nimmo was able to maintain a .371avg.  If he can continue to hit over .300 and be aggressive at the plate it will be tough for the Mets to leave him on the bench.  The Conforto injury will allow Nimmo to get playing time with the Mets in the beginning of the season and I know he will take full advantage of it.  Once Conforto is back it will be tough for Nimmo to play everyday but moving Bruce to 1B can open an outfield spot for Brandon.

Sam: Wilmer Flores

Even though Flores is expected to start the season as a utility guy off the bench, I think Flores will get more playing time than most people expect him to get in 2018. With both starters on the right side of the infield well past 30, I could see Flores getting a lot of playing time at both second and first base this season, even against right handed pitching. Flores saw a good amount of starts against right handers in 2017, due to the amount of injuries to the Mets everyday position players and he had some success. Even new Mets manager, Mickey Callaway believes that Flores deserves to play every day.

Flores could see some time at first base as veteran, Adrian Gonzalez has showed some signs of decline these past few seasons and had a disappointing Spring Training. And I could see Flores getting some starts at second base as Asdrubal Cabrera is 32 years old and had a brutal season defensively last year and doesn’t seem like the athlete he once was in his prime.

Josh: Kevin Plawecki

After being close to failed prospect irrelevancy, Plawecki put himself back on the map in 2017 after adjusting his swing while in Triple-A and hitting significantly better, in limited plate appearances. While the season is set to start with him and d’Arnaud in a timeshare, I expect Plawecki to end up finishing with more games behind the plate in the majors this year than the former. Plawecki is a much better defender and is preferred by the majority of the pitching staff as the team’s signal caller.

Justin: Matt Harvey

Is this the year that Matt Harvey finally figures it all out and returns to peak form? Mets fans would certainly hope that it is and if the stars align, it very well could be. Fans shouldn’t expect Harvey to suddenly start throwing 98 mph consistently again, but he may not need to to be successful again. His injury issues and performance struggles have forced him to work more on his off-speed stuff and that has him coming into Spring Training sporting a new-and-improved curveball which has proved very effective so far. Sometimes all it takes is a little adversity to force a pitcher to rely less on their stuff and more on their mechanics, and that’s what we’ve seen from Harvey. Will he ever become the same pitcher he was in 2013? Probably not. But don’t be surprised if Harvey proves his worth to the team with a solid season against the odds.

 

HAPPY OPENING DAY AND LETS GO METS!

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