Wednesday, October 7, 2015

2015 Mets: Wilder Than Wild, Part I

2015 is, of course, not over for the Mets, but I still feel I need to hand out my requisite letter grades for the regular season. The Postseason is a totally different animal and when all is said and done there could very well be some under-the-radar guys that end up being among the "Playoff Chosen," and I certainly have several candidates on the Mets who could fill that role.

There was a good deal of promise coming in to the season but of course after a raging hot start, the Mets ended up going flat for the better part of 3 months. But for the first time in what seemed like ages, the Mets actually made some mid-season moves that were designed to help the team now rather than later, and we all know what happened from there. They went on a run on August and carried it through September, riding that wave all the way to a Division Championship and a spot in the NLDS later this week.

The Mets used 49 players this season en route to their first 90-win year since 2006. In 2014, the Mets used 45 players to win 79 games and in 2013, 53 players mustered 74 wins. What this means, I'm not quite sure, but first, we'll examine the 23 position players the Mets used, and tomorrow, we'll visit the 26 pitchers that took the mound.

Travis d'Arnaud - B
I have a hard time grading d'Arnaud higher than a B, if only because he's proven himself to be invaluable to the Mets to the point where his inability to stay on the field consistently is a bit of a problem. When d'Arnaud was in the lineup, the offense was going pretty good, but he was out from mid-April until June, came back for 10 days, got hurt again and then was out until August. And when he was out, those were the swaths of time when the Mets really struggled offensively. Managed to get in 67 games and 239 ABs, which isn't great, but he made them count, hitting .268/.340/.485 with 12 Home Runs and 41 RBI, and if he could stay healthy, he's easily among the better Catchers in the NL. d'Arnaud isn't a superstar offensively, but he does what he does really well, which is that he gets hits to extend innings, really knows how to work a count and can pop a Home Run when it's needed. Defensively, he improved over last year, although that's not saying much. 

Kevin Plawecki - B
I'm giving Plawecki a bit of a friendly B grade here because he was sort of thrust into a position he wasn't quite ready to fill, that of coming up to the Majors, starting immediately and remaining the starter for an extended period of time. His bat wasn't quite as ready as his D, which was outstanding, but after a while he was a bit of a liability at the plate. Ended up in 73 games with 233 ABs, mostly in d'Arnaud's stead, and hit .219/.280/.296 with 3 HR and 21 RBI, so there's the evidence you need. Nonetheless, I give him the opportunity to improve.

Anthony Recker - D+
For the 3rd season in a row led the Mets in biceps. Unfortunately, that's not a useful statistic and in reality, Recker was pretty bad even for a backup. 32 games, hit .125/.239/.213 and the numbers look like that because he somehow managed to get more Walks this season (11) than he had Hits (10).

Johnny Monell - D
One of those guys who got playing time during the month the Mets were forced to start their "C" lineup just about every day. Also a walking Double Play. I know the numbers say he only hit into 5 DPs but it felt like 15 DPs and when you only have 48 ABs, that's a lot. .167/.231/.208. At best, organizational filler.

Lucas Duda - B
Duda didn't exactly build on his breakout season of 2014, but he didn't have a total regression back into terrible Lucas Duda either. In fact, and it seems mostly forgotten now, Duda broke from the gate this season like a house afire, hitting well over .300 through April, but as the injuries happened and the lineup around him thinned out, Duda was left with little to no protection and ended up getting into some bad habits, probably from trying to do too much, and the result was a month-long slump that kind of killed his season. He got hot again in August but then got sidelined by a back injury and that also screwed up his rhythm. Came back and was probably platooned more than he should have been because he's an important part of this lineup, he can probably handle lefties better than anyone will give him credit for, and when he gets in a good groove, he's as good a hitter as anyone on the team. 471 ABs, .244/.352/.486, 27 HR led the team, 73 RBI tied for the team lead.

Daniel Murphy - B-
To his credit, Murphy actually had a really good second half of the season all things considered, and rescued what was shaping up to be a total dud of a season for him. A Spring Training injury was the beginning of his troubles, and culminated in an April where he hit about .120 and was committing multiple mental and physical errors per game, which is a lot even for Murphy. He still had plenty of trademark Daniel Murphy moments over the remainder of the season but also several big-time hits, including the 9th inning Home Run on that Sunday in Atlanta. Walk year for Murphy and I'm not sure what will become of him from here but for a guy who was my #1 flog all season long I have to say I wish him well if he doesn't come back. 499 ABs, ..281/.322/.449, 14 HRs, 73 RBI tied Duda for the team lead. Not my pick to be one of the truly "Playoff Chosen" players on the roster, but I have a feeling some team is going to make a mistake against him at the wrong time and he'll end up with some iconic Mets Moment.

Wilmer Flores - B+
Folk Hero status aside, Flores for the most part justified my faith in him by progressively improving defensively as a Shortstop but also performing well offensively. No, he'll never be as good as some other Shortstops in the NL East, but he certainly acquitted himself well enough. Offensively, some of his defensive issues might have affected his performance at the plate, but he got off to a great start, and much like everyone else on the team slumped in the middle of the season, but after the trade that wasn't, and after he came up with what ended up being the Biggest Hit the Mets had all season, Flores got on a real roll in spite of the fact that he too ended up in a platoon situation. I know he's going to be jockeying for playing time with Tejada but if you want a good under-the-radar pick to become "Playoff Chosen," I think Flores is your guy. 483 ABs, .263/.295/.408, 16 HR, 59 RBI.

David Wright - C-
Much like I was going easy on Plawecki because of circumstance, I have to grade Wright tough because of circumstance. Yes, I know he couldn't have controlled the whole spinal stenosis issue and I give him credit for coming back from it. But if we're going to afford him the same Superstar treatment we've been lavishing on him for years, he needs to go back to having the Superstar seasons he had when he was younger, and I'm not sure he's capable of that anymore. The larger issue, however, is that when he goes down with an injury, and this has happened three seasons in a row now, the Mets simply don't have anyone even moderately adequate to take his place and it leaves a gaping hole in the lineup. 38 games and 152 AB, .289/.379/.434, 5 HRs, 17 RBI.

Ruben Tejada - B
For 3 seasons now everyone's been trying to run Tejada out of town on a rail but he's still here and he's actually managed to become fairly decent from a team depth perspective. Splitting time with Flores at SS, Tejada, clearly the better of the two defensively, performed just fine particularly when you consider expectations for him were basically none. 360 ABs, .261/.338/.350, 3 HRs, 28 RBI.

Eric Campbell - F
There's good depth and there's bad depth. Tejada is good depth. Eric Campbell is bad depth. There was actually a stretch early in the season when Campbell first came up and started filling in for Wright when he was getting some hits and drawing some walks, but eventually the league caught up to him and he was exposed for the Quad-A filler that he unfortunately is. That's all well and good, but again, the Mets ran into a lot of trouble when Wright was hurt because all too often, Campbell was the best option they had. And when Eric Campbell (173 AB, .197/.312/.295, 3 HR, 19 RBI) is your best option, well, you got problems there, chief.

Juan Uribe - A
Not so much because Uribe came in and performed so well, but because Uribe came in and made the Mets team depth (and team morale) about 1000% better simply by walking in the clubhouse. Hurt now and won't play in the NLDS which is kind of annoying because while Uribe has never been great by himself, he's the epitome of the "Playoff Chosen" guy and he's got the rings to prove it. 128 ABs, .219/.301/.430, 6 HR, 20 RBI.

Kelly Johnson - A-
Like Uribe, a Pro's Pro and exactly what the Mets needed from a depth perspective. Not somebody who was going to start every day and blow it up, but someone who was going to come off the bench and put forth a competitive AB. Or spot start once a week and come up with a couple of hits. Or hit a game-tying Home Run off Stephen Strasburg in a game of massive importance. 128 ABs, .250/.304/.414, 5 HR, 13 RBI

Daniel Muno - F
There's good depth, there's bad depth, and there's Danny Muno. Muno seemed to be the guy who would get called up when the Mets just couldn't figure out anything better to do. Accomplished very little at the plate (27 ABs, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .160/.160/.160 .148/.258/.185) and even less in the field where he proved to be a liability most everywhere he was placed.

Dilson Herrera - C
He's the future. Soon. Just not yet.

Curtis Granderson - B+
Nobody probably figured Granderson would spend the entire season hitting out of the leadoff spot at the beginning of the season. That didn't seem to be a role he was cut out for anymore. But that's where Collins put him, and Granderson, being the veteran he is, took it and ran with it and after a mostly unacceptable 2014, had a resurgent 2015 and looked very much like the kind of player we thought we were getting. Started slow but got hit in June and carried that wave most of the rest of the way. 580 AB, .259/.364/.457 and included a team-leading 91 walks and a paltry team-leading 11 steals to go along with 26 HRs and 70 RBI.

Yoenis Cespedes - A
Simply, a revelation. Cespedes arrived in the deadline deal that actually did go through, arrived in New York and basically put the team on his back. Outpaced the season's output of several of his teammates by time he'd been here 6 weeks and singlehandedly dragged the Mets back into multiple games that seemed lost. Whacked tape-measure Home Runs and hot dogged his way around the bases. Chain smoked before games, and maybe during for all I know. Gave no fucks whatsoever. 230 AB, .287/.337/.604, 17 HR, 44 RBI.

Michael Cuddyer - D+
Cuddyer was supposed to bring his .330 bat to New York but it seemed he left it in Colorado. Never really got going early in the season and his poor performance was a real drag on a lineup that needed someone to step up. Got hurt in July and was put in a platoon situation when he returned which actually seemed to help him somewhat, except that wasn't quite what the team had signed up for. .359/.309/.391, 10 HR, 41 RBI but his veteran presence could be of value going forward.

Juan Lagares - C
I'm not sure what we have with Juan Lagares anymore. I'm not even sure Juan Lagares knows what he is anymore. He dropped off badly from last season both offensively and defensively; although he can still run after a ball with the best of them, an elbow injury sapped his ability to throw from the Outfield and teams took advantage of this far too often. Offensively, ran hot and cold multiple times a week, so much so that he fell out of favor in a crowded Outfield situation and turned into a late-inning replacement, which wasn't quite what we thought we'd get at the outset. 441 ABs, .259/.289/.358, 6 HR, 41 RBI.

Michael Conforto - A
I give him an A for coming up to the Majors 13 months after being drafted and never playing above AA ball and hitting like he meant it. Not the main reason the team's offense turned around but he played a big part. The best part about this, of course, is that if he hit .270/.335/.506 with 9 HR and 24 RBI in 147 ABs as a 22 year old, what do you think he's going to do as he matures?

Kirk Nieuwenhuis - C
Nieuwenhuis was the Forrest Gump of the Mets. He hit .100 in April, they traded him to Anaheim, he was even worse in Anaheim, they cut him, the Mets bring him back, somehow he gets called up and then one random Sunday he becomes the first Met to hit 3 Home Runs in a Home Game. Then he turns back into Kirk Nieuwenhuis except for one night in September when he belts a game-winning Home Run off of Papelbon. You can take the .208/.282/.406 and throw it out the window. Those were the only 4 Home Runs he hit all season and you can't say he didn't make them count.

John Mayberry, Jr. - F
I feel a little dirty knowing that the Mets won their division in the same season that John Mayberry, Jr served as the team's cleanup hitter on multiple occasions. .164/.227/.318/DFA.

Darrell Ceciliani - C-
Short, sparkpluggy lefty hitter often confused with Muno but to his credit performed slightly better than Muno. Hit a Home Run once. .206/.270/.279.

Eric Young, Jr. - C
EY2 was brought back, although this time it wasn't necessary for him to play a regular role, which was just as well. Instead, he was brought back to be a late-inning pinch-runner and swipe some bases, but in limited use only stole 3 bases while getting caught stealing twice. Scored 9 runs without getting a hit, which could be the answer to some weird "Stump Gary" question except that what Mets fan would actually remember that?

Pitchers to follow!

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