The time is coming, and the wait is almost over. My favorite day of the year is almost here. Opening Day is just 1 day away.
There is a lot of promise for this year’s New York Mets, they have a lot of depth and probably the best lineup they have had since 2008. The biggest difference between this year and last year is that they were able to leave Spring Training without any major injuries. Another big difference is simply the vibe that this team has.
Last year most Met fans were excited, myself included, and rightfully so. The Mets had depth in the rotation, a good bullpen, and a solid lineup with a bench filled with legitimate major league players.
There were a lot of reasons to be excited last year, but as we know the Mets 2017 season was embarrassing and most Met fans including myself who made bold predictions were way off. Last year at this time I wrote about some things I thought would occur for the Mets in 2017, and well, they were wrong.
This year I will try to be more accurate in my predictions, but only time will tell if I am still drinking the optimistic kool-aid, or if I am just a pure genius.
DeGrom will finish top 3 in the NL Cy Young voting
I think Jacob deGrom is not only the best pitcher on the Mets but the best pitcher in baseball. He has great stuff and the confidence to go after any hitter in the league at any moment. I also feel like he has been overlooked because of the talent that has surrounded him throughout his career in New York.
Jacob was not on anybody’s radar until he debuted in 2014. DeGrom shocked the world in 2014 when he went 9-6 with a 2.69 ERA in 22 starts and won the Rookie of the Year. He then followed that season with a 14-8 record a 2.54 ERA, and finished 7th in the Cy Young race; had the Mets been more potent offensively he could’ve racked up a few more wins and finished better in that Cy Young race.
He had another solid season in 2016 but was shut down due to bone spurs in his elbow that affected his ability to have feeling in his fingers. Even though he couldn’t feel his fingers he still had an impressive 3.03 ERA in 24 starts. Last year he was seemingly the only Mets player that avoided getting bitten by the injury bug and had another great year. He went 15-10 with a 3.54 ERA, which was a career worst, but he pitched a career-high 201 1/3 innings.
As you can see he has been great every year in the big leagues and if you didn’t realize just how good he is it’s probably because he doesn’t have a superhero personality like Thor or the now former Dark Knight, Matt Harvey.
What he does have though is the ability to go out there every night, pitch 7-9 innings, and shut you down when he has his good stuff; and when he doesn’t he can still go 6-7 innings while allowing only 3-4 runs which keeps the Mets in the game. That is something that only the top 10-15 pitchers in the game can do.
I think deGrom will benefit from a stronger lineup that has a lot more depth this season than years past and will absolutely dominate. I am predicting that he will finish with an 18-9 record with a 2.58 ERA and have a legitimate shot at winning the Cy Young that he deserves.
Dom Smith will win the 1st base job for the long haul
This is without a doubt my boldest prediction of the season, but I believe in the young lefty. Dom Smith had a legitimate shot at making this team out of Spring Training but he blew it.
After impressing the baseball world by showing up to camp 25 pounds slimmer than last season nothing went right for him. He showed up late to the first day of games and was benched. The day later he started but strained his quad and did not appear in another Spring Training game, and he is still rehabbing.
Although Smith did not get a shot to run 1st base placeholder, Adrian Gonzalez, out of town he still has time. People may forget the ability that Smith has shown at the plate and in the field in the minors because of his poor showing in the majors last year, but he has talent.
Unless A-Gon rediscovers his 2016 form Dom Smith can still take that 1st base job if he performs in AAA and I believe he will. The Mets are looking to compete in 2018 and they are going to use the best players they can, so if Smith proves his slimmer frame improved his game he will be in the big leagues sooner rather than later.
I think that Dom Smith will get healthy soon and crush it in AAA which will lead to the Mets cutting ties with Gonzalez and bringing up the 22-year-old slugger by mid-May where he will play in 100 games, hit .280 with a .350 OBP, and hit 13 home runs. That will be more than enough to earn himself the starting job for the foreseeable future.
Yoenis Cespedes will have his best year yet
Last year I predicted Yoenis Cespedes would win the MVP award because he wowed me with his offseason workouts and seemed determined to win the award after he got the contract he had been looking for. Unfortunately, those offseason workouts, although impressive, led to him spending half of the year on the DL.
This offseason Cespedes set the same goal of winning NL MVP but worked on being flexible and conditioned, which will help him play 145-155 games this season. While I don’t think he will win MVP, I do think he will have the best year of his career and will stay on the field without any trips to the DL.
When on the field in a Mets uniform Cespedes has been nearly unstoppable. In just 270 games played he has hit .285 with a .350 OBP, 65 home runs, and 172 RBI’s. If you split that into a 135 game season, which is just about what he has averaged in his 6 MLB seasons that would leave him with an amazing line. That line would be .285 BA, .350 OBP, 32 home runs, and 86 RBI’s in 135 games, just imagine what can do with an extra 10-15 games.
Cespedes is “The Guy” for the Mets, even though Michael Conforto established himself last season as a star player. If the Mets are going to be successful they need Cespedes, more so than anybody else to produce offensively. He knows that and he is the type of guy that loves to live up to expectations which is why I am predicting a big year for him.
I think Yoenis Cespedes will play in 147 games, hit .294, have an OBP of .370, hit 36 home runs, and drive in 103 RBI’s. Besides games played and RBI’s those are all career highs for Cespedes and he will use the 15 off days to stay healthy throughout the 2018 season. This monstrous season I am predicting may not win the MVP award Yoenis wants so badly but they will help propel the Mets into the playoffs.
The Mets will win the NL East
Last year, like I said hopes were high for the Mets because they had depth for the rotation and they had a good lineup with a very talented bench. Unfortunately, the Mets depth was tested early and it failed miserably, the solid bullpen just didn’t have enough arms after Familia went down and others struggled, almost nobody in the solid starting lineup could stay on the field and the Mets had no prospects waiting in the wings.
This year the Mets have escaped Spring Training without any legitimate injuries, they have even more depth for the rotation and bullpen, which new manager Mickey Callaway plans to use regularly to ensure that the bullpen has fresh arms regularly.
The Mets lineup is going to be stronger this year with a solid bench and a good amount of guys in AAA that can come up and fill important roles easily.
In the minors, they have Luis Guillomore, Gavin Cecchini, and Philip Evans, who is going to be on the big league roster until Conforto returns early in April, as depth options for the infield. At catcher, they have veteran Jose Lobaton and prospect Tomas Nido. In the outfield, a position of strength in the majors they have veteran Matt den Decker, Zach Borenstein, and possibly recently claimed Bryce Brentz.
The biggest reason why I think the Mets will win the NL East is the vibe of hunger this team is giving off. Last year it seemed like they were expecting to be good out of Spring Training, but this year they seem to want to be good.
I also think that new Manager Mickey Callaway and new pitching coach Dave Eiland are going to be the biggest difference between this year and last year. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Terry Collins and Dan Warthen but this change of pace was needed. Both Callaway and Eiland have been two of the best pitching coaches in the league that have turned careers around and kept pitchers healthy.
The most important thing that they bring to the table is their no B.S attitude, you have to perform or you’re gone. They showed that when they demoted Wheeler and Robles and did not tiptoe around questions asked by the media regarding sensitive topics.
I think the Mets will win 91 games which will be just enough to stave off the Washington Nationals who will struggle to keep it together like they have basically every year in recent history. Health is all this team needs to be really good and the only reason people aren’t thinking highly of the Mets this year is because of the injury bug that has bitten this team the past two years.
This year will be different, the Mets will be good throughout the season for the first time since 2006 and win the division like they did in 2015.