Heading into the 2016 MLB season, it’s not hard to get excited if you’re a Mets fan. The franchise currently upholds the best starting rotation in baseball. Coupled with a manufactured bullpen, that was enhanced with several savvy moves this off-season in order upgrade their shaky middle relief. In addition, the Mets took the initiative to replace ailing second baseman Daniel Murphy with a more polished product in Neil Walker from Pittsburgh. Adding all of this to the dramatic re-signing of rangy outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and the Mets look to be in prime position to repeat as National League Champions.
Well, after being one year removed from the franchise’s first World Series appearance in 15 years, projecting the future and foreground is not always feasible. But from what’s left over on the roster, it’s clear to expect that another stellar season in New York is ahead. Much of this can be traced back from their stellar trade acquisitions, that was in large part represented by the Murphy-Walker exchange. This has led to much deeper roster, one that most Mets’ fan aren’t accustomed to seeing. With now a healthy Curtis Granderson to compliment Cespedes, along with one extra season of development for Michael Conforto. And all of a sudden, the Mets’ outfield boasts bright defensive capability and offensive power. To go along with depth, the Mets outdid themselves in the infield, as Asdrubal Cabrera will likely become a sizeable upgrade defensively over Wilmer Flores at shortstop.
As with anything in life, rarely will everything materialize exactly as you’d hope for. Which means, that despite the Mets holding out on an immense chance to improve, that opportunity might not rise to fruition given the deep talent pool in the National League. Outside of the NL East bottom-feeders such as Phillies, Marlins and Braves who aren’t developed organizations yet to compete. The only competition for the Mets within the division are the Washington Nationals, who hope to finally live up to their annual lofty expectations.
More importantly, other teams have gotten better. In the case of the Chicago Cubs, who added a wealth of talent back in December when they agreed to terms with starting pitcher John Lackey and outfielder Jason Heyward from St. Louis. The money continued to be spent by the Cubs’ front office as they signed utility infielder Ben Zobrist from Kansas City for four years. Presumptuously, Chicago has met all the needs necessary to qualify as World Series favorites, just as much as the Mets. In other words, thus being defending National League champions, the target will squarely be on the Mets’ back this year and lets face it–good pitching and timely hitting can get you far in this league. Just ask the San Francisco Giants, who have walked over that bridge often, winning three titles in six years.
Even though the competition inside the league has heated up. The key component that’s overshadowed everything is the additional three seasons of Yoenis Cespedes. Not only will he be wearing Met blue this summer, but the Mets avoided a disastrous situation in which he almost signed with N.L. East rival Washington.
When it comes to the regular season, Cespedes’ performances normally soars. Barring any injury, he should pull his weight as the No. 3 hitter in the lineup. When clustered at the top of the batting order, Cespedes hit .287 with a .337 OBP, .604 SLG, and .942 OPS. With this production, he should be a steady mainstay for a Mets offense that drove in 683 runs during the regular season.
Although Cespedes was a key cog within the Mets’ offense, he wasn’t there when New York needed him the most. Despite his great second half of the season. Cespedes’ batting average plummeted to a .222 mark and with that carried an OBP of .232 throughout the postseason. For a comparison sake, what ultimately shaped the Kansas City Royals into a World Series Champion in 2015 was in large part, built behind a dependable starting rotation that was molded to fit their lights out bullpen. The Mets’ starting staff is already one of the best in the majors, and contributing to a “swing and put the ball in play” offense needs to happen if Cespedes and the Mets want to make it back to the Fall Classic anytime soon.
Cespedes’ high value is still represented. Although, his performance in the postseason still hinders major acheivement. Cespedes still adds fear into the lineup, something that the Mets knowingly didn’t obtain in the first half of last year. Because just with him in the there, provides insurance to those ahead or below him in the order. Nevertheless, offering what Cespedes got was totally worth it. Time will tell if the Mets’ decision to spend high will propel them again in October.